Is relativistic effect of length contraction physically real ?

 P: 58 Is Lorentz contraction a real contraction? For example, if one tries to accelerate a solid body, does its contraction require an extra input of energy to squeeze the atoms of the body closer together? Will this extra energy go into the total mass of the moving body?
 Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 9,530 It's very real, but not in that sense. This should be obvious if you consider that it doesn't matter if it's the object or you who changed velocity.
 Mentor P: 17,533 It is physically real, this can be seen by the fact that particle accelerators require relativistic corrections to the "bunch length" in order to determine the interactions of the particles. Lorentz contraction is strain-free, as can be measured by a strain gauge, so it does not require additional energy. Don't forget that the fields around an atom also length contract.
P: 2,258
Is relativistic effect of length contraction physically real ?

 Quote by kahoomann Is Lorentz contraction a real contraction?
yes and no.

a moving object and a stationary object cant both be shorter than the other. 1 really shrinks. the other only APPEARS to shrink when viewed by the first.

P: 58
 Quote by granpa yes and no. a moving object and a stationary object cant both be shorter than the other. 1 really shrinks. the other only APPEARS to shrink when viewed by the first. http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=236978
The key question is:
if one tries to accelerate a solid body, does its contraction require an extra input of energy to squeeze the atoms of the body closer together?
 Mentor P: 22,313 That question, already answered, is no. An object does not contract in its own frame.
 P: 58 Bernard Schutz, in his book, indicates that Lorentz contraction does require an extra input of energy to squeeze the atoms of the body closer together. Is there any one who agrees with him? see this link http://books.google.com/books?id=jR3...1QKBq60HBbU-yM
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 9,530
 Quote by granpa a moving object and a stationary object cant both be shorter than the other. 1 really shrinks. the other only APPEARS to shrink when viewed by the first.
This is completely false. A describes B the same way B describes A.

 Quote by kahoomann The key question is: if one tries to accelerate a solid body, does its contraction require an extra input of energy to squeeze the atoms of the body closer together?
That question was answered twice before you asked it again, but I'll say it more clearly: If the acceleration is linear, then the answer is definitely no.

If you accelerate a real object by pushing it at one end, you will compress it a bit, but if you don't break it, every microscopic piece of it will restore itself to its original rest length in co-moving inertial frames. This will heat the object a bit, so the work you perform when you push the rear of the object doesn't get converted to forward motion with 100% efficiency. This is an effect that doesn't really have anything to do with relativity, so I assume that this isn't what you had in mind.

A Lorentz contraction is real in the sense that objects really do get shorter or longer when your velocity relative to the object changes (regardless of whether it was you or the object that accelerated). It's not just that that they appear to get shorter or longer. The reason why lengths change is that your velocity is what determines which 3-dimensional "slice" of space-time you will consider space. (There's nothing more important than this in all of SR, so you should try really hard to understand it if you're at all interested). Two observers who measure the length of the same object will disagree because they are measuring the lengths of different paths in space-time.

So why did I say "if the acceleration is linear..."? Because there are situations where it just isn't possible for each microscopic piece to restore itself to its original length in co-moving inertial frames. The simplest example is a rotating disc. When you give a wheel a spin, the material will be forcefully stretched everywhere along the circumference by a factor that exactly compensates for the Lorentz contraction. So in this case we are performing additional work, not to cause the Lorentz contraction but to make sure that lengths remain the same when they do get Lorentz contracted.
 P: 2,258 Originally Posted by granpa View Post a moving object and a stationary object cant both be shorter than the other. 1 really shrinks. the other only APPEARS to shrink when viewed by the first. This is completely false. A describes B the same way B describes A. how does that contradict what i said??
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 9,530
 Quote by kahoomann Bernard Schutz, in his book, indicates that Lorentz contraction does require an extra input of energy to squeeze the atoms of the body closer together see this link http://books.google.com/books?id=jR3...1QKBq60HBbU-yM
I really like Schutz because I think the SR section in his "A first course on general relativity" is awesome, but this is just wrong. One way to see that is to consider the acceleration of a single classical point particle. It's energy will increase by $\gamma mc^2-mc^2$, and it's definitely not because atoms are being squeezed together. See e.g. the recent thread about derivations of E=mc2.
Mentor
P: 17,533
 Quote by granpa a moving object and a stationary object cant both be shorter than the other.
Sure they can, draw a spacetime diagram and see!
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 9,530
 Quote by granpa a moving object and a stationary object cant both be shorter than the other. 1 really shrinks. the other only APPEARS to shrink when viewed by the first. This is completely false. A describes B the same way B describes A. how does that contradict what i said??
I suppose I could have expressed myself more clearly. I think you could have too, because I'm not sure what you were saying there. You appear to be saying that one object shrinks and one doesn't. That's not what happens. If A and B are two identical objects moving at the same velocity and you change the velocity of one of them, the following will be the result regardless of whether it was A or B that accelerated: A is shorter in B's frame. B is shorter in A's frame. Nothing has really changed about either of the objects. They just disagree about which slices of space-time are space.
 P: 2,258 a moving object and a stationary object cant both be shorter than the other. 1 really shrinks. the other only APPEARS to shrink when viewed by the first due to loss of simultaneity. you obviously didnt even look at the link i posted.
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 9,530
 Quote by granpa you obviously didnt even look at the link i posted.
You're right about that. You said something that was clearly incorrect and posted a link to what was obviously another thread without explaining the reason. It didn't seem worth the effort to click it.

 Quote by granpa a moving object and a stationary object cant both be shorter than the other.
Not in one frame, that's true, but if that's what you mean, you should say it.

 Quote by granpa 1 really shrinks. the other only APPEARS to shrink when viewed by the first due to loss of simultaneity.
But the first also "appears to shrink" when viewed by the other, for the same reason. So if "1 really shrinks", then so does the other.
 P: 2,258 But the first also "appears to shrink" when viewed by the other, for the same reason. thats where you are wrong. its not for the same reason, as i clearly showed and proved mathematically in the link i posted. but it is impossible to tell which is real and which isnt.
P: 2,043
 Quote by kahoomann Is Lorentz contraction a real contraction? For example, if one tries to accelerate a solid body, does its contraction require an extra input of energy to squeeze the atoms of the body closer together? Will this extra energy go into the total mass of the moving body?
I think it a good idea to differentiate between the observation of the length of a rod in motion with respect to an observer and the effects of acceleration on a pulled or pushed rod. Those are two different things.
Mentor
P: 17,533
 Quote by granpa but it is impossible to tell which is real and which isnt.
It is easy to tell which is real: they both are.
P: 2,258
 Quote by DaleSpam It is easy to tell which is real: they both are.
you believe that a can be shorter than b while b is at the same time shorter than a? ok. then perhaps you can explain to me where my calculations went wrong in this thread: