# General special relativity question

I'm reading in my textbook (and have a hw problem on) special relativity dealing with an accelerating particle. I thought special relativity dealt with non accelerating situations only though? Isn't that the distinction between special relativity and general relativity? I'm clearly missing something here lol

D H
Staff Emeritus
Special relativity deals with situations where gravitation isn't present. There's nothing wrong with acceleration due to forces other than gravity.

collinsmark
Homework Helper
Gold Member
I'm reading in my textbook (and have a hw problem on) special relativity dealing with an accelerating particle. I thought special relativity dealt with non accelerating situations only though? Isn't that the distinction between special relativity and general relativity? I'm clearly missing something here lol
The idea that special relativity doesn't deal with acceleration is a popular myth. And that myth is false. Special relativity can handle acceleration and can handle it quite well.

As D H says though, special relativity only applies when gravity is not present. That's because gravity curves space-time. Special relativity only works when there is the possibility of flat* space-time called Minkowski space-time.

*Even in special relativity, space-time can be curved in an accelerating reference frame. For that reason, special relativity typically has the following requirement to stay consistent: at least one reference frame must be an inertial frame (and that frame is typically used to keep track of the [inertial] velocities of things). As long as that is met, other frames can accelerate around all they like.

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