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Homework Help: Length Contraction and a Relativistic Angle

  1. May 5, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A ladder 4.92 m long leans against a wall inside a spaceship. From the point of view of a person on the ship, the base of the ladder is 3.13 m from the wall, and the top of the ladder is 4.00 m above the floor. The spaceship moves past the Earth with a speed of 0.919c in a direction parallel to the floor of the ship. Calculate the angle the ladder makes with the floor, as seen by an observer on Earth.

    2. Relevant equations

    inverse tan= height above floor/L0 to find angle

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I don't know what I'm doing wrong here. I use L=L0*sqrt(1-
    v^2/c^2) and find LO (the proper length). Then I use
    inverse tan= height above floor/L0 to get the angle. But it
    isn't right. First off, my L0 is longer than that
    hypotenuse of the triangle, so that's just wrong...
    What am I doing wrong here?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 5, 2009 #2
    L0 is the distance as measured in the spaceship (given)
    L is the distance as observed from earth.
  4. May 8, 2009 #3
    I see. Lo will be the distance from the wall to the base of the ladder.
    Last edited: May 8, 2009
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