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Homework Help: Special relativity problem (conceptual)

  1. Apr 16, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A spaceship is travels in a straight line (to the left) past a space station that is at rest. the spaceship is speeding up relative to the space station. inside the ship, there is a block attached to the end of a light spring. the spring is extended by a fixed amount, as indicated by the spring scale mounted at its center.

    picture of block/spring:

    |----scale----[] block

    ship moving in this direction

    An observer is standing at rest on the space station. what is the direction of acceleration of the block in the observer;s reference frame?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution

    At first i thought that maybe the acceleration would be to the left since the spring would appear contracted but then I wasnt sure because it says that the ships velocity is increasing relative to the observer so then I thought maybe it would be to the right?? Im clueless. Any hint would be much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2009 #2


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Special relativity works only in inertial reference frames as far as I know. I think when there is acceleration, you need to apply General Relativity...but maybe this question doesn't require it...
  4. Apr 16, 2009 #3

    what if there is someone on the spaceship. will they see the same thing as the first observer or will it not appear like its accelerating?
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