Physics Emergency!

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Okay, I made a statement in another forum completely unrelated to physics and I believe it to be wrong even though I made the statement in good faith. (Which is to say, I THOUGHT I knew what I was talking about.)

So please, if you can, bail me out.

Two trains are moving away from each other, both traveling at 51% the speed of light. In one train, viewing the other, would it appear to be traveling at 102% the speed of light?

Okay, that's it! Any help will be greatly appreciated!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
JesseM
Science Advisor
8,496
12
Okay, I made a statement in another forum completely unrelated to physics and I believe it to be wrong even though I made the statement in good faith. (Which is to say, I THOUGHT I knew what I was talking about.)

So please, if you can, bail me out.

Two trains are moving away from each other, both traveling at 51% the speed of light. In one train, viewing the other, would it appear to be traveling at 102% the speed of light?
Nope, you have to use the relativistic velocity addition formula here--in one train's frame, the other train will be moving at (0.51c + 0.51c)/(1 + 0.51^2) = 0.80946c, i.e. 80.946% the speed of light.
 
  • #3
Awesome! And thank you Jesse!
 
  • #4
1,041
4
Whenever you talk about this kind of problem, it helps to always add "as measured ..." When you say a train is moving at 0.51c, state relative to what or measured relative to what. That helps keep things straight.
 

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