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Practical uses of relativity

  1. Mar 3, 2009 #1
    Hi folks, I'm a lay person so my depth of knowledge may not be the best. Apologies in advance if I come across a little uncouth!

    Off the top of my head, I can only think of the various space programs (keeping sattelites spaceborne etc.) and the GPS system as fields of endeavour where relativistic maths/physics has been put to practical use. Can anyone point out any other areas in which relativity has been put to practical use for the benefit of mankind?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2009 #2


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    Not sure if it's put to practical use for the benefits of mankind - but there are a few areas where you have to take it's effects into account if you want something to work.

    Apart from adjusting GPS clocks (relativity isn't really needed to keep satelites spaceborne)
    it is needed to design the magnetic fields in TVs - the electrons are moving fast enough to be relativistic, it's also used in some high powered microwave sources and free electron lasers.
  4. Mar 3, 2009 #3


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    Well the energy-mass relation stems from relativity. I don't know if you'd consider atomic power or nuclear weapons to be benefiting mankind though.
  5. Mar 3, 2009 #4
    Particle accelerators, I believe, need to take in account of relativistic mass increase so that there electromagnetic fields will be able to keep the particles moving along the same path as they gain mass. Not really something practical and necessary, but its a pretty down to earth example, I suppose.
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