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Modern Physics

Semester II, Academic Year 2010/2011

School of Physics, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Tutorial 1

Submit before: Thursday, 13 Jan 2011, 5.00pm.

1. A billiard ball of mass 0.3 kg moves with a speed of 5 m/s and collides elastically with a ball

of mass 0.2 kg moving in the opposite direction with a speed of 3 m/s. Show that because

momentum is conserved in the rest frame, it is also conserved in a frame of reference moving

with a speed of 2 m/s in the direction of the second ball.

Answer:

In an elastic collision energy and momentum are conserved.

pf = m1v1f + m2 v2f

This equation has two unknowns, therefore, apply the conservation of kinetic energy

1 1 1 1

Ei = Ef = m1 v1i2 + m2 v2i

2

= m1 v1f

2

+ m2 v2f

2

and conservation of momentum one finds that

2 2 2 2

v1f = −1.31 m s and v2f = 6.47 m s or v1f = −1.56 m s and v2f = 6.38 m s . The difference

in values is

due to the rounding off errors in the numerical calculations of the mathematical quantities. If

these two values are averaged the values are v1f = −1.4 m s and v2f = 6.6 m s , pf = 0.9 kg ⋅ m s .

Thus, pi = pf .

Make use of the Galilean velocity transformation equations. pi′ = m1v1i′ + m2 v2i′ ; where

′ = v1i − v′ = 5 m s − ( −2 m s ) = 7 m s . Similarly, v2i

v1i ′ = −1 m s and pi′ = 1.9 kg ⋅ m s . To find pf′ use

′ = v1i − v′ and v2f

v1f ′ = v2i − v′ because the prime system is now moving to the left. Using these

results give pf′ = 1.9 kg ⋅ m s .

2. An observer in frame S sees lightning simultaneously strike two points 100 m apart. The first

strike occurs at x1 = y1 = z1 = t1 = 0 and the second at x2 = 100 m, y2 = z2 = t2 = 0. (a) What are

the coordinates of these two events in a frame S′ moving in the standard configuration at

0.70c relative to S? (b) How far apart are the events in S′? (c) Are the events simultaneous in

S′? If not, what is the difference in time between the events, and which event occurs first?

Answer:

(a) Let event 1 have coordinates x1 = y1 = z1 = t1 = 0 and event 2 have coordinates x2 = 100 mm ,

y2 = z2 = t2 = 0 . In S′ , x1′ = γ ( x1 − vt1 ) = 0 , y1′ = y1 = 0 , z1′ = z1 = 0 , and

−1 2

⎡ v2 ⎤

t1′ = γ ⎡t1 − ⎛⎜ 2 ⎞⎟ x1 ⎤ = 0

v −1 2

⎢⎣

, with γ = ⎢1 − 2 ⎥ and so γ = ⎡⎣1 − ( 0.70 )2 ⎤⎦ = 1.40 . In

⎝ c ⎠ ⎦⎥ ⎣ c ⎦

system S′ , x2′ = γ ( x2 − vt2 ) = 140 m , y2′ = z2′ = 0 , and

t2′ = γ ⎡t2 − ⎛⎜ 2

v ⎞ x ⎤ = ( 1.4 )( −0.70 )( 100 m ) = −0.33 μ s .

⎟ 2

⎣⎢ ⎝c ⎠ ⎦⎥ 3.00 × 108 m s

(c) Events are not simultaneous in S′ , event 2 occurs 0.33 μ s earlier than event 1.

3. An atomic clock is placed in a jet airplane. The clock measures a time interval of 3600 s when

the jet moves with a speed of 400 m/s. How much longer or shorter a time interval does an

identical clock held by an observer on the ground measure? (Hint: For v/c << 1, γ ≈ 1 +

v2/2c2.)

Answer:

Δt = γ Δt ′

−1 2 ⎡ ( 4.0 × 10 2 m s ) ⎤

2

⎛ v2 ⎞ ⎛ v2 ⎞

Δt = Δt ′ ⎜ 1 − 2 ⎟ ≅ ⎜1+ 2 ⎟ Δt ′ ≅ ⎢1 + ⎥ ( 3 600 s )

⎝ c ⎠ ⎝ 2c ⎠ ⎢ 2 ( 3.0 × 108 m s )2 ⎥

⎣ ⎦

≅ ( 1 + 8.89 × 10 −13 ) ( 3 600 s ) = ( 3 600 + 3.2 × 10 −9 ) s

Δt − Δt ′ ≅ 3.2 ns . (Moving clocks run slower.)

4. The proper length of one spaceship is three times that of another. The two spaceships are

traveling in the same direction and, while both are passing overhead, an Earth observer

measures the two spaceships to have the same length. If the slower spaceship is moving with a

speed of 0.35c, determine the speed of the faster spaceship.

Answer:

( ) ⎤⎥⎦

2 12

⎡ v

The observed length of an object moving with speed v is L = L′ ⎢1 − with L′ being the

⎣ c

proper length. For the two ships, we know that L2 = L1 , L2′ = 3 L1′ and v1 = 0.35c . Thus L22 = L21 and

⎡ v2 ⎞ 2 ⎤ 2

( 9 L1′2 ) ⎢1 − ⎛⎜⎝ c ⎠ ⎦

2 2 ⎛ v2 ⎞

⎟ ⎥ = L1′ ⎡⎣1 − ( 0.35 ) ⎤⎦ , giving 9 − 9 ⎜ ⎟ = 0.877 5 , or v2 = 0.95c .

⎝ c ⎠

⎣

5. An observer in a rocket moves toward a mirror at speed v relative to the reference frame

labeled by S in Figure 1.0. The mirror is stationary with respect to S. A light pulse emitted by

the rocket travels toward the mirror and is reflected back to the rocket. The front of the rocket

is a distance d from the mirror (as measured by observers in S) at the moment the light pulse

leaves the rocket. What is the total travel time of the pulse as measured by observers in (a) the

S frame and (b) the front of the rocket?

Figure 1.0.

Answer:

mirror

v light pulse

* c

rocket

d

At the time t = 0 , a pulse of light leaves the rocket and travels a distance d to the mirror, which is

d

stationary in the reference frame S. The time taken for the pulse to reach the mirror is t1 =

c

where c is the velocity of the light pulse. During the time t1 , the rocket has travelled a distance

l1 = t1 v or l1 =

dv

c

. At this instant, the rocket’s distance to the mirror is l2 = d − l1 or l2 = d 1 − ( vc ) . As

the light pulse moves towards the rocket, the rocket approaches the pulse.

mirror

v light pulse

c *

rocket

FH

d 1−

v IK

c

(a) During some interval of time Δt , the distance covered by the rocket will be

Δx1 = vΔt and the distance covered by the light pulse will be Δx2 = cΔt . We require

( vc ) .

Δx1 + Δx2 = d 1 −

1− v c ⎞ ⎛ 1− v c⎞

Solving for the time we obtain t = d ⎛⎜ ⎟ = d⎜ ⎟ , and solving for the time of

⎝ v+c ⎠ ⎝ 1+ v c⎠

travel of the light pulse from the initial position of the rocket to the mirror and then

from the mirror to the advanced position of the rocket, the total time of travel of

the light pulse will be:

d ⎛ 1 − v c ⎞ d ⎡ 1 + v c + 1 − v c ⎤ 2d ⎛ 1 ⎞ 2d

ttotal = + d⎜ ⎟= ⎢ ⎥= ⎜ ⎟= .

c ⎝ 1+ v c ⎠ c ⎣ 1+ v c ⎦ c ⎝ 1+ v c ⎠ v + c

(b) From the front of the rocket, the above time ttotal will transform to:

()

2 12

2d ⎛ 1 ⎞⎡ v ⎤ 2d 1 + v 2 c 2

′ =

ttotal ⎜ ⎟ 1+ =

c ⎝ 1+ v c ⎠ ⎢⎣ c ⎥

⎦ v+c

or one can mathematically simplify

()

12

2 12

2d ⎡ 1 − ( v c ) ⎤ ( 1 + v c )( 1 − v c )

2

2d ⎛ 1 ⎞ ⎡ v ⎤ 2d

′

ttotal = ⎜ ⎟ ⎢1 + ⎥ = ⎢ ⎥ =

c ⎝ 1+ v c ⎠⎣ c ⎦ c ⎣⎢ 1 + ( v c )2 ⎦⎥ c ( 1 + v c )( 1 + v c )

2d c−v

=

c c+v

2d

We see that this expression reduces to the Galilean result of t ′ = in the limit as

c

v → 0. ′ = 0 because clocks in moving frames, which

Furthermore, when v → cttotal

travel with the speed of light are found to stop ticking when viewed by observers

in the stationary frame, and time shall be no more.

6. If a particle moves in the xy plane of system S (Figure 2.0) with speed u in a direction that

makes an angle θ with the x axis, show that it makes an angle θ′' in S' given by:

sin θ 1 − v 2 c 2

tan θ ′ = .

(cosθ − v c )

Answer:

The velocity components of the particle in the S frame are ux = u cosθ and u y = u sin θ . We find

the components of the particle in the S′ frame from the velocity transformations. These

transformations are for the S′ frame moving with speed v relative to the S frame. We can find the

transformations from the S frame to the S′ frame by simply changing v to –v and primed to

unprimed variables.

ux =

( u′x + v ) → u′x =

( ux − v ) ; uy =

u′y 1 − v 2 c 2

→ u′y =

u y 1 − v 2 c2

(1 + vu′ c )

x

2

(1 − vu x c2 ) (1 + vu x c2 ) (1 − vu x c2 )

u y 1 − v 2 c2

tan θ ′ =

u′y

=

(1 − vux c2 ) = u y 1 − v 2 c2 = u sin θ 1 − v 2 c2 = sin θ 1 − v 2 c2

u′x ( ux − v ) ( ux − v ) ( u cosθ − v ) ( cosθ − v u )

(1 − vux c ) 2

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