Exploring Relativity: Is It Impossible to Determine Motion?

In summary, the concept of relativity states that as long as an object is not accelerating, it can be considered at rest. There is no preferred inertial frame of reference, and there is no way to prove or disprove that the entire universe is moving at a speed. This is because motion and speed are relative to other objects and there is nothing outside of the universe to compare it to. Advanced devices cannot help determine whether an object is at rest or in motion, as there is no objective definition of "stationary" and the universe cannot be in motion relative to itself.
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Gireesh
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I am new to relativity. I noticed that there is a general concept that someone sitting in the inertial frame (a typical one) will not be able to decide whether he/ she is at rest or moving with a constant velocity. Is this true. Are there no advanced devices that can help that person to decide whether he is at rest or in motion.

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  • #2
In short, no.

The whole point of relativity (both the Galilean/Newtonian kind and the Einsteinian kind) is that, as long as you aren't accelerating you can consider yourself to be at rest. There is no sense in which one inertial frame represents "really at rest" and all the others represent moving ones.
 
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Thanks. So that means we don't have any means of proving or disproving that the entire universe (not any planet or galaxy ) is moving at a speed.. I am asking this to clarify my concept ...not necessarily suggesting that the world is moving
 
  • #4
We always measure velocity relative to something. The galaxy is moving with respect to other galaxies, but it's equally correct to say we are stationary and the other galaxies are moving around us.

But what could the entire universe be moving with respect to? There's nothing else, by definition. So the question you've asked is incomplete because you haven't specified what it is the universe might be moving with respect to, and it cannot be completed because there's nothing outside the universe.
 
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Gireesh said:
Thanks. So that means we don't have any means of proving or disproving that the entire universe (not any planet or galaxy ) is moving at a speed.. I am asking this to clarify my concept ...not necessarily suggesting that the world is moving
There is a bit more to it than that. It is not just that "we don't have any means of proving or disproving that the entire universe (not any planet or galaxy ) is moving at a speed" it is that there is no such thing to measure. "Speed" or "motion" only exists "relative" to some other object.
 
  • #6
Gireesh said:
Are there no advanced devices that can help that person to decide whether he is at rest or in motion.
It's not a question of whether you can detect motion with respect to another inertial reference frame. It's a question of whether you should prefer one reference frame over another and call it "stationary". The point is that there is no preference for either one. There are ways to see that you are moving versus other objects, but you can assume that you are moving or that you are stationary and the physics using special relativity theory will work out consistently either way. General relativity carries this idea even beyond inertial reference frames.
 
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If you consider the CMB we are pretty close to comoving with that.
 
  • #8
Gireesh said:
So that means we don't have any means of proving or disproving that the entire universe (not any planet or galaxy ) is moving at a speed..
Correct. There is no objective definition of "stationary" and, as @HallsofIvy pointed out, there isn't any definition of motion of the universe, since the universe includes everything.
 

1. What is the theory of relativity?

The theory of relativity, first proposed by Albert Einstein in the early 20th century, is a fundamental concept in physics that describes the relationship between space and time. It is comprised of two theories: the special theory of relativity and the general theory of relativity.

2. How does the theory of relativity affect our understanding of motion?

The theory of relativity states that the laws of physics are the same for all observers in uniform motion. This means that the perception of motion can vary depending on the observer's frame of reference. It also explains the concept of time dilation, where time appears to pass slower for objects moving at high speeds.

3. Is it impossible to determine motion accurately according to the theory of relativity?

No, the theory of relativity does not make it impossible to determine motion accurately. It simply means that our perception of motion may differ based on our frame of reference. With advanced technology and precise measurements, we can still calculate and predict motion with great accuracy.

4. How does the theory of relativity impact our daily lives?

The theory of relativity has had a significant impact on modern technology, including GPS systems, which rely on precise measurements of time and motion. It also plays a crucial role in understanding the behavior of particles at high speeds and the structure of the universe.

5. Can the theory of relativity be proven?

The theory of relativity has been extensively tested and has been proven to be accurate in numerous experiments and observations. However, as with any scientific theory, it is always open to further testing, refinement, and modification as our understanding of the universe evolves.

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