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Homework Help: Special Relativity at HighSchool, theories against.

  1. Mar 14, 2007 #1
    Hi all, i am 17 and researching Special Relativity for my coursework. It is due in next friday so i have left it late. I have researched some basics. I was wondering if anybody could help me out with any bright ideas, and tellme anything about the theories against light speed being constant. Id really appreciate help. thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2007 #2


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    I'm not quite sure why you gave this the title you did, you seemed to be asking for resources explaining SR (?).

    There's always http://www.bartleby.com/173/ (Einstein's book on SR& GR, available online).

    It may not be the best way to learn relativity nowadays, but it should give you enough material for your report.

    I rather like Bondi's book, "Relativity and common sense", which is simple and inexpensive, but it may be hard to find before friday. A slightly more advanced textook that covers more material would be Taylor & Wheeler' s "Spacetime physics", but again, you left it too late to do much research.

    I believe wikipedia has a relativity textbook, but I'm not sure about its quality.

    Oh yeah, there is always http://www.onestick.com/relativity/
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2007
  4. Mar 14, 2007 #3
    Well, there are the experiments that show that light slows in a crystal as in water, but there are many ways to explain this. But in general Einstein's talk about the consistency of light is based off math, which has been checked and rechecked. The theory however is only for a vacuum and therefore there are other things to take into account. But seeing as you can't quote me, I would suggest doing a Google search on the speed of light through a crystal median.
  5. Mar 14, 2007 #4


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  6. Mar 14, 2007 #5
    SR is valid EVERYWHERE even on earth and not only in vacuum
  7. Mar 14, 2007 #6
    I know that it is valid everywhere but the math that Einstein used is for a vacuum. that is why the name of the theory contains the words "in a vacuum".
  8. Mar 14, 2007 #7


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    on the speed of light (slightly off-topic)

    there are some suggestions that speed of light (or indeed the value of other fundamental constants) does indeed changes (not in space, but in time) ie. the speed of light in some eons ago may be different from ours, yet that doesn't change the fact that the speed of light is the same for all inertial observers

  9. Mar 14, 2007 #8


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    but, from reading the Dzuba reference you make (along with the references Dzuba makes, Duff et. al.) any of these theories of changing c over time (or any other dimensionful constant) have yet to explain how such a change, in and of itself, can be measured. and if it can't be measured (or perceived), how can such a hypothetical change be meaningful? Dzuba and Duff (and a slew of other physicists) say it cannot be meaningful and i think i understand their argument.
  10. Mar 14, 2007 #9
    Thanks. Sorry about the ambiguity of my title. I havent read much on the sites you gave me yet, but the animation one was actually really good for explaining things clearly. I will read through the material in the next couple days. Thanks for your help, i may contact you again soon! Thanks again, take care.
  11. Mar 14, 2007 #10
    interesting. thankyou i will read it in the next couple of days, and get back to you. thanks for the help.
  12. Mar 14, 2007 #11
    Ok, thanks for your help.
  13. Mar 14, 2007 #12
    thanks for the link. Ive read through some of it, has some good stuff for my report.
  14. Mar 14, 2007 #13
    To everyone who has helped me out already (and anyone else for that matter), how would you go about sturcturing a report of special relativity... theres so much to talk about )although i dont understand anything properly yet)! Sorry to ask trivial questions. Help would again be appreciated. Peace.
  15. Mar 14, 2007 #14
    I'd structure it historically. Newton most elegantly developed the idea of inertial frames of reference (along with the math to work out extraordinary solutions) in his work Principia Mathematica. Originally iirc (not a physics major, so someone step in and correcr me if I err) this was defined as a system at rest or constant velocity, but extended to include parallel and uniformly accelerating systems in corollary 6). All was well for bout 200 years until Einstein wondered about such in the context of near light speeds. The story has it that at 16 (about your age) he was wondering about such, and then after an undistinguished academic career that earned a PhD but no post-doc position on acct of his mentor' unflattering letter of (non)recommendation, set about in earnest as a patent clerk to finish the problem. This was SR, which in itself was an extraordinary work, but likely would have been developed within a decade or two by someone else that extends the notion of reference frame to relativistic velocities. The real mind blowing stuff was of course, GR. That along with Principia, and Darwins Origin of Species, are my pick (and likely most peoples) as the top three scientific achievements of all time.
  16. Mar 17, 2007 #15
    thank you very much. Ill check it out.
  17. Mar 17, 2007 #16
    thanks. yes GR is also crazy, but i think SR is difficult as well! I could probably bring in some general relativity at the end as well couldnt i? I have so much reading to do before friday!
  18. Mar 19, 2007 #17
    hey thanks for that stuff. The whole Principia thing is difficult though. As is Lorentz tranformations. CHeers anyway.
  19. Mar 19, 2007 #18
    cheers for the weblink.
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