- #1

Adam Lewis

- 16

- 0

Hi, I brought this up in physics class a while ago but didn't get a very satisfactory response...

A train moving at some ridiculous velocity near that of light is watched by two observers. The first is a circa 1885 villain who twiddles his moustache nefariously from aboard the train (and in its reference frame). The second is a member of the Secret Service, sent to stop the villain. Unfortunately for Great Brittania, she has arrived too late, and can only watch helplessly from Earth's reference frame as the train zips by.

The villain's evil plot is to destroy the train, thus killing himself and destroying vital documents implicating the organization he is a member of in various crimes. He plans to do this by simultaneously detonating two bombs. Each bomb is on a different face of the train, but at opposite ends, as pictured (the exclamation points are bombs, the asterixes train).

_________________ !

--------------------******************----------------------------------------

__________________*______(villain)______*

---------------------******************----------------------------------------

_____________________________________!

_________________________(agent)Now, the effect of detonating a single one of these bombs ought to be to rotate and derail the train. However, given that the bombs are of exactly equal power, it is feasible to imagine that if both were detonated at the same time, the rotations would cancel out and the train would not derail.

Suppose, then, that the villain explodes the bombs at the exact moment when the bombs are horizontally equidistant with respect to the agent. In that case, the villain ought to witness simultaneous explosions, so the train will not derail and he will not die. The agent, however, should see one bomb detonate before the other, resulting in a very derailed train with a very dead villain on top. Is the villain alive or dead?

A train moving at some ridiculous velocity near that of light is watched by two observers. The first is a circa 1885 villain who twiddles his moustache nefariously from aboard the train (and in its reference frame). The second is a member of the Secret Service, sent to stop the villain. Unfortunately for Great Brittania, she has arrived too late, and can only watch helplessly from Earth's reference frame as the train zips by.

The villain's evil plot is to destroy the train, thus killing himself and destroying vital documents implicating the organization he is a member of in various crimes. He plans to do this by simultaneously detonating two bombs. Each bomb is on a different face of the train, but at opposite ends, as pictured (the exclamation points are bombs, the asterixes train).

_________________ !

--------------------******************----------------------------------------

__________________*______(villain)______*

---------------------******************----------------------------------------

_____________________________________!

_________________________(agent)Now, the effect of detonating a single one of these bombs ought to be to rotate and derail the train. However, given that the bombs are of exactly equal power, it is feasible to imagine that if both were detonated at the same time, the rotations would cancel out and the train would not derail.

Suppose, then, that the villain explodes the bombs at the exact moment when the bombs are horizontally equidistant with respect to the agent. In that case, the villain ought to witness simultaneous explosions, so the train will not derail and he will not die. The agent, however, should see one bomb detonate before the other, resulting in a very derailed train with a very dead villain on top. Is the villain alive or dead?

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