Lorentz Contraction: What really Contracts?

• Ricke6
In summary, the "Object" contracts in special relativity due to the speed of light. It is possible to reverse the effects of the contraction to allow for light travel without time dilation.
Ricke6
OK I've been reading up on Lorentz contractions in special relativity and i have been wondering about something for a while now. When a Lorentz contraction occurs what actually contracts? the space between the atoms? (because we are 99% space) the actual atoms themselves? or the distance between the strong force?(or possible now the gravitational force due to the Schwarzschild proton)

I would appreciate some incite into this question because to my understanding everyone i ask and everywhere i look it just says the "Object" contracts and it gives me the equation to find the factor of the contraction. It doesn't really tell me what the contraction is only that it happens.

This would really help a lot thanks!

Everything. The whole spatial dimension if you will.

As you approach the speed of light in your spaceship, the universe as observed by you will squash in the direction of your travel. The distance to the target star will shrink and the star itself will flatten into a disc. If you could measure atoms whizzing by, the atoms would be flattened in the direction of your travel.

Everything contacts which is why you can't tell, any ruler or physical process you would use to measure the contraction also contracts - this is a very important point - relativity says you can't tell if you are moving, so you can't use contraction to tell if you are moving - so the contraction must happen in a way to have no measurable effects.

So could it be possible to reverse the effects of the contraction to allow for light travel without time dilation?

Ricke6 said:
So could it be possible to reverse the effects of the contraction to allow for light travel without time dilation?

How does that follow?

I've never liked thinking of it as a contraction but prefer to think of it as a rotation of the body in the space-time plane. Its the four dimensional version of taking a rod and turning it a bit from your perspective...can look shorter.

1. What is Lorentz Contraction?

Lorentz Contraction, also known as length contraction, is a phenomenon in which an object's length appears shorter when it is moving at high speeds relative to an observer. It is a fundamental concept in Einstein's theory of relativity.

2. How does Lorentz Contraction work?

Lorentz Contraction is a result of the time and space being relative to an observer's reference frame. As an object approaches the speed of light, its length in the direction of motion appears shorter to an observer in a different reference frame. This is due to the time dilation effect, where time appears to slow down for objects moving at high speeds.

3. Is Lorentz Contraction real?

Yes, Lorentz Contraction is a real phenomenon that has been proven through extensive experimentation and observation. It is a fundamental concept in the theory of relativity and has been confirmed by many experiments, including the famous Michelson-Morley experiment.

4. Does Lorentz Contraction only apply to objects moving at the speed of light?

No, Lorentz Contraction applies to all objects moving at high speeds relative to an observer. However, the effects become more noticeable as the speed of the object approaches the speed of light. For objects moving at everyday speeds, the effects of Lorentz Contraction are negligible.

5. Are there any practical applications of Lorentz Contraction?

Yes, Lorentz Contraction has practical applications in modern technology. For example, it is taken into account in the design of particle accelerators and GPS systems. It also plays a crucial role in understanding the behavior of particles at high speeds and in the study of astrophysics.

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