# Special Relativity vs Lorentz Transformation?

What is the difference between special relativity and the Lorentz transformation? Aren't they basically the same thing?

Also, I was wondering what about matter makes spacetime curve?

PeroK
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dextercioby
Ibix
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The Lorentz transformations have to apply globally for special relativity. If they only apply locally you are in the domain of general relativity.

I'd also say that special relativity is a fairly imprecise term covering a lot of the implications of the Lorentz transforms, not just the transforms themselves.

Dale
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Also, I was wondering what about matter makes spacetime curve?
It is the stress energy tensor of the matter that makes spacetime curve. That includes energy density, momentum density, shear stress, and pressure.

Ibix
PeterDonis
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What is the difference between special relativity and the Lorentz transformation?
Special relativity is a full theoretical framework in physics. The Lorentz transformation is one particular mathematical tool within that framework.

Aren't they basically the same thing?
No. See above.

vanhees71, martinbn and Dale
Good questions. If you think about it.

And they deserve more attention than a few superficial answers.

Lorentz transformations were found by him for the study of light. They show how to distort the time and the longitudinal coordinate when moving relative to the classical wave medium, so that the wave images look exactly the same as in systems that are at rest relative to the wave medium.

The Special Theory looked for such distortions of systems moving relative to the observer's system that light waves both in the observer's system and within the observed system could be perceived as in systems associated with the wave medium.

Why suddenly the Lorentz transformations and distortion of moving systems in the Special Theory has turned out to be completely equivalent? A remarkable question that suggests that the objects of our world may be wave objects on a wave medium.

The answer to the question that the tensor bends our world seemed interesting.

weirdoguy and Motore
Dale
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Why suddenly the Lorentz transformations and distortion of moving systems in the Special Theory has turned out to be completely equivalent? A remarkable question that suggests that the objects of our world may be wave objects on a wave medium.
I think not. Instead what it actually suggests is that there is no wave medium and that a wave medium with the properties of the Lorentz aether is experimentally indistinguishable from the absence of a medium and therefore an entirely superfluous physical concept.

vanhees71 and bhobba
If you can do without the concept of ether in your abstract constructions (although life shows that the rejection of common sense is of little use), and the ether is an unnecessary concept for You, then do not force others to adhere to this dogma.

Here's what the Nobel prize-winning physicist Laughlin writes:

«It is ironic that Einstein's most creative work, the general theory of relativity, should boil down to conceptualizing space as a medium when his original premise [in special relativity] was that no such medium existed [..] The word 'ether' has extremely negative connotations in theoretical physics because of its past association with opposition to relativity. This is unfortunate because, stripped of these connotations, it rather nicely captures the way most physicists actually think about the vacuum.
… Relativity actually says nothing about the existence or nonexistence of matter pervading the universe, only that any such matter must have relativistic symmetry. [..]
The modern concept of the vacuum of space, confirmed every day by experiment, is a relativistic ether. But we do not call it this because it is taboo…»

Elias1960 and weirdoguy
PeterDonis
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If you can do without the concept of ether in your abstract constructions (although life shows that the rejection of common sense is of little use), and the ether is an unnecessary concept for You, then do not force others to adhere to this dogma.
It's not a question of dogma, it's a question of Occam's Razor. Also of forum rules here: we do not discuss Lorentz Ether Theory because we have found that such discussions are never productive.

Here's what the Nobel prize-winning physicist Laughlin writes
Arguments from authority are not valid and have no weight here.

The modern concept of the vacuum of space, confirmed every day by experiment, is a relativistic ether.
The fact that Laughlin chooses that term does not mean either that what he means by "relativistic ether" is the same thing that Lorentz meant, or that what he means by "relativistic ether" has any observable effect within the domain of validity of classical (non-quantum) Special Relativity. It doesn't. "The modern concept of the vacuum of space" comes from quantum field theory. And it is Lorentz invariant and thus has no observable effects within the domain of validity of classical SR.

vanhees71, bhobba and Dale
Dale
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If you can do without the concept of ether in your abstract constructions (although life shows that the rejection of common sense is of little use), and the ether is an unnecessary concept for You, then do not force others to adhere to this dogma.
"Common sense" is just code word for your personal preconceptions. What you mean is that I don't agree with you on a topic that you cannot logically or empirically justify so I am violating "common sense". Well, I have every bit as much right as you do to claim that my opinions are "common sense" and yours are not. So "common sense" is an irrelevant criterion precisely because we do not have a common classification for what it refers to.

Here's what the Nobel prize-winning physicist Laughlin writes:
I wholeheartedly disagree with Laughlin’s comments here, for one very simple and critical reason.

One property that the aether has, in fact the key defining property, is that of a rest frame or a velocity. The modern concept of spacetime does not have that key property, so it does not qualify as an aether by any reasonable interpretation of the term. If you wish to redefine the word "aether" so as to not include a rest frame, then it no longer has any bearing to the historical meaning of the term. Since the historical term is deprecated, there is no reason to alter its meaning.

You didn’t provide a reference, but I would guess that is not a quote from Laughlin’s peer reviewed work.

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vanhees71 and bhobba
PeterDonis
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I would guess that is not a quote from Laughlin’s peer reviewed work.
I think it's a quote from one of his books for the layman. I can't remember which one (I've read two).

Dale
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I think it's a quote from one of his books for the layman. I can't remember which one (I've read two).
I suspect so also. Another good example why the standard on PF is the professional scientific literature and not pop-science works of said scientists.

vanhees71