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relativity

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THIS IS A PRACTICE ASSESSMENT. Show formulas, substitutions, answers, and units!

Option A.1 – The beginnings of relativity (Core)

1. What is a frame of reference?

instant S’ (the moving van) is

coincident with S you start your

stopwatch. The cone is exactly 225

m from you. If the van is traveling at

45.5 m s-1 find the distance the van is from the cone at t = 0.00 s and t = 2.75 s.

8. Use the Galilean transformations and the picture in 2. above to answer the following question.

Suppose the cone is traveling at 20 ms-1 to the right (it is on wheels!) and the van is traveling at 30

ms-1 to the right (both relative to you). Find v, u, and u’.

9. Two trains traveling at a speed of 0.5c approach each other on the same track. At the same instant,

both trains turn on their headlights. How fast do the two beams of light approach one another?

11. What does it mean to say that the laws of physics are invariant across two frames of reference?

12. Do you think acceleration (and thus force) is invariant across two inertial reference frames? Explain.

13. Do you think acceleration (and thus force) is invariant across an inertial and a non-inertial reference

frame? Explain.

14. Explain how Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory “upset” the philosophical thinking of physicists in the

late 19th century. Give an example of how the magnetic force laws are different in different inertial

reference frames.

15. Explain how the null results of the Michelson-Morley experiment (MME) contradicted two wave

behaviors physicists thought all waves had.

16. Explain what the luminiferous ether was and how the MME demonstrated that it was not necessary.

17. Explain how the MME led to the Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction theory.

18. According to the Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction, what would be the length of a rocket ship which

was traveling at 0.75c in the direction of its length, if its rest length were 85 m?

19. What are Einstein’s two postulates of special relativity? Which one was probably based on the

results of Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory?

20. Two trains traveling at a speed of 0.5c approach each other on the same track. At the same instant,

both trains turn on their headlights. How fast do the two beams of light approach one another? Use

Einstein’s postulates, not the Galilean transformations.

22. Derive the time dilation formula using the concept of the light clock. Include a precise sketch (or

sketches).

23. During the time dilation derivation, you have to make a choice. The choice is that either time is

absolute, or the speed of light is absolute. What do each of these mean? Which one did you choose?

Why did you choose it?

25. Suppose S0 has relative speed of v = 0.866c with respect to S. (a) Find the value of g. (b) If Dobson

measures the time to cook a 1.5-minute egg in S 0, how long does Nosbod measure the same event in

S? Who, therefore, is ageing more quickly?

26. In a laboratory in which it is at rest a particular particle has a lifetime of 10 -8 seconds. If it is now

traveling at 0.998c through the same laboratory reference frame, how long will it last as observed by

someone in the laboratory?

27. A scientist constructs two boxes with lights on top that flash 5.0 times each minute. One box is left in

the laboratory and the other is stuck to the side of a manned rocket that is sent into space. Some

years later the rocket returns, flying past the laboratory at 0.90 c.

(a) According to the scientist

(i) What is the time between the flashes of his own box in the laboratory?

(ii) What is the time between the flashes of the box on the rocket?

(b) According to the astronaut

(i) What is the time between the flashes of his own box on the rocket?

(ii) What is the time between the flashes of the box in the laboratory?

(c) Why don’t they agree?

28. Sketch a graph showing v/c on the horizontal axis, and the Lorentz factor g on the vertical axis. Be

sure to include crucial values and asymptotes on your sketch.

31. Suppose the Lorentz factor for a spaceship observed from Earth is g = 4.75.

What is the speed of the ship relative to the earth observer?

32. Explain the Twin Paradox of Special Relativity, and how it is resolved in General Relativity.

35. Show that Einstein’s prediction of length contraction L = L0 / g is equivalent to the Lorentz-FitzGerald

contraction. Why is Einstein’s derivation preferable to that of Lorentz and FitzGerald, even though

the formulas are identical?

36. Dobson is in the spaceship of 31. The spaceship’s length, as measured by Dobson (who is on board

the ship), is 125 m. What is the length of the spaceship in the Earth reference frame of Nosbod?

What is the length of Dobson’s meter stick in the Earth reference frame? What is the length of the

meter stick in Dobson’s reference frame? Who measured proper length?

A muon - is created during a collision of a cosmic ray with a molecule 3.125 km above a detector in a

laboratory in the upper atmosphere. Muons decay in 2.197 s according to the reaction - + e- + e.

37. Draw a Feynman diagram of this reaction.

38. If this muon is traveling toward the ground at 0.9725c relative to the laboratory, what is its lifetime in

the laboratories frame of reference? How far can the muon thus travel before decay?

39. In the muon’s frame of reference: how fast is the laboratory approaching it? How far can the muon

travel before decay? What is the distance the lab is from the muon?

40. John is in the center of a train car that is moving to the north. Barbara is standing on the side of the

tracks watching John’s car roll by. At the precise instant John is opposite Barbara lightning strikes at

both the north and south ends of the car. Barbara sees the bolts strike simultaneously. Explain why

John does not. Which bolt does he see first? Is it possible for two events to be simultaneous in one

reference frame and not another?

Clocks in two IRFs S and S’ are synchronized so that x = x’ = 0.00 m at t = t’ = 0.00 s. Frame S’ has a speed

of v = 0.75c relative to S. Two events occur in frame S:

Event 1: x1 = 10.0 m, t1 = 0.35 s. Event 2: x2 = 40.0 m, t2 = 0.55 s.

42. Find the distance between the events in IRF S.

45. Find the time interval between the events in IRF S’.

46. Using the Lorentz transformation equations, show that if two events are simultaneous for one

observer but happen at different points in space, then the events are not simultaneous for an

observer in a different reference frame.

launched from S’ with a speed of 0.750c relative to S’. Find

the speed of the satellite relative to S.

launched from S’ with a speed of c relative to S’. Find the

speed of the photon relative to S.

launched from S’ with a speed of 0.50c relative to S. Find the

speed of the satellite relative to S’.

IRF S’ has a speed of v = 0.750c relative to IRF S. An event occurs in frame S having spacetime

coordinates x = 10.0 m, t = 0.300 s.

50. Find the values of x’ and t’.

51. Show that the spacetime interval is invariant for this scenario.

52. An observer from Earth sees a meteorite traveling at 0.50c on a head-on collision with a spaceship

traveling at 0.60c. What is the velocity of the meteorite as measured by the spaceship?

53. Compare and contrast a space, and a spacetime diagram for a planet in orbit about a star. Include

sketches.

54. Why did Minkowski believe that spacetime diagrams were necessary?

56. Compare and contrast Newtonian spacetime distance S with Minkowski spacetime distance s. Which

one is Euclidean? Which one is correct?

57. Sketch a spacetime diagram showing a stationary object at x = 2 units. Sketch in a light line. Now add

the worldline of an object traveling at half the speed of light in the positive x-direction and having a

starting position of x = 2 units.

58. Find the spacetime distance between each set of points.

A

59. Which pair of points is spacelike separated? Null separated, timelike B

separated?

61. Could a particle travel from A to C? Explain. Could a particle travel from C to A? Explain.

62. Could a particle travel from C to B? Explain. Could a particle travel from B to A? Explain.

63. Sketch in a spacetime diagram showing S, which is stationary, and S’, which is traveling to the right at

c / 4. Assume at ct = ct’ = 0 units that x = x’ = 0 units. Give two reasons that the x’ axis is drawn at the

same angle above the x axis as the ct’ axis is drawn to the right of the ct axis. If spacetime were

Euclidean, how would the x’ axis be drawn? Do the Lorentz transformations work in Euclidean

spacetime?

64. Find the relative velocity in terms of c between S and S’. Which IRF is

stationary? Which is moving? Which way is it moving?

65. Draw a similar diagram for the same scenario, only from S’s perspective.

66. Which flash occurs first? How do you know?

Observer 1 is stationary. Observer 2 is traveling at c/4 to the A

right. Which observer sees the flashes simultaneously? B

68. In what order will the other observer see the flashes? Make a good estimate from the graph how

many times units this observer will measure between flashes.

69. Make a spacetime diagram illustrating the Twin Paradox. Show that the twin that has two IRFs travels

a shorter spacetime distance than the twin on Earth. (This shows that the paradox is resolved by the

asymmetry of the two twins’ worldlines.)

70. Write the Lorentz transformations in two forms: First form, the speed of light is c. Second form, the

speed of light is 1. What is the maximum value for v?

71. Write the spacetime distance formula in two forms: First form, the speed of light is c. Second form,

the speed of light is 1. What is the maximum value for v?

72. Write the formula for in two forms: First form, the speed of light is c. Second form, the speed of

light is 1. What is the maximum value for v?

The following questions are about a nuclear power plant.

73. State the formula representing the equivalence of mass and energy.

74. Define rest mass. Write the formula for relativistic mass. Why can the units MeVc -2 be used for mass,

as well as kilograms?

75. A nuclear power plant converts 75 kg of matter into energy each year. How many joules is this? How

many watts? Explain why this wattage is not the actual wattage of the electricity produced by the

power plant.

76. A proton is accelerated until its mass has increased to that of a 12C atom. What is its speed?

77. Distinguish between the energy of a body at rest and its total energy when it is moving. What single

form of energy does a body at rest have (ignore potential energy). What two forms of energy does a

body in motion have?

78. Explain why no object can ever attain the speed of light in a vacuum.

79. Consider the kinetic energy EK of a particle having a charge e and mass m accelerated through a

potential difference V. Explain why the formula EK = eV works under relativistic conditions, but the

formula (1/2)mv2 = eV does not.

80. Find the kinetic energy of the proton.

83. Find the momentum of the proton.

84. Calculate the total energy of an electron moving with a velocity of 0.90 c.

85. What p.d. would be required to give an electron a total energy of 2.5 MeV?

87. What is the momentum of a photon having a wavelength of 950 nm?

The following questions are about pion decay and the reaction p0 e- + e+ + g . The pion has a mass of

264me and the electron and positron each have a kinetic energy of 18.0 MeV.

89. What is the energy of the photon, in MeV?

The following questions are about the equivalence principle.

92. Explain the difference between the terms gravitational mass and inertial mass.

93. Explain in terms of the concepts gravitational and inertial mass why all masses fall at the same

acceleration in a gravitational field.

The following questions are about the bending of light beams by gravity.

95. Deduce that the principle of equivalence predicts that light beams bend near a massive body.

96. Outline Eddington’s experiment for the bending of electromagnetic waves by a massive object.

Include a simple sketch. Why is this experiment also illustrative of political and ethical influences in

science?

97. Describe gravitational lensing. Include a simple sketch. What is another name for

the phenomenon?

98. Describe the concept of spacetime. Include a discussion of what sort of

path moving objects follow and the gravitational attraction of the moon

to Earth.

The following questions are about gravitational redshift.

99. Describe the concept of red shift in terms of two observers

of a light source located a distance h from each other in

an accelerating spaceship.

shift? In other words, how can we say that an accelerating

spacecraft will have exactly the same red shift as a

stationary one in a gravitational field.

gravitational red-shift.

102.The photons used in the Pound-Rebka experiment had 14.4 keV energy.

Suppose the building was 275 m high. Calculate the change in frequency

between the top and bottom of the building.

103.Describe black holes in terms of

(a) spacetime.

(b) escape velocity.

What is another name for RS?

105.A star of mass 3.501033 kg collapses to a point forming a black hole. What

is the Schwarzschild radius of the black hole? What is the event horizon of

the black hole?

106.Deduce that the principle of equivalence predicts that time slows down near a massive body.

107.An astronaut in orbit about the black hole of the previous problem is orbiting at a radius of r = 3RS.

An observer far away watches him celebrate two consecutive birthday parties. How much has the

observer aged in that one astronaut year?

An astronaut on Mercury celebrates his birthday every year by launching fireworks that can be seen by

an Earth telescope. Mercury is located 5.79 1010 m from the sun.

108.What is the Schwarzschild radius of the sun? It has a mass of 1.991030 kg.

109.Although the sun is not a black hole, we can still use the gravitational time dilation formula and its

calculates Schwarzschild radius. Calculate out how long the astronaut’s year on Mercury lasts for an

Earth observer. Is this a measurable amount?

110.Describe the significance of the cosmological constant, both to Einstein, and to present-day

astronomers.

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