# Lorentz Transforms Rule

1. Dec 5, 2006

### JM

It's my impression that the derivation and use of the Lorentz transform can be explained clearly and completely using ordinary math and physics of the college level. What then is the reason for the emphasis on the mysteries of slow clocks, shrinking rulers, and the twin paradox?

2. Dec 5, 2006

### robphy

While the mathematics is relatively simple, the physical interpretation by way of observations and thought-experiments is highly-nonintuitive [for us]. (Mathematics is probably too abstract for the general audience.)

3. Dec 5, 2006

### JM

Thank you for your response, robphy. Part of ordinary physics is the interpretation of Lorentz transform results as describing the physical behavior of light waves. This interpretation seems to me to be sufficient. Is there some reason to follow a different interpretation? Could you elaborate on what observations and thought-experiments you have in mind?

4. Dec 5, 2006

### bernhard.rothenstein

I think that clock synchronization is the first step each learner should go through. Combined with the concept of space-time coordinates of the same event in two inertial reference frames in relative motion a combination of math and phys leads to the Lorentz-Einstein transformations.
sine ira et studio

5. Dec 5, 2006

### JM

Do you find that you need to follow any interpretation other than the ordinary physics view that the results represent the behavior of the light waves? Can you direct me to your derivation?

6. Dec 5, 2006

### Daverz

The results represent the behavior of all physical objects and fields. Do I misunderstand the question? That the math is simple doesn't mean that the results aren't weird.

7. Dec 5, 2006

### robphy

The behavior of light rays [which have finite speed] under the Lorentz transformation has implications for the non-intuitive notion of time in relativity. [Radar experiments are the probably the best ways to see them.] I think that various effects are emphasized in introductions to relativity in order to challenge the Newtonian common sense of students... which unfortunately [in many standard treatments] just seems to leave most of them confused.

8. Dec 6, 2006

### bernhard.rothenstein

Let

I think that it is not the behaviour of of the light wave but the behaviour of a light signal what is essential. That is why many instructors consider that the radar detection procedure of the space-time coordinates of the same event is a transparent way to derive the LET.
Please have a critical look at

arXiv.org > physics > physics/0602054
abstract

Starting with a thought experiment proposed by Kard, which derives the formula that accounts for the relativistic effect of length contraction, we present a "two line" transparent derivation of the Lorentz-Einstein transformations for the space-time coordinates of the same event. Our derivation make uses of Einstein's clock synchronization procedure.

the best things a physicist can offer to another one are information and constructive criticism

9. Dec 6, 2006

### JM

The Lorentz transforms are derived for the physics of light (electrodynamic) waves. By what reasoning are these equations applicable to solid bodies?

10. Dec 6, 2006

### JM

Examination of the physics of light implicit in (Einsteins) derivation of the LET reveals the mechanisms required to satisfy the Light Speed Postulate. Each term of the LET is related to these mechanisms. The procedure uses the same principles a student of physics already knows. Results calculated by LET for a spherical wave of light reduce to known results for an ordinary wave. I think this approach is less confusing than others.
Can you suggest a reference for the radar experiments?

11. Dec 6, 2006

### JM

Prof. Rothenstein, Thank you for your information. I will look into your derivation.

12. Dec 6, 2006

### bernhard.rothenstein

.
Can you suggest a reference for the radar experiments?[/QUOTE]
Please have a critical look at

arXiv.org > physics > physics/0409121

Physics, abstract
physics/0409121

Three levels of understanding physical relativity: Galileo's relativity, Up-to-date Galileo's relativity and Einstein's relativity: A historical survey

We present a way of teaching Einstein's special relativity. It starts with Galileo's relativity, the learners know from previous lectures. The lecture underlines that we can have three transformation equations for the space-time coordinates of the same event, which lead to absolute clock readings, time intervals and lengths (Galileo's relativity), to absolute clock readings but to relative time intervals and lengths (up-to-date Galileo transformations) and to relative clock readings time intervals and lengths.
a paradox is that in our era there are more Authors then readers

13. Dec 9, 2006

### JM

I note some comments on radar methods. Checking references I didn't find what I wanted. Consider: Basic radar records the time of emission and return of the reflected signal to obtain position of the reflecting body. Pulses in succession determine velocity. If the body has reflective surfaces on its near and far sides a single pulse will produce two reflected pulses arriving at different times. It seems that these two reflections can be used to determine the length of the body. For a stationary body L=(ct3 - ct2)/2, where ct3 and ct2 are the second and first recieved reflected signals. For a body in motion the calculation is complicated, but if I didn't make a mistake, it shows that the length is the same, i.e. the measured length does not depend on the speed of motion. Has anyone done this already?

14. Dec 9, 2006

### bernhard.rothenstein

As far as I know the radar detection procedure for the space-time coordinates of the same event leads to the conclusion that depending on the way in which the mirror moves (incoming or outgoing) time and space coordinates transform via the Bondi factor k. Distances and time intervals behave in the same way. Giving google to look for Bondi you will find the papers related to the subject. If I remember well Rosser in his Introduction to Special Relativity treats the problem.
sine ira et studio

15. Dec 9, 2006

### Daverz

I don't know if this is helpful for JM, but it's possible to derive the Lorentz transformations without the second postulate but only assuming

* Principle of Relativity (first postulate)
* Isotropy of space
* Homogeneity of space and time
* Causality

When you do this, you find there are only two choices for transformations between inertial frames that are consistent with these assumptions

* Galilean transformations
* Lorentz transformations

No discussion of light rays or any other kind of electromagnetic interaction is needed. The Lorentz transformations thus derived will have a parameter with the units of velocity that must be bounded from above for causality to hold (let's call it "c"). You can then use experiment to choose between these transformations and fix the value of the parameter.

This is done in Doughty, Lagrangian Interaction (section 5.5). He refers to two papers from the 1970s in the American Journal of Physics (vol. 43, pages 434-437 and vol. 44, pages 271-277).

Rindler, in his book Essential Relativity in a section titled "Special Relativity without the Second Postulate", refers to a paper from 1910 and another from 1921, so it seems to be one of those bits of knowledge that is periodically forgotten and remembered. (This has also come up on the forum before.)

16. Dec 10, 2006

### bernhard.rothenstein

it is up to jm to decide. have you ever tried to teach SR that way?

17. Dec 10, 2006

### Daverz

I think the derivation is too lacking in concreteness for a first introduction, but
it does point up the fact that the LT does not depend on properties of electromagnetic radiation or interaction of any kind. I also find it fascinating that if you make the assumptions above and crank through the logic and math that the Galilean and Lorentz transformations pop out.

Worth looking up if you have access to a library that carries Am. J. Phys. or the books mentioned above.

18. Dec 10, 2006

### bernhard.rothenstein

that is my opinion as well and I am fond of simple and special relativity with human face. I know the papers and I think that it is hard to teach them without mnemonic helps i.e. without using notices during the lecture a condition I consider making part from the deontology of teaching. Thanks for your answer and help.

19. Dec 10, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

Sure.
OK.
Why don't you show what you did that led you to that conclusion.

20. Dec 10, 2006

### JM

The focus of this discussion is whether moving objects actually contract or whether the calculated shortening is caused by the method of measurement.Einstein said that the moving object 'appeared to contract'. French says that the contraction is not in the body,but in the measurements. I note in one of your papers is a figure that shows both contraction and dilation. Is there general agreement that physical bodies do not change length?
The radar methods that I have seen don't appear to use both projected and reflected rays, but use only the projected ray. The quantity of my interest is the length of the moving body, not coordinates. My proposed radar method uses both rays and a single observer to eliminate the moving observer.
Does this clarify my question posed in my radar comment.

21. Dec 10, 2006

### JM

Daverz: In re your comment #15. I have seen many derivations of the LET, but not the one you mentioned. In trying to find my way through the maze of different analyses and claims, I am trying to find something that can be generally agreed on. Einsteins method has the advantage that it relates to physics and uses methods of the college level. I note that his derivation of the LET does not use advanced math, relativity, or ideas about slow clocks, shrinking objects or twins. His work on the Maxwell equations enforces relativity, but also does not involve slow clocks, etc. If these ideas are correct they could form a basis for examination of other derivations and their relation to physics.

22. Dec 10, 2006

### bernhard.rothenstein

contraction, dilatation or nothing?

from the paper

arXiv.org > physics > physics/0507016
physics/0507016

Length measurement of a moving rod by a single observer without asssumptions concerning its magnitude
Subj-class: Physics Education

We extend the results presented by Weinstein concerning the measurement of the length of a moving rod by a single observer, without making assumptions concerning the distance between the moving rod and the observer who measures its length.
Full-text: PDF only

and from the references therein, you can see that the "photographic" detection of the length of a moving rod can lead to contraction dilatation or to no change in the length. the procedure involves the light rays which start at different times from the different points of the moving rod but arrive at the camera simultaneously. please have a critical look at it

23. Dec 11, 2006

### JM

Prof. Rothenstein; In regard to your response #22: I am now looking at the conclusions of the paper you mentioned, and may I quote "...they are the result of measurement...". Just so I may understand clearly, does your conclusion mean that you conclude that actual physical bodies do not actually change length, but that the calculated changes are only a property of the measurement method?
I am pressing on this point because I think it is very important to understanding Einsteins special relativity. Some comments that I have seen seem to be saying that bodies actually contract.

24. Dec 11, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

The answer to the question, "Do moving objects in SR actually contract?" depends on exactly what you mean by "actually contract."

25. Dec 11, 2006

### bernhard.rothenstein

physicists and taylors have something in common

I personally think that physicists and taylors have in common the fact that they clothe, the first mother Nature the second humans. At the proof of the product they contract there and dilate in other parts. What mother Nature does is that She prevents us from finding out if we are at rest or in a state of uniform motion. Einstein and before him others tought us how to avoid attempts to find out methods for contradicting Galileo. The problem has much in common with the perpetuum mobile and conservation of energy.
In short length contraction and time dilation are the result of the measurement procedure. If I try to measure the length of a moving rod I do not contract or dilate its proper length, measuring the period of a moving clock I do not change its proper period. Probably Heisenberg has something to add. That is my humble oppinion and that is why I am still interested in special relativity. Otherwise...
Thank you for your pleasant way of conversation. That is the best way for learning from each other. You noticed that English is not my first language but I think you can understand the essence of my message.

Last edited: Dec 11, 2006