About This Chapter
Relativity in Time and Space - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives
E = mc^2 is a familiar enough equation, but do you know what it means? Use the lessons in this chapter to explore the relationship between mass, energy and the speed of light. Instructors help you examine Einstein's equation by first demonstrating why the classical theory of relativity breaks down when working with the high speeds and expansive distances experienced in space. They also show you how Einstein's efforts to account for the constant speed of light would result in the equation we're so familiar with today. Lessons in this chapter can introduce you to:
- General relativity of time and distance
- Special relativity and the speed of light
- Space contraction and time dilation
- The relativity of energy and mass
|Classical Relativity: Distance and Time Relation to the Observer||Learn how this theory explains the relativity of distance and time for different observers.|
|Light and Relativity: Breakdown of Classical Relativity with Light Example||Explore Einstein's theory of relativity as it relates to the constant speed of light.|
|Time Dilation: Description, Explanation & Examples||Assess the effect of high speeds on time when observed from a stationary position.|
|Space Contraction: Shortening Distance for Fast Moving Objects||Discover why an object's length shortens at high speeds when observed from a stationary position.|
|Mass and Energy: Description and Interchangeable Relationship||Study Einstein's theory explaining why energy and mass are interchangeable.|
|General and Special Relativity: Theory and Examples||Explore the effect of gravity on the acceleration and speed of light.|
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. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
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.
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Other chapters within the Basics of Astronomy course
- Celestial Navigation & Timekeeping
- Characteristics of Our Solar System's Planets
- Earth's Spheres and Astronomy
- Galaxies: Properties & Characteristics
- How Scientists Think and Work
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- Life in the Universe
- Light in Astronomy
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- Newton's Laws in Astronomy
- Rotational Motion in Physics
- Small Celestial Bodies & Satellites in Our Solar System
- Star Death and Stellar Remnants
- Star Types and Significance
- The Atmosphere on Earth and Other Planets
- The Birth and Life of Stars
- The Earth, Sky, and Moon
- The History of Astronomy
- The Milky Way Galaxy
- The Moon: Formation & Phases
- The Orbits of Celestial Bodies
- The Solar System: Layout, Formation & Dating
- The Sun's Structure & Components
- The Universe: Key Concepts & Theories