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Feb25-12, 05:19 AM
P: 3,187
Length contraction near the speed of light

Quote Quote by chrispegg View Post
Yes, but hasn't all of physics changed from the spaceship's perspective? How, for instance, do all the atoms of a contracted star fit within such a short distance without collapsing into a black hole?

Does the astronaut have to teach her child a different kind of physics regarding the size of an electron orbit around a hydrogen atom, etc?
Many laws of physics, such as the one that you hint at, are formulated for systems that are in rest; that allows for the simplest formulation. They should not be applied to moving systems, instead the moving system description must be transformed to that of a rest frame. This is to a lesser extent already the case in classical (Newtonian) mechanics: the orbits of planets in a moving solar system are not ellipses but spirals. And of course, this problem does not occur for the electron orbits of the spaceship's atoms.