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Misconceptions about length contraction

  1. Aug 1, 2005 #1
    Could someone please, briefy explain length contraction under general relativity?? Is it possibly for the universe to contract around a space ship so that the distances between stars become only inches.. and thus it becomes possible to reach stars lightyears away in very little time???

    THe quiz "misconceptions on general relativity" on this site seems to support this, but is it true?? :confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2005 #2
    you sure this is a k-12 problem? :tongue2:
  4. Aug 1, 2005 #3


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    If I were you I'd start with special relativity, which also predicts length contraction. I am not a physicist or a moderately intelligent person; and I feel as if I am lightyears away from the outermost circle of Gen. Rel. -- except when I am moving very, very fast. :smile:
  5. Aug 2, 2005 #4


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    Yes, it is true. If you are moving very fast- very close to the speed of light relative to some "stationary" place, youcan get from one star to another quickly.
  6. Aug 2, 2005 #5
    Does that mean that in practical terms, it doesn't make much difference if the object cannot reach the speed of light?
  7. Aug 2, 2005 #6


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    Depends on what you mean by "practical". If an astronaut could fly at 90% the speed of light, he could fly to proxima centauri and back in only a few hours, relative to himself. However, to his wife and kids, the round trip would take more than 10 years!
  8. Aug 2, 2005 #7
    Thanks guys, I just wanted some basic confirmation on this, and not anything too advanced...
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