ISSN 0202-2893, Gravitation and Cosmology, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 307–312. c Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2010.

A Study of the Motion of a Relativistic Continuous Medium
S. A. Podosenov1 , J. Foukzon2 , and A. A. Potapov3
Aprelevka, Naro-Fominsky rayon, Moscow region 143360, Russia 2 Israeli Institute of Technologies 3 V.A. Kotel’nikov Institute of Radioelectronics of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Received March 31, 2010; in final form, June 11, 2010

Abstract—The main purpose of the present paper is to give an exact and correct expression describing the properties of the proper length in arbitrary relativistic translationally moving media in Minkowski space. We show, in particular, that the standard solution of Bell’s well-known problem [1] must be revised. A new solution has been found, describing the behavior of a finite physical length in the Lagrangian non-inertial reference frame comoving to the medium. This solution is absent in the existing literature. We conclude that, in the case of large enough accelerations a0 and initial distances between some points of the medium, 1, where c is the speed of light, the calculations presented in some i.e., under the condition u ≡ a0 L0 /c2 well-known papers (namely, [1, 2, 10–12]) are incorrect and should be revised. For the velocity values u 1, our results and those of all the enumerated papers coincide. DOI: 10.1134/S0202289310040080

1. INTRODUCTION In a moving continuous medium, e.g., a bunch of electrons in a constant electric field, with zero initial velocity in an inertial reference frame (IRF), where the interaction between the electrons is regarded small as compared with their interaction with the external field, the bunch length does not change. This is shown in J. Bell’s problem [1], where the role of a bunch is played by a thread which connects identical pointlike rockets in linearly accelerated motion. The solution [1] is also used in calculations of bunch motion in linear colliders [2]. However, in the non-inertial reference frame (NRF) comoving with the bunch, or with the thread in Bell’s problem, there is no correct expression for a finite instantaneous length in special relativity (SR). (We will use the Minkowski space signature (+−−−), the Greek indices will vary from 0 to 3 and Latin ones from 1 to 3.) The standard expression for finding an element of physical distance dL2 obtained with the aid of the spatial metric tensor, g0i g0k (1) γik = −gik + g00 is used incorrectly. The claim [3] that in general relativity (GR) integration of the element dL is meaningless, is true. Unlike that, in SR, integration along a hypersurface orthogonal to the world lines does make sense. In such cases it is necessary to take into account that, according to the Gauss and PetersonCodazzi equations [4] in SR, a hypersurface orthogonal to the world lines (the Lagrangian comoving

NRF) is curved, and the curvature is entirely expressed in terms of the second fundamental tensor of the hypersurface. In [5–8] it has been shown that this tensor is identical to the strain rate tensor. Therefore, in calculating the instantaneous lengths between any two particles of the continuum it is necessary to take into account the curvature of the spacelike hypersurfaces orthogonal to the world lines of a particle of the continuum. In the Euler coordinates xμ , the curvature tensor of the hypersurface has the form

Rμν,γσ = Σνγ Σμσ − Σμγ Σνσ ,


where the strain rate tensor Σαβ is orthogonal to the 4-velocity V α normalized to 1, Σμν = ∇(μ Vν) − V(μ Fν) , (3) where F μ is the 4-acceleration. In the Lagrangian coordinate y k , the strain rate tensor is related to the second fundamental tensor of the hypersurface bkl : 1 ∂γkl ˆ = Σkl . (4) bkl = 2 ∂s Equation (4) establishes a relationship between the first and second fundamental tensors on the relevant hypersurface. Due to orthogonality of the 4-velocity to the expression (3), the 4-dimensional tensor lies in the 3dimensional curved spatial hypersurface orthogonal to the basic particles’ world lines, which describes the physical 3-dimensional space of the Lagrangian



comoving NRF. The existence of such a hypersurface has been proved by J.L. Synge [16]. The integrability condition for its existence is the opportunity to solve the Pfaff equation Vμ dxμ = 0. (5) As remarked by Synge, “It follows that, in the case of non-rotational motion, the current lines form a normal congruence; in other words, there is a family of three-dimensional surfaces to which the current lines are orthogonal. It has allowed for introducing the law of translational motion of a continuum in Lagrange variables in the form [17] xμ = f μ (y ν ), xμ (6) where the Euler variables are the Cartesian (Galilean) coordinates in Minkowski space, and y k are the Lagrange coordinates which are constant along each world line of a particle of the continuum (numbers of the world lines), while y 0 is a parameter that enumerates the hypersurfaces orthogonal to the world lines. The parameter y 0 is equivalent to the global time of the Lagrangian comoving NRF. At constant y 0 , the proper times τ of the continuum particles are, in general, different, as are different the times t in the IRF as well. If we choose the parameter y 0 as a time parameter, then, after transition to the comoving NRF, the cross-terms g0k will be absent in the metric, which substantially simplifies all proofs. However, one can choose any time parameter in the above law of motion. One often chooses the proper time τ or the IRF time t. In this case, there emerge nonzero cross-terms g0k . Let us make clear the meaning of the spatial metric tensor (1), choosing in (6) an arbitrary time parameter y 0 . In [3], the spatial metric (1) has been obtained using the method of radar signal propagation between two infinitely close world lines of particle of the medium. We wish to show that the spatial distance between two close world lines from [3] precisely coincides with the spatial distance between these world lines calculated in the hypersurface orthogonal to these world lines. We start from the interval in the Cartesian coordinates of Minkowski space, represented in the form [18] dS = ημν dx dx = Vμ Vν dx dx − (−ημν + Vμ Vν ) dxμ dxν .
2 μ ν μ ν

and the conditions that the Lagrangian NRF is comoving, 1 √ ˆ ˆ V 0 = √ , V0 = g00 , g00 g0k ˆ ˆ (10) V k = 0, Vk = √ , g00 we obtain the following expression for the squared interval (7) in the Lagrangian comoving NRF: dS 2 = √ g0k g00 dy 0 + √ dy k g00 g0k g0l g00 dy k dy l .

− −gkl +


The squared interval (11) coincides with Zel’manov’s [13]. One should stress that in SR this splitting has a direct physical meaning. In GR, the physical meaning of (11) is not evident since the initial coordinates, like the Cartesian ones in SR, are absent. The relation (7) for an element of spatial length in Cartesian coordinates contains the metric tensor γμν (9), and it coincides with the projection operator which is everywhere orthogonal to the particle world lines. It means that it is the hypersurface orthogonal to the world lines that forms the physical three-dimensional space. A very important circumstance is that the radar method [3] has led us to the expression (1) which is identical to the spatial interval in (11). Thus the radar method, being applied to two infinitely close particle world lines, has led to the fact that the element of a spatial physical interval lies on the hypersurface orthogonal to the world lines, hence, the whole length must be equal to a sum of length elements on this hypersurface. If the motion of the continuum is different from rigid motion in Born’s sense, then the physical space is curved (2). A neglect of this circumstance leads to errors in calculations of an instantaneous physical distance. 2. THE SUGGESTED METHOD OF CALCULATION The calculations are performed in the simplest manner for one-dimensional motion. Let us consider, for instance, Bell’s well-known problem where two identical pointlike rockets simultaneously (by IRF clocks) begin to move in the same direction, one following the other, with constant and equal accelerations (in the astronauts’ reference frame). Suppose that these rockets are connected by a rubber (a thread) which does not affect their motion. It is required to determine how the instantaneous distance between the rockets changes from the viewpoint of the astronauts. In the Minkowski plane, i.e., the


Using the law of motion (6), the obvious relations ∂xμ V μ = Θ 0 , ημν V μ V ν = 1 = Θ2 g00 , ∂y ∂xα ∂xβ (8) gμν = ηαβ μ ν , ∂y ∂y (9) γμν ≡ −(ημν − Vμ Vν ), γμν V μ = 0,



two-dimensional section of Minkowski space that contains the world lines of the rockets and those of all particles of the thread, all these world lines fill a certain plane curvilinear band. The world line of each particle of the thread is obtained from another particle’s world line by a shift along the axis of motion in the laboratory IRF. However, the congruence of such world lines will not be rigid in Born’s sense. Speaking of the physical comoving space of the medium (the thread), we mean the spacelike line in the Minkowski plane which is everywhere orthogonal to the world lines of the thread and the rockets. Mathematically, it means that this line is everywhere orthogonal to the 4-velocity field V μ of the bunch, i.e., holds the Pfaff equation ˆ Vμ dxμ = Vν dy ν = 0, μ, ν = 0, 1. (12)

which leads to the corresponding expressions for the interval c2 dt2 a0 tdtdy 1 dS 2 = −2 1 + a0 2 t2 /c2 (1 + a0 2 t2 /c2 )1/2 − (dy 1 )2 − (dy 2 )2 − (dy 3 )2 , dS 2 = c2 (dτ )2 − 2 sinh(a0 τ /c)cdτ dy 1 − (dy 1 )2 − (dy 2 )2 − (dy 3 )2 . (19) From (16), y 1 = 0 for the back particle and y 1 = L0 for the front one. The quantity A is a parameter that enumerates the curves orthogonal to the world lines of the thread particles. The quantity A is constant along each curve and is excluded from the final result. Excluding A from the equations and supposing that, for the world line of the back particle, an arbitrary time instant t or β has been chosen, we find an equation for finding t1 or β1 at the intersection point of the spacelike curve orthogonal to the thread world lines with the world line of the front particle: L0 = (1 + c2 ln a0 (1 + (1 + β 2 ))β1
2 (1 + β1 ))β


The squared length element on the spacelike curve that connects the two world lines, of which one belongs to the backward rocket (at an arbitrary but fixed time instant t2 = t) and the front rocket (at the sought-for instant t1 of the world time), obtained from (12), is dL2 = γμν dxμ dxν , (13)



taking into account that the metric tensor of the hypersurface is a projection operator to the surface orthogonal to V μ and γμν is taken from (9). From (12), the equation for the spacelike curve reduces to dx1 = dx0 Its solution gives x1 (t) = − ln 1+ c2 a0 1 + β2 + A. (15) 1 + β2 , β β= a0 t . c (14)

Omitting simple but rather bulky algebraic transformations, we find a0 L0 β1 = cosh β c2 a0 L0 1 + β2, + sinh c2


where L0 is the initial length of the thread. Let us calculate the thread length L(t) as a function of the world time. From (12)–(14) we find the expression for the length dL dL = c2 dβ c2 dt = . a0 t a0 β (22)

(1 + β 2 ) β

Integrating (22), we obtain L(t) = a0 L0 c2 ln cosh a0 c2 a0 L0 1 + β2 . + sinh c2

It is required to determine the times from the equations of intersection of the spacelike curve (15) with the world lines of the back and front particles. The curved world lines can be found from the law of motion of the medium for the globally hyperbolic case [9] x1 (y 1 , t) = y 1 + (c2 /a0 )[ 1 + a0 2 t2 /c2 − 1], x2 = y 2 , or x1 (y 1 , τ ) = y 1 + c2 /a0 [cosh(a0 τ /c) − 1], x2 = y 2 , x3 = y 3 , t = (c/a0 ) sinh(a0 τ /c).


x3 = y 3 ,

x0 = y 0 ,


Using the Pfaff equation (12) in the Lagrangian comoving NRF, we arrive at the same result as given by (22), while the spatial “physical” metric (1) is obtained in a natural way using the projection operator (9), equivalently to the radar method. Indeed, ˆ V0 1 dy 1 =− = , ˆ1 dy 0 β V (24)

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where we have used (10) and (18). From (14) it follows dy 1 dy 1 dx1 1 = 1 0 = . (25) 0 dx dx dx β 1 + β2 Eqs. (9) and (16) yield g0i g0k ∂xμ ∂xν = γik = −gik + , γμν i ∂y ∂y k g00 which coincides with (1). From (1) and (25) we have for one-dimensional motion c2 dβ dy 1 , dL = 1 + β 2 0 dx0 = dx a0 β whence follows (23). A more general formula on the basis of Zel’manov’s theory of chronometric invariants [13] has been suggested by J. Foukzon [14], and it also leads in a special case to the result (23). The coincidence follows from the fact that, in the Lagrangian comoving NRF, the Pfaff equation is entirely equivalent to the requirement that the chronometrically invariant time interval turns to zero. Indeed, from (10) and (11) we have g0k √ g00 dy 0 + √ dy k g00 0 ˆ ˆ = V0 dy + Vk dy k = 0. (26) 3. ANALYSIS OF THE PREVIOUS STUDIES To find the metric corresponding to the motion of a linearly accelerated continuous medium in an instantaneously comoving inertial reference frame (ICIRF), one usually [9] proceeds from a pseudo-Euclidean interval given in the Euler variables xμ expressed in terms of the Lagrange variables y ν in the form of the laws of motion (16), (17). From [9] we have the following expressions for the “physical distance” at the IRF time t: dL2 = (1 + a0 2 t2 /c2 )(dy 1 )2 + (dy 2 )2 + (dy 3 )2 , and for the proper time τ , dL2 = cosh2 (a0 τ /c)(dy 1 )2 + (dy 2 )2 + (dy 3 )2 . (28) The nonzero component of the strain rate tensor of the Lagrangian comoving system has the form (4), a0 ˆ (29) Σ11 = 2 sinh(2a0 τ /c). 2c The calculations on the basis of finding the thread length in Bell’s problem using the ICIRF lead to significant errors for u 1. The essence of such errors is that the straight line drawn in the Minkowski plane along the spacelike unit vector of the ICIRF on the world line of the back rocket in the direction (27)

of the front rocket, does not coincide in direction with the spacelike unit vectors of the ICICR located at other points of the thread, including the point where the front rocket is attached [11]. This error is a consequence of neglecting the curvature of the spacelike line connecting the rocket world lines in the Minkowski plane. The spacelike straight line along the ICIRF spatial unit vector, connecting the rocket world lines, does not belong to the physical space but is only tangent to it at one point (the ICIRF origin). Similar calculations of the thread length are presented in [10], where the ICIRF origin was located on the front rocket. Since the unit vectors of the ICIRF bases considered in [10] and [11] were not parallel, the calculation results were different. Another way of calculating the thread length was used in [2, 12]: the standard metric (1) was used, and its length element, as we have shown above, lies in the curved spacelike line, orthogonal to the world lines of the thread and the rockets. However, for finding the length using Eq. (27), the spacelike line (the integration path) was chosen to be the straight line t = const, dy 2 = dy 3 = 0. This led to the result L0 . (30) L(t) = L0 1 + a0 2 t2 /c2 = 1 − v 2 (t)/c2 In other words, an infinitesimal Lorentzian lengthening of the thread in the Lagrangian comoving NRF was wrongly replaced with a finite lengthening, which is only justified for u 1. For comparison, we present the relative lengthening expressions, K = L/L0 , according to [2, 10–12]: K[10] = (1 + u cosh(γ) − u (−1 + u cosh(γ) + K[11] = u K[2,12] = cos γ, 1 + u2 sinh2 (γ)) , (31) 1 + u2 sinh2 (γ)) , (32) (33)

where γ = a0 τ /c. We see that the solution of Bell’s problem has led to three radically different results. This indicates that there is no proper understanding in the problem of finding a finite length of the thread in Bell’s problem. 4. COMPARISON OF THE RESULTS For comparison with the above enumerated studies, let us rewrite Eq. (22) in a dimensionless form: ln(cosh(u) + sinh(u) cosh(γ)) L(t) , = K= L0 u cosh(γ) = 1 + β2.
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For u 1 and β of the order of unity we obtain the expression K = cosh(γ) = K[2,12] = K[10] = K[11] (35) connected with the ordinary Lorentz transformation. Quite a different situation emerges in the case of an ultrarelativistic motion of a continuous medium (e.g., for a bunch of charged particles in a linear collider). Since this problem has been treated in detail in [15] (where Eqs. (16), (18) and (44) contain misprints by the authors’ fault) and is not a subject of the present paper, we will only note that, in the ultrarelativistic case, the difference in the expressions becomes very significant. If u 1 and γ ∼ 10, which corresponds to a real case, then K[2,12] ∼ 104 and do not depend on u. For u ∼ 103 , K[10] ∼ 10−3 , K[11] ∼ 2 × 104 . In our case, for the specified values of the parameters u and γ, K ∼ 1.01. Since u is large and γ ∼ 10, the expression for K is simplified and takes the form K = 1 + (2/u) ln cosh(γ/2). (36) Thus the length of an electronic bunch in our case, at the end of the acceleration process, taking into account the curvature of the spacelike line, is practically preserved. The standard calculation according to [2, 12], which neglects both the curvature of the world line of the thread front end and the curvature of the spacelike curve, predicts a thread lengthening by a factor of 10 000 at the end of the acceleration in the Lagrangian comoving NRF. The improved approach of [11] yields for this case a lengthening by a factor of 20000, and lastly, the approach of [10] predicts practical vanishing of the thread length at the end of the acceleration. Let us note that, for observers in an IRF, the globally hyperbolic motion [9] in Bell’s problem leaves invariable both the thread length and the length of an electronic bunch in a collider. 5. CONCLUSION In conclusion, let us note that a calculation of the proper length of a thread in Bell’s problem, using an ICIRF instead of the Lagrangian comoving NRF, leads to an absurd result in the ultrarelativistic case. A reasonable result is obtained by taking into account the curvature of a spacelike curve according to (23). At small values of u, u → 0, K = K[2,12] = K[10] = K[11] = cosh γ. What is the essence of the errors in [1, 2, 10– 12]? In [1, 2, 12], the calculations of a spatial physical distance use Eq. (1), which, as we have proved, determines the physical spacelike metric of the hypersurface orthogonal to the world lines. This metric coincides with the spatial metric [3] obtained by the radar method for infinitely close world lines of medium particles. The use of the radar method for particles at

finite distances and for continuum motions which are not rigid in Born’s sense leads to errors. It is shown in a figure in [14]. Integration in [2, 12] between the world lines takes place along the line t = const or τ = const , which is the same for a globally hyperbolic motion. Thus, during integration, the authors leave the physical space comoving with the medium. In [10] and [11], one calculates the length along a spacelike vector of a certain ICIRF from the world line of Bell’s first rocket up to intersection with the world line of the second rocket [10], and in [11], vice versa, from the second to the first one. In both cases the authors leave the Lagrangian comoving NRF. The spacelike unit vectors of the ICIRF do not lie on the same spacelike straight line at their intersection points with the world lines of thread elements which connects Bell’s rockets up to its rupture. In our paper, unlike all the enumerated ones, the length elements are integrated along the same line in Minkowski space for which the spatial metric tensor (1) is defined, remaining inside the physical space. A more detailed consideration has been performed by the authors in [14, 15]. The relation (23) is quite new and has not been used in the scientific literature by anybody but the authors. REFERENCES
1. J. S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics (Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 67. 2. S. S. Gershtein and A. A. Logunov, J. Bell’s Problem. Particle and Nuclear Physics 29, 5th issue (1998). 3. L. D. Landau and E. M. Lifshitz, Field Theory (Nauka, Moscow, 1973). 4. P. K. Rashevsky, Riemannian Geometry and Tensor Analysis (GITTL, Moscow, 1953). 5. S. A. Podosenov, Tetrad Formulation of Motion of an Elastic Medium in Special Relativity, Izv. Vuzov, Fiz. № 4, 45 (1970). 6. S. A. Podosenov, Relativistic Kinematics of a Deformable Medium in Special Relativity. In: Problemy Terii Gravitatsii. Teor. i Mat. Fiz., 1st issue (VNIIOFI, Moscow, 1972), p. 60–72. 7. S. A. Podosenov, Space, Time and Classical Fields of Bound Structures (Sputnik publishers, Moscow, 2000). 8. S. A. Podosenov, A. A. Potapov, and A. A. Sokolov, Impulse Electrodynamics of Wide-Band Radio Systems and the Fields of Bound Structures (Radiotekhnika, Moscow, 2003). 9. A. A. Logunov, Lectures on Relativity and Gravitation. Modern Analysis of the Problem (Nauka, Moscow, 1987). 10. D. V. Redzic, Note on Devan-Beran-Bell’s spaceship problem, Eur. J. Phys. 29, 11 (2008). 11. D. V. Peregudov, Comments to the paper by Redzic [10] Eur. J. Phys. 29 (2008).


PODOSENOV et al. in Linear Colliders, Nelineinyi Mir 7 (8), 612 (2009). 16. J. L. Synge, Relativity: the General Theory (NHPC, Amsterdam, 1960). 17. S. A. Podosenov, Relativistic Mechanics of a Deformable Medium in Tetrad Formulation, PhD thesis (Peoples’ Friendship University, Moscow, 1972). 18. H. Dehnen, in: Einstein Proceedings 1969–1970 (Nauka, Moscow, 1970), p. 140.

12. V. L. Ginzburg and Yu. N. Eroshenko, Once Again on the Equivalence Principle, Uspekhi Fiz. Nauk 165, 2 (1995). 13. A. L. Zel’manov, in: Proc. of the 6th Meeting on Cosmogony (AN SSSR publishers, Moscow, 1959). 14. J. Foukzon, S. A. Podosenov, and A. A. Potapov, Relativistic length expansion in general accelerated system revisited, ArXiv: 0910.2298. 15. S. A. Podosenov, J. Foukzon, and A. A. Potapov, Bell’s Problem and a Study of Electronic Bunches


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