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3d simulation of special relativity

  1. Aug 28, 2007 #1
    Hi My name is Pete and this is my first post. I'm a few months away from finishing a degree in mathematics.

    I'm planning to program a simulation of near light speed travel (not for school, just for personal interest). I'm looking to understand this topic better. I went to a seminar on hyperbolic geometry and discovered that at near lightspeed real space stops being quite so euclidean. I found this interesting and now i'm curious how this (and the other effects of high speeds) could be simulated.

    The simulation is in the context of a game so it will have to be able to be in real-time, hence computationally inexpensive; I don't mind approximating things.

    What I am most interested in is what will be observed by the player who is traveling at say 0.9c. I want to understand how will the visual aspects be distorted as one approaches lightspeed. These needn't be perfectly simulated but it would be nice to at least give the player a feeling of what traveling really fast is like.

    things that i believe will happen from the perspective of spacecraft:
    • time distortion
      Distortion of time will be done via the lorentz transformation but repositioning objects via lorentz transforms might be a bit CPU and intensive since the will be a great number of objects.
    • reduced in angle for the field of vision
      I'm working on an angular transformation dependent on speed, i'll let you all know if i come up with anything of substance. I just need to put it into maple and find a symbolic transformation rather than a graphical one.
    • contraction of spacecraft
    • blue shift
    are there other things i should be aware of? Have i gotten anything wrong/backward? Any comments/links etc. would be greatly appreciated, thankyou for your time.

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2007 #2


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    You probably want to read about "Terrell rotation" then. There's a sci.physics.faq on it here.

    Searle is one of many authors who have a website about related topics. See http://www.anu.edu.au/Physics/Searle/, on the Australian National University website.

    I'd say that both of the above are pretty reliable sources (if you get serious, you'll probably want to track down Terrell's original paper).

    Here are some past threads on PF

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=124176 (check out the rolling wheels animation in particular, at http://www.spacetimetravel.org/rad/rad.html - I haven't personally investigated the technical accuracy of the website, but it looks cool)


    You'll probably find more. Google for Terrell (and alternate spellings, sometimes one of the r's or l's goes missing).
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2007
  4. Aug 28, 2007 #3


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  5. Aug 28, 2007 #4
    Wow! i was hoping someone made something like that! i Always wanted to see SR simulated in a 3d interactive Enviroment!

    Good Luck!!
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2007
  6. Aug 28, 2007 #5


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  7. Aug 29, 2007 #6
    Thanks for all the links, and useful information, the response has been overwhelming. I wont have a chance to really have a decent look at all this stuff until the weeekend.

  8. Sep 1, 2007 #7
  9. Sep 1, 2007 #8
    Okay I've checked out the links listed and they're awesome!
    I think I've got all I need for now, thankyou all for your help.

  10. Sep 4, 2007 #9
    Fantastic! Could you make the game available to the general public after you finish it? That would be superb!
  11. Sep 4, 2007 #10
    Call me ambitious but my the plan for my game is to be an open sources MMO bigger than WOW and completely free. Of course there is the burden of server costs and I still haven't worked this one out. I've been thinking of trying to develop some kind of distributed servering so that the players all share the role of server but it would get messy and I haven't gotten beyond the planning stage of this project so it's hard to say how it will end.

    If it gets released it wont be for at least 5 years.

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