About This Chapter
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Other chapters within the Physics 112: Physics II course
- Energy Transfers in Physics
- Heat Transfer & Interaction
- The Basics of Thermodynamics
- Ideal Gas Law & Kinetic Theory
- Light & Electromagnetic Waves
- Mirrors & Lenses in Geometric Optics
- Basics of Electrostatics
- Magnetism Basics
- Series, Parallel & Combined Circuits
- Capacitors, Inductors & Alternating Current
- Modern Quantum Theory
- Basic Nuclear Physics
- Studying for Physics 112