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Graded Set III Special Relativity 28 November, 2014

Problem 1 (R6S.7 in Six Ideas)


A Tirillian spaceship fleeing from battle passes space station DS7 at an essentially constant
velocity of = 3/5 in the +x direction as measured in DS7s frame. Let the event of the
ship passing DS7 be the origin event A in both frames. The Tirillians have a cloaking device
that they think makes them invisible to DS7s sensors. However, 40 s after passing DS7 (as
measured by the Tirillian clocks) the spaceship passes through a dust cloud that emits a
pulse of electromagnetic radiation when disturbed; let this be event B. The instant that this
pulse (which travels at the speed of light) is received by DS7, the DS7 crew fires a photon
torpedo (which also travels at the speed of light) toward the fleeing Tirillians; call this event
C. The Tirillians decide 80 s after passing DS7 that they have likely been detected, so they
put up their defensive shields (which involves turning off the cloaking device); call this event
D.
(a) Use a ruler to draw a complete and carefully constructed two-observer spacetime diagram of the situation, drawing the worldlines of DS7 and the Tirillian spaceship and
locating and labeling events A. B, C, and D. In the process, answer the following
questions: [2pt]**
(b) When and where did event B occur in the Home Frame? Use an appropriate Lorentz
transformation equation to check what you read from your diagram. [2pt]
(c) When does event C occur in the Home Frame? Explain how you located this event on
the diagram. [1pt]
(d) When does event C occur in the Tirillian frame? Explain how you can read t0C from
the diagram, and use an appropriate Lorentz transformation equation to verify your
result. [2pt]
(e) Which event, C or D, occurs first in the DS7 frame? Which occurs first in the Tirillian
frame? Explain your reasoning. [1pt]
(f) Is it possible that the Tirillians could have made their decision to raise shields as a
consequence of observing (somehow) that DS7 had fired a torpedo? Why or why not?
[1pt]
** Full points are for calibrating axes and drawing worldlines correctly, and labeling events
(also incorrectly).

Problem 2 (R7S.9 in Six Ideas)


Consider a meterstick at rest in a given inertial frame (make this the Other Frame) oriented
in such a way that it makes an angle 0 with respect to the x0 direction in that frame. In the
Home Frame, the Other Frame is observed to move with a velocity in the +x direction.
(a) Keeping in mind that the distances measured parallel to the line of relative motion
are observed to be Lorentz-contracted in the Home Frame while distances measured
perpendicular to the line of motion are not, show that the angle that this meterstick
will be observed to make with the x direction in the Home Frame is given by [5pt]
!
tan 0
1
p
= tan
1 2
(b) What would the length of the meterstick be as measured in the Home Frame? [2pt]
(c) Assume that the meterstick makes an angle of 30o with the x0 direction in the Other
Frame. How fast would that frame have to be moving with respect to the Home Frame
for the meterstick to be observed in the Home Frame to make an angle of 45o with the
x direction? [2pt]

Problem 3 (R8S.8+9 in Six Ideas)


Imagine that in the Home Frame two particles of equal mass m are observed to move along
the x axis with opposite velocities equal in magnitude v = 0.60. The particles collide and
stick together, becoming one big particle which remains at rest in the Home Frame.
(a) Imagine observing the same situation from the vantage point of an Other Frame that
moves with speed = 0.60 in the +x direction with respect to the Home Frame. Find
the velocities of all the particles as observed in the Other Frame, using the appropriate
Einstein velocity transformation equations. Check your results, using a two-observer
spacetime diagram of the situation. [5pt]
(b) Show that while the momentum of the system is conserved in the Home Frame, it is
not conserved in the Other Frame if momentum is defined as mass times velocity, i.e.
p~ = m~v with p~ = (px , py , pz ) and ~v = (vx , vy , vz ). [4pt]
Note: Conservation of momentum means that each component of the total momentum of the
initial state (the two particles before the collision) is equal to the corresponding component
of the total momentum of the final state.