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033

You will see this in lecture Wednesday, but I promised I would post this after running out

of time in recitation today.

Think about a clock at rest (Frame S) ticking every τ seconds. Now suppose you are in a

frame S’ and the clock is moving away from your position at the origin with velocity v.

At t=t’=0, the clock is at the origin. When the moving clock ticks, the sound has to travel

to your ear through the air, at rest with respect to you. We can think of the clock ticks as

events. In the clock rest frame, the first tick occurs a t=0, the second at t=τ and so on, all

at the origin. This is shown in column 2 of the table.

Next, we want to find where the ticks occur in our frame S’. Since this is classical, we

use the Galilean transformation:

t'=t

x ' = x + vt

The third column shows the locations of the tick events in our frame S’. Now that we

know when and where in our frame each tick occurs, we can compute the time for the

sound to travel back to our ear at the origin. The sound travels with velocity vs and the

transit time is shown in the fourth column. Finally, the absolute time we hear each tick is

the emission time from the third column plus the transit time from the fourth column.

The fifth column give the time we hear each tick.

Tick (t,x) (t’x’) Transit time Time heard

1 (0,0) (0,0) 0 0

2 (τ,0) (τ, vτ) vτ/ vs τ+vτ/ vs

3 (2τ,0) (2τ,2 vτ) 2vτ/ vs 2τ+2vτ/ vs

**From the table, it as apparent that we hear a tick every τ(1+v/ vs)= τ’ sec. Now instead of
**

ticks, we could call each tick the peak of a sine wave of frequency ν and then ν=1/τ.

Then, ν’=ν/ (1+v/ vs). So, the frequency from a source moving away is lower than when

the source is at rest.

As was pointed out in recitation, this is a much easier way of working it out than I was

doing. The nice thing is that to go to relativity, just change the Galilean transformation to

the Lorentz transformation and fill in the table. You will get

1 − v / vs

ν′ = ν

1+ v / vs

If v/vs<<1, then

1 − v / vs ν

v′ = ν ν 1 − (v / vs )2 = ν 1 − 2v / vs + v 2 / vs2 ν 1 − 2v / vs ν (1 − v / vs )

1+ v / vs 1+ v / vs

which is just the classical expression. I used three Taylor expansions; see if you can

follow them.

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