Ch 13: General & Special Relativity

About This Chapter

Use these lessons to make sure you understand general and special relativity. These video lessons and self-assessment quizzes make it easy to prepare for a major physics exam or study for class.

General & Special Relativity - Chapter Summary

Relativity is one of the core concepts of physics as we understand it today. These lessons help you distinguish between general and special relativity through definitions and examples of each major concept. You will also learn the major theories relating through relativity over history. These lessons allow you to review the material whenever you like, on your phone, tablet or computer. The Dashboard feature of your account allows you to seamlessly switch between devices without fear of losing your place. When you have finished this chapter, you will better understand:

  • What classical relativity says about time and distance
  • The use of light as an example of classical relativity
  • Why time dilation effects exist
  • How distance itself can shorten when moving at high enough speeds
  • The effect mass and energy has on relativity
  • What the difference is between general and special relativity
  • How Albert Einstein defined relativity in his theory of special relativity

8 Lessons in Chapter 13: General & Special Relativity
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Classical Relativity: Distance and Time Relation to the Observer

1. Classical Relativity: Distance and Time Relation to the Observer

It is not enough to ask how fast something is moving. We must ask how fast something is moving relative to something else. This lesson describes how classical relativity is used to explain how speed is relative to the state of motion of the object and the observer. Examples are used to help understand classical relativity.

Light and Relativity: Breakdown of Classical Relativity with Light Example

2. Light and Relativity: Breakdown of Classical Relativity with Light Example

The speed of light is constant regardless of the source of the light or the position of the observer. However, the components of speed - distance and time - are relative to speed. This lesson uses examples to explain how the relativity of distance and time accounts for the constant speed of light.

Time Dilation: Description, Explanation & Examples

3. Time Dilation: Description, Explanation & Examples

Time slows down for objects in motion. While this effect is not noticeable in everyday experience, it becomes apparent at speeds approaching the speed of light. This lesson defines this phenomenon as time dilation. Examples are used to help explain how time is relative to speed.

Space Contraction: Shortening Distance for Fast Moving Objects

4. Space Contraction: Shortening Distance for Fast Moving Objects

The length of a moving object decreases in the same direction it travels. This phenomenon is referred to as space or length contraction. Scientists have proven that space contraction occurs and becomes more prominent at speeds close to the speed of light. This lesson uses examples to explain space contraction and describes how space contraction accounts, in part, for the constant speed of light.

Theory of Special Relativity: Definition & Equation

5. Theory of Special Relativity: Definition & Equation

This lesson will go through the main postulates of the special theory of relativity and look at a few of the consequences. The principle equations will also be introduced. A short quiz will follow.

Mass and Energy: Description and Interchangeable Relationship

6. Mass and Energy: Description and Interchangeable Relationship

Einstein used E = mc^2 to prove that mass and energy are relative to each other. This lesson describes how energy can be converted into mass and mass into energy. Experimental results from particle accelerators are used to demonstrate the relative nature of mass and energy.

General and Special Relativity: Theory and Examples

7. General and Special Relativity: Theory and Examples

Special relativity accounts for the constant speed of light in the absence of surrounding mass. General relativity utilizes the concept of space-time to explain the effect of gravity on the speed of light. This lesson compares special and general relativity and provides examples of how the speed of light is affected by gravity.

Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity: Analysis & Practice Problems

8. Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity: Analysis & Practice Problems

After completing this lesson, you should be able to explain what Einstein's special theory of relativity is and use equations from the theory to solve problems. A short quiz will follow.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
Not Taken
Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
Not Taken

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