THREE LECTURES
ON SPECIAL RELATIVITY
Then God said, "Let there be
light," and there was light. And
God saw that the light was
good.
Genesis
And he made it the fastest thing in the Universe
By Taras Plakhotnik
School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland
Other learning resources on relativity
Wolfgang Rindler, Introduction to Special Relativity (Oxford University Press)
Wolfgang Rindler, Relativity : special, general, and cosmological
Hans Stephani, Relativity, (Cambridge University Press)
D.W. Hogg, Web notes on special relativity, http://cosmo.nyu.edu/hogg/sr/
W.S.C. Williams, Introduction to Special Relativity, (Taylor and Francis, 2002)
Michael Tsamparlis, Special Relativity (Springer, 2010) available as an electronic book from the
UQ library/
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
2
GLOSSARY
Reference Frame is a space coordinate system and a set of clocks located at every
point of space. All these clocks are stationary in their reference frame (that is they have
permanent, time independent coordinates) and are synchronized with each other. The
time of an event is measured by the clock located at the same place as that of the event.
Other physical quantities (electrical field, magnetic field, charge density, etc) are always
explicitly or implicitly related to a reference frame when one specifies a point in the co
ordinate space and the time reading (by the clock nearest to at that point) when a
particular quantity was determined. For example, electrical fields are frequently
described as a threedimensional vectorfunction of four variables ( ) , , , x y z t E .
Inertial Reference Frame is a frame in which Newton’s first law is valid. Strictly
speaking, rather abstract theoretical concepts. In practice, we expect that an object
which is far from all other objects is a good approximation for an origin of an inertial
reference frame. If an object moves with acceleration in a certain reference frame, we
search for force acting on that object and if the force can not be identified despite all the
efforts, we assume that the reference frame is not inertial. The canter of mass of our
nearest star is a very good approximation to the origin of an inertial reference frame.
Even a point stationary relative to the surface of our planet will do reasonably well in
many cases.
Observer is a fiction person introduced in textbooks to confuse the students. We will
use observer only if we are interested in actual visual impression which a real person
would receive if he/she were present at a certain location and at a certain time.
Rest Frame is a concept used to confuse those who are not yet confused. There is no
such thing as an absolute rest frame. But there is always a frame in which a selected
object is at rest. Such a frame is called comoving frame (with the object selected).
Event has a more restricted meaning in physics than in conventional English. An event
occurs at a point in space (does not have any size) and at one instant of time. It can be
described by one set of coordinates (x, y, z, t) in a specified frame. Remember that time
is measured by the clock at the location of an event.
Simultaneous events are events which occur at the same time in a specified reference
frame.
Squared Interval is defined between any two events as
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
2 2 2 2
2 2
12 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1
s c t t x x y y z z ∆ ≡ − − − − − − − . Note that the squared interval can
be negative.
Proper Time is a confusing name for the interval divided by the speed of light in
vacuum,
2
12
s c τ ≡ ∆ (note that this definition makes sense only if
2
12
0 s ∆ ≥ ). The proper
time coincides with time between two events measured in a certain reference frame if
the two events have the same space coordinates.
Length Contraction and Time Dilation are somewhat misleading concepts widely
used in textbooks. They simply represent two special cases of Lorentz transformations.
The distance between two events measured at the same time in some reference frame is
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
3
shorter (by a factor of γ ) than the distance between these events in a reference frame
where they are not simultaneous (do not have the same time). The time between two
events at the same place is longer (by a factor of γ ) than the time between these events
in a reference frame where they are not at the same place (do not have the same space
coordinates). The concepts are misleading because they lead away from the complete
Lorentz transformations where time and position are interrelated (this relation is the
essence of Special Relativity).
Relative velocity is the velocity of one object relative to other. That is, velocity of
object A relative to object B is the velocity of object A in a reference frame comoving
with object B (see Rest Frame).
Thoughtexperiment is not an experiment but a mental exercise designed to illustrate
the theoretical concepts for educational purposes. At most, such “experiments” can
demonstrate that the theory is not self contradictive but can not prove that the theory is
correct.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
4
Lecture 1
Concepts:
Events. Reference frame. Relativity postulates. Transformation of
coordinates. Galilean transformations. Deriving Lorentz
transformations. Invariance of the squared interval under Lorentz
transformations. Absolute past and absolute future.
Questions for consideration
How to measure a length of a moving rod?
Events and a reference frame
Physical events are described by four numbers which refer to a certain reference frame.
A reference frame is made of an infinite number of synchronized clocks covering the
whole space. Each clock has definitive and fixed coordinates (see Fig. 1). For every
event, three numbers ( ) , , x y z specify the space coordinates of the clock nearest to the
event (in theory the clock location coincides with the location of the event) and the
fourth number tells the time t shown by that clock. We will say that this event is
described by its four coordinated in reference frame O. The event coordinates are
( ) , , x y z ′ ′ ′ and t′ respectively in reference frame O′ . The second reference frame is not
fundamentally different from the first frame but these two frames can move relative to
each other. Four coordinates of an event will be written in several ways such as
[ ] , , , x y z t , [ ]
1 2 3 4
, , , x x x x , or [ ]
1 2 3
, , , x x x t depending on the circumstances and
convenience.
Because the frameforming clocks are distributed in space, some attention should be
paid to their synchronization. Only clocks located at the same location can be compared
directly. One way to synchronize two clocks is to move an exact replica of one clock to
the location of the second clock. This motion should be done with a very slow speed (in
theory a limit of zero speed should be taken which would require infinitely long time to
cover a finite distance) to avoid acceleration. Alternatively, a signal with a known
propagation velocity υ can be sent from one clock to the other when, for example, the
first clock shows zero time. When the pulse arrives to the second clock, the clock can
be set to the time / t L υ = , where L is the distance between the clocks. There is nothing
special about using a pulse of light for this purpose, except for light being able to
propagate in vacuum and that its speed in vacuum is known to high accuracy (actually
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
5
this speed is used as an etalon in the modern metrology and therefore its value is known
exactly).
A concept useful for understanding the relativity is a world line shown in Fig. 2.
An object with a constant velocity will have a straight world line. The speed of the
particle equals cot θ . The angle theta determines the gradient of the curve as shown in
Fig. 2.
Relativity Principles
1. Absolute uniform motion (motion with a constant velocity) cannot be detected
(Galileo, Newton, etc).
In other words, all laws of mechanics (later extended to laws of physics) are identical in
all reference frames moving with a constant velocity relative to each other. An example
of such a law is Newton’s First Law – Every object will stay in uniform motion unless
an external force is applied. A body moving with a constant velocity in reference frame
O will move with a constant velocity in reference frame O′ if the O′ moves with a
constant velocity relative to O. O′ may have different orientation (directions of the
three axes) relative to O and a different location of its origin. But what is the reference
frame where the law holds? It holds in inertial reference frames. In fact, Newton’s First
t
1
x
1
t
x
Figure 2. If at time
1
t the location of an
object is
1
x , this can be represented by a
point on the xt plane. Motion of an object
is then represented by a curve which is
called a world line.
θ
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3 9
1
6
3
x
′
y
′
z
′
O
′
u
Figure 1. Infinite spacegrid of identical clocks is set up in every
reference frame. These clocks are at rest and synchronized in the
corresponding reference frame. When an event happens, its space
coordinates and time are read from the coordinates of the nearest clock
and the time shown by that clock.
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3 9
1
6
3
x
y
z
O
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
9
1
6
3
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
6
Law postulates the existence of such a frame. From the above formulated principle it
follows that Newton’s First Law also holds in a reference frame which moves uniformly
relative to a reference frame which is already proved to be inertial.
2. The speed of light in vacuum is the same in all reference frames (Einstein).
The historically first experiment verifying that the speed of light is independent of the
reference frame was performed by Michelson and Morley. They observed that the speed
of light relative to Earth is the same despite the orbital motion of the Earth and/or
different directions of light propagation. Modern particle accelerators are able to
accelerate particles to the velocities extremely close to the speed of light in vacuum.
Design of accelerators and the analysis of experimental results obtained with particles
colliding at high speeds rely on relativistic Newton's laws which are derived later in the
course. The constancy of the speed of light also follows from Maxwell equations and
the assumption that these equations are valid in all inertial reference frames.
Transformation of coordinates. “Standard” pair of reference frames
Apparently, there must be a relation between the sets of 4coordinates in different
reference frames. We assume that there is a universal transformation describing how to
calculate the primed coordinates of an event given its not primed coordinates and the
relative velocity of the two frames.
Any straight world line remains a straight world line in any inertial reference frame
because if the velocity is constant in one inertial reference frame it is also constant (time
independent) in any other inertial reference frame. The only transformation of
coordinates which transforms a straight line into a straight line is a linear
transformation.
Conventionally for simplicity, the following conditions are assumed valid.
1) The primed reference frame moves in the xdirection with velocity u. 2) The
corresponding axes of the two reference frames are parallel to each other.
3) When the locations of the two origins O and O′ coincide in space, the two clocks
located at the origins of the two reference frames show zero time.
These two frames will be called a standard pair of the reference frames or simply
standard reference frames for briefness (see Fig. 1). Since the direction of the velocity
u is parallel to the xaxis, the velocity fully described just only one number u . The sign
of this number is positive if the velocity vector points in the direction from negative x to
positive x and negative if it points in the −∞ xdirection.
These conditions are not limitations of the theory which can be easily generalized to
arbitrary inertial reference frames.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
7
If the above conditions are not satisfied, one can use reference frames O′′ and O′′′
which are not moving relative to O and O′ respectively but which satisfy the above
conditions.
First, O′′ and O′′′ are rotated in space relative to O and O′ respectively in such a way
that 1) the velocity u is parallel to x′′ and x′′′ ; 2) y y ′′ ′′′ 3) z z ′′ ′′′ . Obviously, O′′
and O′′′ satisfy the conditions 1) and 2).
The space coordinates of O and O′′ (and similar for O′
and O′′′ ) are related through the ordinary Euclidian
geometry based expressions. A vectormatrix notation
can be used to write
ˆ
x x
y y
′′
= ℜ
′′
, where
ˆ
ℜ stands for
a rotation matrix. For example, in a twodimensional
case shown in the figure below the relation between the
coordinates is derived as follows
( )
( )
cos cos cos sin sin cos sin
sin sin cos cos sin sin cos
x r r r x y
y r r r x y
φ ϕ φ ϕ φ ϕ ϕ ϕ
φ ϕ φ ϕ φ ϕ ϕ ϕ
′′ = − = + = +
′′ = − = − = − +
This can be written as
cos sin
sin cos
x x
y y
ϕ ϕ
ϕ ϕ
′′
=
′′ −
The time in reference frame O′′ is synchronized with time in O. That is t t ′′ = . The time
in reference frame O′′′ can be set with an arbitrary shift t ∆ so that generally
t t t ′′′ ′ = + ∆ . But t ∆ can be chosen to satisfy the convention 3) above. That is the clock
at origin of O′′′ shows zero when space location of the origin coincides with the origin
of O′′ .
For the rest of the course we will deal with the standard configuration of the reference
frames.
Lorentz transformations
For a pair of standards reference frames the transformation of y and z coordinates is
very simple y y ′ = and z z ′ = . It is not so for the xcoordinate and time.
In classical Newtonian mechanics, the relation between two events are given by
Galilean transformations
ϕ
x
y
y′′
x′′
φ
r
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
8
t t
x x ut
′ = ¦
´
′ = −
¹
It is easy to see that these transformations violate second Einstein’s postulate: The
velocity of anything (including light) depends on the reference frame according to
Galilean velocity addition formula ′ = − υ υ u .
A general form for a linear transformation of x and t from O to O′ is
t x t
x x t
α β
γ δ
′ = + ¦
´
′ = +
¹
(1)
All four coefficients may be functions of velocity u , the velocity of O′ relative to O.
The world line of the origin of the primed reference frame is 0 x′ ≡ in the primed
reference frame and satisfies the equation x ut = in the not primed reference frame.
When these two equalities are substituted into the equation x x t γ δ ′ = + , one gets
0 ut t γ δ = + (2)
Therefore we must have u δ γ = − . Thus, only three parameters are left in the linear
relation (Eq. 1) and we are seeking a transformation in the form
( )
t x t
x x ut
α β
γ
′ = + ¦
¦
´
′ = −
¦
¹
(3)
which is obtained from Eq (1) by substitution u δ γ = − . These equations should
satisfy the Einstein’s axioms.
The speed of light must be the same in all reference frames, therefore by substitution
( ) x x ut γ ′ = − and t x t α β ′ = +
(i) world line x ct ′ ′ = should transform into world line x ct =
(ii) world line x ct ′ ′ = − should transform into world line x ct = − .
Substation of the expressions for x′ and t′ into x ct ′ ′ = and x ct ′ ′ = − gives
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
x ut c x t
x ut c x t
γ α β
γ α β
− = + ¦
¦
´
− = − +
¦
¹
(4)
respectively. By solving each of these equations for x one gets
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
9
c u
x t
c
c u
x t
c
β γ
γ α
β γ
γ α
+ ¦
=
¦
−
¦
´
− +
¦
=
¦
+
¹
. (5)
The required linear dependencies x ct = and x ct = − emerge only if
c u
c
c
c u
c
c
β γ
γ α
β γ
γ α
+ ¦
=
¦
−
¦
´
− +
¦
= −
¦
+
¹
(6)
or in an equivalent form
2
2
c u c c
c u c c
β γ γ α
β γ γ α
¦ + = −
¦
´
− = +
¦
¹
(7)
where by solving for α and β we obtain
2
u
c
β γ
α γ
= ¦
¦
´
= −
¦
¹
(8)
Thus, the transformation from not primed to primed coordinates must be
( )
2
x x ut
u
t t x
c
γ
γ
′ = − ¦
¦
´
 
′ = −
 ¦
\ ¹ ¹
, (9)
where the only not yet determined parameter is γ . This transformation can be inverted
(to obtain transformation from primed to not primed reference frame) by solving
Equations (9) for x and t . We begin by solving the upper equation for x
1
x x ut
γ
′ = + (10)
next, substitute this solution into the lower equation
2
2 2
1
u u
t t x
c c
γ
 
′ ′ = − −

\ ¹
, (11)
solve it for t and then substitute the solution into Equation (10)
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
10
( )
2 2
2
2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2
1
1
1 / 1
1 1 1
u
t t x
c u
c
u c ut
x x x x ut
u u u
c c c
γ
γ
γ γ γ
¦  
′ ′ = +
 ¦
 
\ ¹
¦
−

¦
\ ¹ ¦
´
′
¦
′ ′ ′ ′ = + + = +
¦
     
− − −
¦
  
¦ \ ¹ \ ¹ \ ¹ ¹
(12)
Now we exploit the symmetry between the primed and not primed reference frames. We
use the fact that there is no difference between the primed and not primed reference
frame accept for the value of the relative velocity. Remember that the laws of physics
(and the Lorentz transformations is one of such laws) should be identical in all reference
frames. Therefore the transformations from x′ and t′ to x and t also can be obtained
from Eq. (9) by replacing u with u′ , the velocity of O relative to O′ .
( )( )
( )
2
x u x u t
u
t u t x
c
γ
γ
′ ′ ′ ′ = − ¦
¦
′ ´
 
′ ′ ′ = −
 ¦
\ ¹ ¹
(13)
The agreement between Eq. (13) and Eq. (12) appears only if
( )
( )
( )
( )
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
u
u
u
c
u
u u
u
u
c
γ
γ
γ
γ
¦
′ =
¦
 
¦
−

¦
\ ¹
´
¦
′ ′ = −
¦
 
−
¦ 
\ ¹ ¹
(14)
Therefore
( ) ( )
2
2
1
u u
u
u u
c
γ γ
′ = − ¦
¦
 
´
− = −

¦
\ ¹ ¹
Thus, the transformation relating 4coordinates of the same event when described in two
reference frames reads
x
u
−u
A)
B)
Drawing A) can be obtained from B) by flipping left and right.
Because there is no physical different between left and right,
Lorentz transformation should not change if x is replaced by x −
and u is replaced by u − . Therefore ( ) u γ must be equal to ( ) u γ − .
x −
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
11
( )
1/ 2
2
2
1/ 2
2
2 2
1
1
u
x x ut
c
u u
t t x
c c
−
−
 
′ = − −

\ ¹
 
 
′ = − −
 
\ ¹
\ ¹
(15)
and is called Lorentz transformation.
Transformation of a particle’s trajectory to a different RF
If a trajectory is given by equations
( )
( )
x g t
y f t
=
=
,
where ( ) g t and ( ) f t are arbitrary functions of time (of course there is a limit for
velocity which a physical particle can have and therefore
2 2
2
dg df
c
dt dt
   
+ ≤
 
\ ¹ \ ¹
should hold) we can transform these trajectories to a primed reference frame.
Because Lorentz transformations from not primed frame to primed frame
(standard configuration) are
( )
2
x x ut
y y
u
t t x
c
γ
γ
′ ′ = +
′ =
 
′ ′ = +

\ ¹
we can substitute these relations into trajectory equations
( )
2
2
u
x ut g t x
c
u
y f t x
c
γ γ
γ
   
′ ′ ′ ′ + = +
 
\ ¹ \ ¹
   
′ ′ ′ = +
 
\ ¹ \ ¹
It may be possible to solve the top equation for x′ and get ( ) x G t ′ ′ = , where ( ) G t′
is a function of time in the primed reference frame. This function can be
substituted into the equation for y′ . Thus one gets
( )
( )
2
x G t
u
y f t G t
c
γ
′ ′ =
   
′ ′ ′ = +
 
\ ¹ \ ¹
,
the trajectory of the same particle in the primed reference frame.
Properties of Lorentz transformations
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
12
1. Non relativistic limit. If the speed of light is formally set to infinity, the Lorentz
transformations are equivalent to the Galilean transformations. It is a good idea to look
at the limit c →∞ in any relativistic problem to make sure that the solution converges
to the non relativistic Newtonian mechanics.
2. Interval. Let us calculate in different reference frames the value of
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
2 2 2 2
2 2 2
12 2 1 2 1
s c t t x x c t x ≡ − − − ≡ ∆ − ∆ , where the subscripts refer to two events.
In a primed reference frame the value of
( )
2
2
2 2 2 2 2 2 2
12 2
2 2 2 2
2
u
s c t x c t x x u t
c
c t u t x
γ γ
γ γ
 
′ ′ ′ ≡ ∆ − ∆ = ∆ − ∆ − ∆ − ∆ =

\ ¹
∆ + ∆ ∆
2
2 2 2 2 2
2
2
u
x x u t x
c
γ γ γ + ∆ − ∆ − ∆ ∆
( )
2 2 2
2
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
12 2
1
u t
u
c u t x c t x s
c
γ
γ γ
− ∆ =
 
− ∆ − − ∆ = ∆ −∆ ≡

\ ¹
(16)
The quantity
2
12
s is the same in all reference frames for any two events. This
number is called a squared interval
Generally, in 3D space the squared interval is defined by
2 2 2 2 2 2
12 12 12 12 12
s c t x y z ≡ ∆ − ∆ − ∆ − ∆ (17)
It is also true in 3D that the squared interval does not change (it is an invariant) under
Lorentz transformations.
If a squared interval is lager than zero, it is called timelike. If a squared interval is
smaller than zero, it is called spacelike.
Note 1: Distance between events is invariant under rotation of the space coordinates but
is not invariant under Lorentz transformation.
Absolute past and absolute future
The value of
2
12
s as defined above can have any sign (do not be confused by the
superscript 2). Because
2
12
s is an invariant (does not depend on the reference frame), the
sign of
2
12
s is the same in all reference frames. This sign is very important because it
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
13
tells a lot about possible relations between the two events for which the squared interval
is calculated.
1. When
2
12
0 s > , the chronological order of the two events is absolute, it is the same in
all reference frames. Such two events are said to have timelike separation or simply are
called timelike events.
Note that when c is infinitely large (that is when Newton’s mechanics is valid) this
inequality always holds and therefore all events are timelike.
Prove. The Lorentz transformation for time separation between two events is
2 1 2
u
t t t t x
c
γ
 
′ ′ ′ − ≡ ∆ = ∆ − ∆

\ ¹
(18)
If the squared interval is larger than zero, then
2 2 2
c t x t x c ∆ > ∆ → ∆ > ∆ and therefore
2
u
t x
c
∆ > ∆ (19)
as long as u c < . The latest inequality holds for any physically allowed reference frame
and hence as follows from Eqs. (18) and (19) the sign of t′ ∆ coincides with the sign of
t ∆ .
In other words, if
2 1
t t > , then
2 1
t t ′ ′ > and if
2 1
t t < , then
2 1
t t ′ ′ < .
The locations of two timelike events can always be made identical by choosing an
appropriate reference frame. ( )
2 1
x x x x u t γ ′ ′ ′ − ≡ ∆ = ∆ − ∆ is zero if x u t ∆ = ∆ , that is if
x
u
t
∆
=
∆
(20)
Because u c < for a physically allowed reference frame, the equality can be achieved
only if
2 2 2
0 c x t c t x > ∆ ∆ → ∆ −∆ > . That is when the squared interval is larger than
zero.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
14
2. When
2
12
0 s < , the chronological order of the two events depends on the reference
frame. Such two events are said to have spacelike separation or simply called spacelike
events. These events can not be considered as being a physical cause/consequence of
each other because such relation should not depend on the reference frame (logically the
cause can not follow the consequence).
For example, two spacelike events can be made simultaneous because by choosing an
appropriate primed reference frame we can get
2
0
u
t t x
c
γ
 
′ ∆ = ∆ − ∆ =

\ ¹
. (21)
This can be achieved if the primed reference frame is moving with velocity
2
t
u c
x
∆
=
∆
(22)
And if
2 2 2
0 1 c t x c t x ∆ − ∆ < → ∆ ∆ < , the required speed is physically allowed
(
x
u c
t
∆
≡ <
∆
).
Final remarks for Lecture 1
In this Lecture Notes we do not talk about time dilation and length contraction, the
central topics of many elementary text books. Actually, the best advice I can give you is
to avoid such terminology. A typical statement which can be seen here and there “ time
runs slower in a mowing reference frame” is quite misleading. Time does not do it! If
taken seriously and/or without an explanation, such a statement is logically absurd. You
have to make sense of time being slower in the primed frame than in the not primed
frame (because the primed is moving relative to the not primed) and at the same time
being slower in the not primed framed because it is moving relative to the primed. But
the theory is built on logic. Is this the instance when impossibility of understanding the
theory is revealed? I do not think so!
The SR theory interconnects time and x,y,z coordinated in a single –dimensional space.
In other (in a bit simpler) words time in the primed frame (for example) is expressed as
a linear combination of x coordinate and time in the not primed frame. Consider a pair
of events 1 and 2 such that their location is the same in the primed frame. That is
1,2
0 x′ ∆ = . Then
1,2 1,2 1,2 1,2 2
u
t t x t
c
γ γ
 
′ ′ ′ ∆ = ∆ + ∆ = ∆

\ ¹
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
15
Because 1 γ > we conclude that
1,2 1,2
t t′ ∆ > ∆ . So indeed, the time interval is smaller in
the primed frame and one may say that the time runs slower in the primed frame.
However, take two events (3 and 4) such that they are at the same location in the not
primed frame (
3,4
0 x′ ∆ = ). Then
3,4 3,4 3,4 3,4 2
u
t t x t
c
γ γ
 
′ ∆ = ∆ − ∆ = ∆

\ ¹
.
The γ is on the wrong side!
Thus, for some events the time interval is shorter in the primed frame and for some
other the time interval is shorter in not primed frame. Is this a surprise? No!
Look at an example of ordinary linear transformation (rotation) of two space frames.
For point A,
A A
x x′ > but for point B
B B
x x′ < . Very few people have ever complained or
have called it a paradox.
Same problem can be seen with the length contraction. Just consider two events which
happen at the same time in the primed frame and then in another pair of events that are
at the same time in the primed frame.
x
y
y′
x′
A
B
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
16
Lecture 2
Concepts:
Vectors. Vectors in Euclidian space. Scalar product in Minkovski
space. Proper time. 4velocity. Quotient rule. 4Wavevector.
Doppler effect. Aberration effect. Transformation of the phase
velocity.
A geometrical concept of a vector is useful because any relations between vectors are
frame invariant. These relations hold after any allowed transformation of coordinates.
For example, + = a b c holds after any 3D rotation or after translation in space.
Vectors
Generally, vectors are geometrical objects which can be added to each other and can be
multiplied by a number. Given a coordinate system (base vectors), each Ndimensional
vector is identified by its n components. For example, a 2dimentional vector
[ ]
1 2
, a a → a
. These numbers can be transformed to a different coordinate system (a
different set of base vectors) according to the transformation defined by N relations for
each m
1
N
m mn n
n
a p a
=
′ =
∑
, (23)
where
2
N numbers
mn
p are the same for all vectors (but depend on the choice of the
coordinate systems involved in the transformation). There must be one to one
correspondence between [ ]
1 2
, ,...,
N
a a a ′ ′ ′ and [ ]
1 2
, ,...,
N
a a a therefore ( ) det 0
mn
p ≠ must
hold to ensure that the linear equations (27) can be solved for
n
a .
Addition of two vectors and multiplication of a vector by a number reads in coordinate
representation as
a
c
b
Figure 3. An example of two
vectors a and b which are
geometrically added to
produce vector c .
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
17
[ ]
1 1 2 2
, ,...,
N N
a b a b a b = + → ≡ + + + c a b c
(24)
and
[ ]
1 2
, ,...,
N
c c c α α α α ≡ c
(25)
Vectors in Euclidian space
Under certain transformations of the coordinate system such as rotation, translation, and
their combinations, the following quantity
2
2 2 2
1 2
...
N
a a a ≡ + + + a
(26)
does not change. Such a quantity is said to be invariant. The particular quantity defined
by Eq. (26) is called a length and is a not negative number. In a space where the axioms
and postulates of Euclidean geometry apply,
2 2 2
1 2
...
N
a a a + + + is an invariant. The
space is called an Euclidian vector space.
Scalar or dotproduct
Because
( ) ( ) ( )
( )
2
2 2 2
1 1 2 2
2
2
1 1 2 2
...
2 ...
N N
N N
a b a b a b
a b a b a b
+ = + + + + + +
= + + + + +
a b
a b
(27)
and
2
2
, a b
2
+ a b
are invariant under rotations, translations and their combinations,
1 1 2 2
...
N N
a b a b a b + + + should be also invariant under these transformations. An invariant
which can be defined for any two vectors is called a scalar product. In Euclidian space
the scalar product is therefore defined as
1 1 2 2
....
N N
a b a b a b ⋅ ≡ + + + a b
(28)
This scalar product has obvious properties:
⋅ = ⋅ c a a c
(29)
( )
+ ⋅ = ⋅ + ⋅ a b c a c b c
(30)
( )
α α ⋅ = ⋅ a b a b
(31)
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
18
Note that the definition of the scalar product depends on the transformation of the
coordinates. Not every transformation preserves length as defined by
2
2 2 2
1 1
...
N
a a a ≡ + + + a
.
Examples of vectors are Newtonian momentum, velocity, acceleration, and force,
electrical field, etc. These will be called 3vectors because they are 3dimentional and
their scalar products are defined by Eq. (28).
Definition of 4vectors in Minkovski space
In Minkovski space the coordinates are transformed according to Lorentz
transformations. In these lectures we will use lowcase letters for vectors in Euclidian
space. Capital letters will label 4vectors in Minkovski space (or, for brevity, simply 4
vectors). This convention will help avoid possible confusions.
A 4verctor
[ ]
1 2 3 4
, , , A A A A ≡ A
can be transformed to a primed reference frame
according to
1 1 4
2 2 3 3
4 4 1
;
u
A A A
c
A A A A
u
A A A
c
γ
γ
 
′ = −

\ ¹
′ ′ = =
 
′ = −

\ ¹
(32)
These transformation are identical to the derived above Lorentz transformations if we
set
1
A x = ,
2
A y = ,
3
A z = , and
4
A ct = .
Minkovski space allows also ordinary 3diminsional rotations of the first three
components of a 4vector but we will not consider it here for simplicity. When rotations
are excluded, the transformation matrix is then given by
[ ]
0 0
0 1 0 0
0 0 1 0
0 0
mn
u c
p
u c
γ γ
γ γ
−
=
−
(33)
Note: Sometimes (when convenient) we will use for 4vectors the notation
[ ]
1 2 3 4
, , , , , ,
x y z t
A A A A A A A A ≡ ≡
A
A quantity
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
19
2
2 2 2 2
t x y z
A A A A ≡ − − − A
(34)
is invariant under Lorentz transformation because it is simply the squared interval
considered previously. Therefore a scalar product of two 4vectors is defined as
t t x x y y z z
A B A B A B A B ⋅ ≡ − − − A B
(35)
because, as required, it is an invariant under Lorentz transformations.
′ ′ ⋅ = ⋅ A B A B
(36)
Some of the properties of such scalar products are identical to the properties of ordinary
scalar products in Euclidian space
( ) ( ) ( )
α α α ⋅ = ⋅ = ⋅ A B A B A B
(37)
( )
⋅ + = ⋅ + ⋅ A B C A B A C
(38)
⋅ = ⋅ A B B A
(39)
Example of a 4verctor is a displacement between two events
[ ]
12 12 12 12
, , , x y z c t ≡ ∆ ∆ ∆ ∆ ∆R
(40)
Other examples of 4vectors can be obtained using properties of the Lorentz
transformations and will be considered below and in the following lectures. But first we
introduce a new scalar in Minkowski space, a proper time.
Proper time (a frame independent scalar expressed in seconds)
A proper time
12
τ ∆ between two timelike events is defined by the relation
2
12
12
s
c
τ ∆ ≡ ± (41)
The sign in the above equation equals the sign of
12
t ∆ .
1. Obviously, the proper time is an invariant under Lorentz transformations. The
squared interval is not negative and therefore the proper time is a real number and has a
direct physical meaning.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
20
2. Proper time equals the time interval between two events if they take place at the same
location. Indeed, for two events at the same location
2 2 2
0 x y z ∆ + ∆ + ∆ = . Therefore
( )
2 2 2 2
2
2 2 12
12 2 2
s x y z
t t
c c
τ
∆ + ∆ + ∆
∆ ≡ ≡ ∆ − = ∆ . (42)
This simple result let us define the proper time also as a time interval shown by a clock
at rest (in this case, two readings of the clock are the two events taking place at the same
location, the location of the clock)
3. In different reference frame the time intervals between two events are related by
Lorentz transformation
( )
2
/ t t u x c γ ′ ∆ = ∆ − ∆ (43)
But if t ∆ is the time measured in a reference frame where the two events are located at
the same place (that is, t ∆ is the proper time between the two events) then t τ ∆ = ∆ ,
0 x ∆ = and therefore
t γ τ ′ ∆ = ∆ (44)
Note that τ ∆ is always shorter than t′ ∆ (since 1 γ ≥ ). This result sometimes is stated
saying that “a moving clock appears to run slower”. When two times (say 1 pm and 2
pm) are displayed by the moving clock, the time interval between these two events as
read from the clocks of the reference frame which is used to describe the moving clock
trajectory (apparently two clocks are required to do this because the clocks are not
moving in their own reference frame) will be longer.
4Velocity (a new example of a 4vector)
Because the proper time is an invariant, any 4vector between can be divided by the
proper time (which is a real number for timelike events) and the result will be a 4
vector (it will be transformed as prescribed by the Lorentz transformation). If the
displacement 4vector is divided by the proper time, the result is called 4velocity. The
first three components of the 4velocity can be related to the ordinary velocity υ which
we will call 3velocity
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
21
4Velocity of a particle
4Velocity of a particle is defined as
[ ] [ ]
, , , , , , ( ) , , ,
x y z
d d dt
x y z ct x y z ct c
d dt d
γ υ υ υ υ
τ τ
≡ = = ⋅
V
(45)
The factor γ equals the ratio dt dτ as derived in the Figure caption to Fig. 4. Note that
( ) ( )
1/ 2
2 2
1 / c γ υ υ
−
≡ − . The part , ,
x y z
υ υ υ
represents ordinary 3D velocity, that is, for
example, /
x
dx dt υ = etc.
Because dτ is a scalar and [ ] , , , d x y z ct is a 4vector, the ratio [ ] , , , d x y z ct dτ is a 4
vector too unlike [ ] , , , d x y z ct dt which is not a 4vector because dt is not a scalar (it
changes if we change the reference frame!).
The four components of the 4velocity obey (as any other 4vector) Lorentz
transformations when the referenceframe changes.
( )
( )
1 1 4
2 2
3 3
4 4 1
/ ;
;
;
/
V V u cV
V V
V V
V V u cV
γ
γ
′ = −
′ =
′ =
′ = −
(46)
Note that in these equations ( ) ( )
1/ 2
2 2
1 / u u c γ γ
−
= ≡ − . Equations (46) are identical to
Eq. (36) which should hold for any 4vector.
The squared 4velocity of a particle should be a scalar which does not change under
Lorentz transformations. Indeed
Figure 4. A particle is moving along its world line.
The proper time between two events  [ ] , x t and
[ ] , x dx t dt + + is (one spacedimension case)
2
2 2
2
2 2 2
1 1
dx
dx dt
d dt dt dt
c c c
υ
τ
 

\ ¹
= − = − = −
This also holds in three dimensions.
2
2 2
2
2 2 2
1 1
dr
dr dt
d dt dt dt
c c c
υ
τ
 

\ ¹
= − = − = − ,
where
2 2 2 2
dr dx dy dz = + +
x
t
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
22
2 2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
4 1 2 3 2 2
1 /
x y z
c
V V V V c
c
υ υ υ
υ
− − −
≡ − − − = =
−
V
(47)
Note. If two or more particles are present, each of them will have a 4velocity. One can
add these 4vectors and obtain another 4vector. For example, for two particles, a and b
a b Σ
≡ + V V V
. However, the square of this new 4vector
Σ
V
is not equal to
2
c .
( )
2
2 2 2 2
2 2 2
a b a a b b a b
c
Σ
= + = + ⋅ + = + ⋅ V V V V V V V V V
. The last term depends on the
speed of one particle relative to the other (that is the speed of particle a in a reference
frame where particle b is at rest). If the relative speed is zero, one gets
2 2
4c
Σ
= V
(to see
this immediately consider a RF where both particles are at rest).
The relation between the 4velocity and the 3velocity can be obtained from Eq. (45).
For example, for the first three coordinates of the 4velocity one gets
[ ] ( )[ ]
1 2 3 1 2 3
, , , , V V V γ υ υ υ υ = and for the fourth component ( )
4
V c γ υ = . Using these
relations, the Lorentz transformations (46) read
( ) ( ) ( )
( )
1 1 1
2 2
3 3
1
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ;
( ) ( ) ;
( ) ( ) ;
( ) ( ) ( ) /
u
u c u u
c
c u c u c
γ υ υ γ γ υ υ γ υ γ γ υ υ
γ υ υ γ υ υ
γ υ υ γ υ υ
γ υ γ γ υ υ
 
′ ′ ⋅ = − = ⋅ −

\ ¹
′ ′ ⋅ = ⋅
′ ′ ⋅ = ⋅
′ = ⋅ −
(48)
We can solve the first 3 equations for the coordinates of υ′ to get transformations for
components of 3velocity
( )
1 1
3 2
2 3
( ) ( )
( )
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
;
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
u
u
u u
u
γ γ υ
υ υ
γ υ
υ υ γ γ υ γ υ γ
υ υ
γ υ γ υ γ υ γ
′ = ⋅ −
′
′ ′ = ⋅ = ⋅
′ ′
(49)
A useful equality
2
1
( ) ( ) 1
( ) 1 /
u
u c
γ γ υ
γ υ υ
=
′ −
(50)
can be obtained from the transformation of
4
V . The finial result for the relativistic
transformation of 3velocity reads
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
23
1
1 2
1
3 2
2 3 2 2
1 1
1 /
1 1
;
1 / ( ) 1 / ( )
u
u c
u c u u c u
υ
υ
υ
υ υ
υ υ
υ γ υ γ
−
′ =
−
′ ′ = ⋅ = ⋅
− −
(51)
Note. Transformation of the 3velocity can be obtained directly from the Lorentz
transformations. The result, of course is the same as in Eq. (51). For example,
( ) ( ) dx u dx udt γ ′ = −
( )
u
dt u dt dx
c
γ
 
′ = −

\ ¹
We divide the top equation by the bottom one to get
( )( )
( )
1 1
x
x
dx
u
u dx udt u dx dx udt
dt
u u dx u u dt
dt dx u dt dx
c c dt c c
γ υ
υ γ
−
− ′ − −
= = = =
′  
− − − −

\ ¹
Quotient rule
This rule helps identifying (based on physical arguments) some of the quantities as
being 4vectors.
Theorem. If for any 4vector A
in Minkovski space
4 4 1 1 2 2 3 3
A Y AY A Y AY − − − (52)
is invariant (independent on the choice of the coordinate system), then [ ]
1 2 3 4
, , , Y Y Y Y ≡ Y
is a 4vector.
Proof:
When the coordinates are transformed,
m
A is replaced by
4
1
mn n
n
p A
=
∑
and
m
Y is replaced
by
m
Y′ (we do not know yet how
m
Y and
m
Y′ are related). Because
4 4 1 1 2 2 3 3
A Y AY A Y AY − − − is an invariant, the following equality
4 4 4 4
1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4
1 1 1 1
1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4
n n n n n n n n
n n n n
p A Y p A Y p A Y p A Y
AY A Y AY A Y
= = = =
′ ′ ′ ′ − − − + =
= − − − +
∑ ∑ ∑ ∑
, (53)
where matrix [ ]
mn
p is defined in Eq. (33) holds for any choice of A. Therefore the
system of equations
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
24
11 1 21 2 31 3 41 4 1
12 1 22 2 32 3 42 4 2
13 1 23 2 33 3 43 4 3
14 1 24 2 34 3 44 4 4
p Y p Y p Y p Y Y
p Y p Y p Y p Y Y
p Y p Y p Y p Y Y
p Y p Y p Y p Y Y
′ ′ ′ ′ − − − + = −
′ ′ ′ ′ − − − + = −
′ ′ ′ ′ − − − + = −
′ ′ ′ ′ − − − + =
(54)
must be satisfied (the coefficients in front of
1
A ,
2
A ,
3
A , and
4
A should be equal on the
right and left hand sides). Because ( ) det 0
mn
p ≠ , this system of linear equations for
{ }
n
Y′ has only one solution. But we know that if
4
1
n nm m
m
Y p Y
=
′ =
∑
that is if the { }
n
Y is
transformed as a 4vector, then the equations are satisfied. Since there is no other
solution, the transformation of Ynumbers to a new reference frame is given by
4
1
n nm m
m
Y p Y
=
′ =
∑
. Therefore { }
n
Y is a 4vector.
Now we can use the rule and physical arguments to generate a new 4vector.
4  Wave vector
Note that in some books θ π − is denoted by θ . To obtain the same equations as in such
books, cosθ and sinθ should be replaced by cosθ − and sinθ − in the following
expressions.
Propagation of a plain wave is described by the equation
( )
0
sin F F t ω = − ⋅ k r
, where
F is any quantity (pressure/displacement for sound waves or electric/magnetic fields
for radio waves and light etc) and r
is a radiusvector that is the displacement vector
from the origin of the coordinates to the point where the wave is observed. The phase
velocity of the wave is defined as / k υ ω = .
In an experiment, a recorder (filled box in the Figure) measures oscillating variable F
related to the propagating wave and displays the number of detected maxima on its
display. This experiment can be described using any inertial reference frame. The phase,
that is t ω − ⋅ k r
should have the same value in all these frames because its change
(divided by 2π tells how many maxima have been recorded by the recorder. This
x
y
θ
k
y
k
x
k
u
Figure 4. A plane wave propagates
in the direction determined by its
wavevector k
. The angle θ is the
polar angle of wave vector k
defined relative to xaxis as shown in
the figure to the left. With such a
definition of the angle one gets
cos
x
k k θ = and sin
y
k k θ = .
r
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
25
outcome of the experiment (counting the maxima) should not depend on the choice of
the reference frame. It is too “uncomfortable” to thinks that the displayed number of
maxima is different in a reference frame where the box is at rest and in a reference
frame moving relatively to the box. Therefore the following equality must hold
x x y y z z x x x y y z z
t k r k r k r t k r k r k r ω ω′ ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ − − − = − − − (55)
In other words
x x y y z z
ct k r k r k r
c
ω
− − − (56)
is Lorentz invariant. Therefore (see the quotient rule and note that , , ,
x y z
r r r ct
is a 4
vector)
,
c
ω
≡
K k
(57)
is a 4wave vector and must be transformed according to the following Lorentz
transformations. Thus, the invariance of the phase requires the following relation
between the values of k and ω expressed in different inertial reference frames.
( )
2
; ; ;
x x y y z z x
u
k k k k k k uk
c
γ ω ω γ ω
 
′ ′ ′ ′ = − = = = −

\ ¹
(58)
Note that 0 ⋅ = K K
for EM waves in vacuum.
Doppler Effect
The transformation of the fourth component of the 4wave vector reads
x
u
k
c c c
ω ω
γ
′
 
= −

\ ¹
(59)
and given that / k ω υ = and cos
x
k k θ = one gets transformation of the angular
frequency
1 cos
u
ω γ θ ω
υ
 
′ = −

\ ¹
(60)
This is a Doppler frequency shift which can be observed for any wave. For EM waves
in vacuum,
1 cos
u
c
ω γ θ ω
 
′ = −

\ ¹
. (61)
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
26
The Doppler shift is not necessarily a relativistic effect. The difference between the non
relativistic Doppler shift and relativistic one is the factor gamma in the above
expression. Because of this factor, the relativistic Doppler shift is also present if θ
equals 90 degree (called transverse Doppler shift). Transverse Doppler shift has been
observed experimentally for atoms in motion using precise spectroscopy. The transverse
Doppler shift is a relativistic effect and is a manifestation of the “slowed down” time in a
“moving” reference frame.
If the frequency is known in one reference frame, the Doppler shift can be used to
measure the velocity of any other reference frame (where the same wave is detectable)
relative to the first one. For example, for a simple case when cos 1 θ = − (this is when
the wave propagates in the direction of negative x, opposite to the velocity of the primed
reference frame which move in the direction of positive x) and the wave is an EM wave
in vacuum, one gets
1/ 2
1 /
1
1 /
u u c
c u c
ω γ ω ω
+    
′ = + =
 
−
\ ¹ \ ¹
(62)
The Doppler Effect can be used to determine the velocity u if the ratio of two
frequencies is known because Eq. (62) can be solved for u.
Aberration effect
The change in the direction of the wave vector is call aberration effect. Because the
direction of the wavevector is determined by the value of the polar angle θ , aberration
effect can be described in terms of this angle.
For any wave (this treatment is valid for any wave not only light),
2 2
sin sin
cos cos
y y
x x
k k k k
u u
k k k k k
c c
θ θ
θ γ ω γ θ υ
′ ′ ′ ≡ = =
   
′ ′ ′ ≡ = − = −
 
\ ¹ \ ¹
.
Dividing the upper equations by the lower equations, one gets the direction of the wave
vector in the primed reference frame.
2 2
sin sin
tan
cos cos
y
x
k
k
u u k
k k
c c
θ θ
θ
υ υ
γ θ γ θ
′
′ = = =
′    
− −
 
\ ¹ \ ¹
(63)
Other functions of the primed angle are easy to derive.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
27
sin
sin sin
sin
1 cos
y
k
u k
ω
θ
ω θ θ
υ
θ
ω
ω
γ θ
υ υ
′
′ = = = =
′
′ ′  
−

\ ¹
(64)
2
2
cos
cos
cos
1 cos
x
u
u
k c
c
u
k
ω
υ
γ θ υ
θ
υ
θ
ω
θ
υ υ
 
−
− 
′
\ ¹
′ = = =
′
′
−
(65)
In Eqs. (65, 64) previously derived / ω ω′ is used (see Eq. (60)).
This is a general result applicable to any kind of wave.
Useful relations for EM waves in vacuum
For EM waves in vacuum c υ =
( )
sin
tan
cos / u c
θ
θ
γ θ
′ =
−
(66)
sin
sin
1 cos
u
c
θ
θ
γ θ
′ =
 
−

\ ¹
(67)
cos
cos
1 cos
u
c
u
c
θ
θ
θ
−
′ =
−
(68)
1 /
tan tan
2 1 / 2
u c
u c
θ θ ′ +
=
−
(69)
To derive the last one, you need the identity
2 2 2
2sin cos 2sin cos
sin
2 2 2 2
tan
1 cos 2
1 cos sin 2cos
2 2 2
θ θ θ θ
θ θ
θ θ θ
θ
= = =
+
+ −
(70)
The details of the derivation are below
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
28
( )
2
2
2
2
sin
1 cos
sin sin
tan 1
2 1 cos
cos 1 cos cos
1
1 cos
sin 1 / sin 1 /
1 tan
1 / 1 cos 1 / 2
1 1 cos
u
u c
u u u
c
c c c
u
c
u u c u c
u c u c u c
c
θ
γ θ
θ θ θ
θ
θ θ θ
θ
θ θ θ
θ
θ
 
−

′ ′
\ ¹
= = = − =
′ +
− − + −
+
−
+ +
= − = =
− + −  
− +

\ ¹
Note. The definition of the angels is some times confusing. If in doubts, write down
transformations for the components of the 4wavevector and then get the angles from
the change of the 3wavevector direction.
Phase velocity transformation
Of course, there is also relation between the phase velocities of the same wave in two
reference frames. The magnitude of the phase velocity equals k ω . This transformation
is easier to get if you recall that ⋅ K K
is an invariant. Therefore
2 2 2 2
c c
ω ω ω ω
υ υ
′ ′
       
− = −
   
′
\ ¹ \ ¹ \ ¹ \ ¹
(71)
where we have used the equality
2 2 2
/ k ω υ = . We substitute into the above equation the
expression for the frequency transformation
2 2
2 2
1 cos 1 cos
u u
c c
γ θ ω γ θ ω
ω ω υ υ
υ υ
       
− −
   
   
\ ¹ \ ¹
 
− = −
 
′
  \ ¹ \ ¹
 
\ ¹ \ ¹
(72)
( )
( )( )
( )
2
2 2
2 2 2 2 2
2 2
1 1 /
1 /
1 1
cos
1 cos
c
u c
c u c
c
u u
υ υ
υ
υ θ
θ
υ
 
 
− −



− −
\ ¹
 
\ ¹
= + = +

′
\ ¹ −  
−

\ ¹
and solve it for the phase velocity in the primed reference frame υ′
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
29
( )
( ) ( )
2 2 2
2
2 2 2 2
4 2 2
2
cos
cos
1 2 cos sin
cos 1
u c
u
u u u u
u c
c c c c
υ θ
υ θ
υ
υ υ
θ θ
υ θ υ
−
−
′ = = =
 
+ − −
− + − −

\ ¹
2
2 2 2
2
2 4 2
cos
1 cos sin
u
u u u
c c c
υ θ
υ υ
θ θ
−
=
 
 
− + −
 
\ ¹
\ ¹
(73)
For example, if cos 1 θ = ∓ and therefore sin 0 θ = then
( )
2
2
2 1 /
1 /
u u
u c
u c
υ υ
υ
υ
υ
± +
′ = =
±
±
For EM waves in vacuum Eq. (72) reduces to
( )
( )
2
2 2 2
cos
cos
c u c
c
c u c c
γ θ
υ
γ θ
−
′ = =
− − +
(74)
This is not a surprising result since the whole theory is based on the invariance of the
speed of light.
Note that there are three velocities related to the wave propagation problem in different
reference frames.
Final remarks
There are three velocities related to the 4wavevector problem.
1. Speed of light. This is a fundamental physical constant conventionally labelled by c .
2. Relative velocity of reference frames labelled by u
3. Phase velocity of a wave. This is denoted as υ . The relation between υ , ω , and k is
/ k ω υ = . The 4wavevector is
[ ]
1 2 3 4
, , , , , , /
x y z
K K K K k k k c ω ≡ ≡
K for all waves.
For electromagnetic waves in vacuum / k c ω = and therefore , , ,
x y z
k k k k ≡
K .
For all waves (not only EM waves)
1 1 4
2 2 3 3
4 4 1
;
u
K K K
c
K K K K
u
K K K
c
γ
γ
¦  
′ = −
 ¦
\ ¹
¦
¦
′ ′ = =
´
¦
 
′ ¦
= −

¦
\ ¹ ¹
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
30
To use the equations in this Lecture where angles are involved, you have to determine
correctly angle θ . This is the polar angle of the 3D wave vector in the corresponding
reference frame. The wave vector points in the direction where the wave propagates not
in the direction to the source of the wave. Aberration effect, Doppler etc have nothing
to do with the source! First, you draw the x and x′ axes. x and x′ point in the same
direction. The direction of these axes should be parallel to the direction of u
. In the
above equations u is positive if u
points in the direction of increasing x . If u
points in
the direction opposite to the direction of x , the value of u is negative. Then you
identify the angler as shown below and use your favourite equation.
My favourite for EM waves in vacuum:
1 /
tan tan
2 1 / 2
u c
u c
θ θ ′ +
=
−
For the Doppler effect
2 2
1 cos
1 /
u
u c
θ
υ
ω ω
−
′ =
−
(all waves).
θ
x
k
x
k
θ
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
31
Lecture 3
Concepts:
4momentum. Conservation of 4momentum. Relativistic
3momentum. Total energy. 4acceleration. 4force.
Transformation of magnetic and electrical fields.
4momentum
By the analogy with Newtonian mechanics, 4momentum of a particle is defined as a
product of its mass and its 4velocity
[ ]
2 2
, , , ,
1 /
x y z
m
m m mc c
c
γ υ υ υ
υ
≡ = =
−
P V υ
(75)
In these lectures m is a frame independent intrinsic property of a particle, sometimes
also called “the rest mass of a particle”. Note that in some textbooks the rest mass is
labelled as
0
m and
0
m m γ ≡ is called “relativistic mass”. The concept of "relativistic
mass" creates more problems than it can possibly solve and therefore should be avoided.
For example, the gravity created by amoving particle is not simply enhanced by the
factor gamma. It has a more complicated dependence on the velocity and the effect of
gravity is considered in General Relativity.
Similar to its non relativistic counterpart, the 4momentum is the same before and after
collision of any number of particles. You can think of momentum conservation as being
a basic law of physics or a mathematical axiom of the theory. But remember that the
validity of an axiom in physics is subject to experimental testing. Momentum
conservation law agrees with all the experiments done so far. Mathematically, the 4
momentum conservation reads
before collision after collision
n n
n n
=
∑ ∑
P P
, (76)
where
n
P
is the 4momentum of nth particle. Because this relation is stated in terms of
4vectors, the equality is automatically Lorentz invariant. That is, once it is valid in one
inertial reference frame it is also valid in all inertial reference frames.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
32
The 4momentum is not conserved when you change the reference frame (it will be
transformed according to Lorentz transformation). Therefore
before collision before collision
n n
n n
′ ≠
∑ ∑
P P
,
where the prime indicates that the 4momenta are referred to a different inertial
reference frame.
The equality (76) can be written separately for the first three components of the 4
momentum and for its fourth component
before collision after collision
n n n n n n
m m γ γ =
∑ ∑
υ υ
before collision after collision
n n n n
m m γ γ =
∑ ∑
From Newton’s physics we know two quantities which are conserved in any collision
(one is a vector and the second is a scalar). These quantities are the 3momentum and
the total energy (note that the kinetic energy is conserved only in elastic collisions).
Relativistic 3momentum and total energy
We identify the vector m γ υ
as a relativistic 3momentum
( ) rel
m γ ≡ p υ
.
It is a vector in Euclidian space. You can add relativistic 3momentum to another 3
momentum, you can rotate it 3D space, calculated scalar product as
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
rel rel rel rel rel rel rel rel
x x y y z z
p p p p p p ⋅ ≡ + + p p . So defined
( ) ( )
1 2
rel rel
⋅ p p is not invariant
under Lorentz transformations. However, in reference frames which are not moving
relative to each other but only rotated relative to each other,
( ) ( )
1 2
rel rel
⋅ p p as defined
above is an invariant (that is a scalar product if only rotation and translation of a
reference frame is allowed). If the reference frame is replaced by a new reference frame
which is moving relative the first one, the Lorentz transformations are applied to the 4
momentum where the 3momentum represents only the first three coordinates.
The forth coordinate of the 4momentum is mc γ . If we multiply it by c , the result can
be identified as the relativistic total energy.
2
mc E γ ≡ (77)
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
33
There are several reasons for identifying
2
mc γ as the total energy. (1) This value has
the units of energy (mass multiplied by the square of velocity), (2) it is conserved in all
collisions if calculated for the total of all involved particles, (3) it looks nice, and (4) it
gives correct value for the kinetic energy in a non relativistic limit as shown below.
First, we note that when the 3velocity of the particle is zero, its total energy is
2
mc . If
the particle is moving, its energy is increased due to kinetic energy. Therefore, the
kinetic energy KE a free moving particle is given by
2 2 2
2 2 2
2
2
2
1
1 ....
2 2
1
mc m
KE mc mc mc
c
c
υ υ
υ
 
= − ≈ + + − ≈

\ ¹
−
(78)
where a Taylor’s expansion assuming small value of
2 2
c υ is used. The kinetic energy
has limited application in relativity because the splitting of the total energy between the
potential and the kinetic energy is not always obvious.
With the new definitions in place, the 4momentum can now be also written as
( )
( )
, /
rel
E c ≡ P p
(79)
The square of the 4momentum reads
2 2 2 ( )2 2 2
/
rel
E c p m c ≡ − = P
(80)
Note 1:
( )2 ( )2 ( )2 ( )2 rel rel rel rel
x y z
p p p p ≡ + + is the squared length of the relativistic 3vector
of the momentum.
Note 2: For photons
( ) rel
E p c = and therefore
2
0 = P
. The fact that 4momentum
squared is zero for photons should not confuse. Of course, the 3momentum and the
total energy are never zero for a photon.
( ) rel
E p c = can be derived from Maxwell
equations and also from the fact that for photons 0 m = . If m were not zero for photons,
their energies would be infinitely large because photons move with the speed of light in
vacuum and the corresponding factor
( )
1/ 2
2 2
1 / c γ υ
−
≡ − is infinitely large.
4acceleration
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
34
Like in a non relativistic case, the 4acceleration is defined as a time derivative of the 4
velocity. But to ensure that the obtained quantity is a 4vector, we should take the
derivative over the proper time.
( )
, , , , , ,
x y z x y z
d d d
c c
d d dt
γ υ υ υ γ γ υ υ υ
τ τ
≡ = =
V
A
(81)
When calculating the derivative, we should not forget that γ will also depend on time if
the speed changes.
( ) ( )
2
3
1/ 2 3/ 2 2
2 2 2 2
1 /
1 / 1 /
d d c d d
dt dt dt c dt
c c
γ υ υ υ υ
γ
υ υ
= = =
− −
(82)
Useful and equivalent expressions for 4acceleration are
[ ] [ ]
2 4 2 4
2
, , 0 ,
d d d d
c
dt dt dt c dt c
γ υ υ υ υ
γ γ γ γ γ
= + = +
A υ υ υ a
(83)
A 3vector a
in the above expressions is a 3vector of acceleration d dt ≡ a υ
.
Examples and Some Interesting Results
1. If the length of the 3velocity vector (that is the speed) is time independent, then
2
, 0 γ =
A a
2. At the moment when the instantaneous
3velocity is zero,
[ ]
, 0 = A a
.
Consider a comoving frame where the
instantaneous velocity of a particle is zero. Let the
direction of the 3acceleration in the comoving frame be in the direction of the xaxis.
Hence in the instantaneous acceleration in the comoving frame is
[ ]
, 0, 0, 0
x
α ′ ′ = A
. In a
reference frame where the comoving frame moves with the velocity of the particle, the
4acceleration is given by Eq. (83). On the other hand this acceleration can be obtained
by Lorentz transformation of ′ A
which results in , 0, 0,
x x
c
υ
γ α α
′ ′ =
A
. Therefore
comparing the forth component in this expression and in Eq. (83) one gets
( )
3/ 2
2 2
1 /
x
d
c
dt
υ
α υ ′ = − (84)
[ ] , 0, 0
x
α ′ ′ = α
x′
y′
x
y
υ
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
35
This differential equation describes how the velocity changes if a particle accelerated
with a constant acceleration in its comoving frame. Integration of this equation leads to
( )
1/ 2
2 2
1 /
x
c t υ υ α
−
′ − = , which is straightforward to solve for υ and get
( ) ( )
1/ 2 1/ 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
1
x x
x x
t t
c
c t t c
α α
υ
α α
′ ′
= =
′ ′ + +
(85)
The velocity increases in time but never reaches the speed of light in vacuum. When the
velocity is small relative to the speed of light we recover the not relativistic relation
x
t υ α′ = .
3. The scalar product of 4acceleration and 4velocity of the same particle is always
zero. To prove this note that in the reference frame where the instantaneous 3velocity is
zero, the 4velocity is , c
0
. In such a reference frame, the 4acceleration is
[ ]
, 0 = A a
.
4force
In line with classical mechanics, the relativistic Newton’s law for 4vectors reads
d
dτ
= P F
(86)
The law can also be written in terms of 4velocity and 4acceleration
( )
d d dm d dm
m m m
d d d d d τ τ τ τ τ
= = + = + =
V
P V V V A F
(87)
Note, in non relativistic counterpart of the second Newton’s law the derivative of mass
over time is also present if the mass is not a constant. Therefore there is nothing really
new in this equation.
To solve dynamical problems (for example, to calculate the trajectory of a particle) one
needs an expression of the force in Eq. (87). Since gravity is excluded from SR (you
need general relativity to deal with gravity), electromagnetic force is the only
fundamental force which can be easily included in the theory (see section about the
electromagnetic fields below).
3force and 4force
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
36
The relation between 3force and 4force follows from
( )
( )
1
, ,
rel
d dt d E dE
d d dt c c dt
γ υ
τ τ
= = =
F P p f
, (88)
where the 3force is defined as a time derivative of the relativistic 3momentum
( ) rel
d
dt
≡ f p
(89)
Note: The relativistic 3momentum
( ) rel
m γ ≡ p υ
represents the first 3 coordinates of the
4momentumP
, that is
( )
, ,
rel
x y z
P P P =
p
. However, the 3force is a time derivative of
the relativistic 3momentum and therefore , ,
x y z
F F F γ =
f
because the first three
components of the 4force are the derivative of the 3momentum over the proper time.
Useful equalities describing properties of the 4force are derived below.
2 2
dm dm
c m c
d d τ τ
⋅ = + ⋅ = F V A V
(90)
On the other hand
2 2
dE
dt
γ γ ⋅ = − ⋅ F V f υ
(91)
Therefore
2 2 2
dm dE
c
d dt
γ γ
τ
= − ⋅ f υ
(92)
and if 0 dm dτ = then
dE
dt
= ⋅ f υ
(93)
Relativistic transformation of the 3force
The transformations of three components of the 3force are similar to the transformation
derived for the 3velocity. This is not surprising because there is a clear analogy
between the expressions for the 4force and for the 4velocity.
υ
u
X′
Y′
X
Y
f
Figure 5. In a not primed
reference frame, a particle moves
with 3velocity υ
and experiences
3force f
. The primed reference
frame moves with velocity u
as
accepted in the standard
configuration.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
37
( )
1
,
dE
c dt
γ υ
=
F f
(94)
( )[ ]
, c γ υ = V υ
(95)
For example, using transformation of F
as a 4vector one can derive
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
1 1
1 u dE
f u f
c c dt
γ υ γ γ υ γ υ
′
′ = −
and therefore
( ) ( )
( )
1 1
1
u
u dE
f f
c c dt
γ γ υ
γ υ
′
= −
′
This can be further simplified by using Eq. (50). The complete set of transformations for
3force reads
( )( )
( )( )
1 1 2 2
1
2 2
2
1
3 3
2
1
1
1 /
1
;
1 /
1
1 /
u dE
f f
u c c dt
f f
u u c
f f
u u c
υ
γ υ
γ υ
 
′ = −

−
\ ¹
′ =
−
′ =
−
(96)
The fourth coordinate of the 4force gives the transformation for power.
1 2
1
1
1 /
dE dE
uf
dt u c dt υ
′
 
= −

′ −
\ ¹
(97)
A rest mass preserving force is such a force that 0 dm dτ = . In this case dE dt = ⋅ f υ
and therefore
1 1 2 2
1
1
1 /
u
f f
u c c υ
 
⋅
′ = −

−
\ ¹
f υ
(98)
An example of such a force is Lorentz 3force acting on a moving charged particle.
Transformation of magnetic and electrical fields
The Lorentz 3force acting on a moving charged particle reads
q q = × + f υ b e , (99)
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
38
where b is a 3vector of magnetic
field and e is a 3vector of
electrical field, υ is the 3velocity
of the particle, and q is the charge
of the particle.
Note: The coefficients in this
equation depend on the units used.
For example, in the Gaussian units
the Lorentz 3force is
G G G G
q c q = × + f υ b e . The relation
between the Gaussian units and the
international system of units for the
electrical and magnetic fields and
electrical charge is given below for
your reference
( ) ( )
( )
1/2 1/ 2
0 0
1/ 2
2
0 0 0
4 4
4 ; 1/
SI G SI G
SI G
c
µ π πε
ρ πε ρ ε µ
−
= =
= =
b b e e
The electrical charge q is proportional to the number of elementary particles (for
example, electrons for a negative charge) and is invariant for all reference frames. For
briefness we set 1 q = . Because
( ) ( ) ( )
2 3 3 2 3 1 1 3 1 2 2 1
b b b b b b υ υ υ υ υ υ × = − + − + − υ b i j k , (100)
where i , j , and k are corresponding orthogonal unit vectors.
In a way, the Lorentz 3force defines the electrical and magnetic fields. The
transformation of b and e fields can be derived using transformations already derived
for 3force and 3velocity.
We begin by writing down the components of the Lorentz force in the non primed and
primed reference frames which read
1 2 3 3 2 1
f b b e υ υ = − +
1 2 3 3 2 1
f b b e υ υ ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ = − +
2 3 1 1 3 2
f b b e υ υ = − +
2 3 1 1 3 2
f b b e υ υ ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ = − + (101)
b
υ
x
i
y
i
z
i
× υ b
Fig. Magneticfield part of the Lorentz force.
The magnetic field vector in xzplane. The vector
product is perpendicular to the xzplane.
( ) ( ) ( )
x y z
x y z
x y z
x y z z y y x z z x z x y y x
b b b
b b b b b b
υ υ υ
υ υ υ υ υ υ
× = ≡
≡ − − − + −
i i i
υ b
i i i
, , and
x y z
i i i are unit vectors in x, y, and z
directions respectively.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
39
3 1 2 2 1 3
f b b e υ υ = − +
3 1 2 2 1 3
f b b e υ υ ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ = − +
respectively. Then, we use the velocity transformations
( ) ( )
3 1 2
1 2 3
2
2 2
1
1 1
; ;
1 /
( ) 1 / ( ) 1 /
u
u c
u u c u u c
υ υ υ
υ υ υ
υ
γ υ γ υ
−
′ ′ ′ = = =
−
− −
(102)
to express the primed force in terms of non primed velocity. For example, for the first
component of the primed force we get
( ) ( )
3 2
1 3 2 1
2 2
1 1
( ) 1 / ( ) 1 /
f b b e
u u c u u c
υ υ
γ υ γ υ
′ ′ ′ ′ = − +
− −
(103)
On the other hand, we can use relativistic transformation of a 3force instead. This
transformation states that
2
1
1
2
1
/
1 /
f u c
f
u c υ
− ⋅
′ =
−
f υ
. (104)
One can now substitute the expressions for f (see Eqs. (101)) in the not primed
reference frame, and get
( )
2
2 3 3 2 1 1 1 2 2 3 3
1
2
1
2 2 2
2 3 3 2 1 1 1 2 2 3 3
2
1
2 2
3 2 2 3
2 3 1
2 2
1 1
/
1 /
/ / /
1 /
/ /
1 / 1 /
b b e u e e e c
f
u c
b b e e u c e u c e u c
u c
b e u c b e u c
e
u c u c
υ υ υ υ υ
υ
υ υ υ υ υ
υ
υ υ
υ υ
− + − + +
′ = =
−
− + − − −
= =
−
− +
= − +
− −
(105)
The two expressions for
1
f ′ (Eqs. 103 and 105) must be equivalent no matter what the
values of
1
υ ,
2
υ , and
3
υ are. Therefore the factors in front of
2
υ and
3
υ must be equal.
This gives expressions for
3
b′ and
2
b′ .
( )
2
3 3 2
/ b b e u c γ ′ = − (106)
( )
2
2 2 3
/ b b e u c γ ′ = + (107)
The terms independent of the velocity υ must also be equal. It follows that
1 1
e e ′ = (108)
Expressions for
2
e′ ,
3
e′ , and
1
b′ can be obtained when the expressions for
2
f ′ and
3
f ′ are
derived in two different ways (as it was done above for
1
f ′ ) are compared. All the
results are summarized below.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
40
( )
( )
1 1
2 2 3
3 3 2
1 1
2 2 3
2
3 3 2
2
e e
e e ub
e e ub
b b
u
b b e
c
u
b b e
c
γ
γ
γ
γ
′ =
′ = −
′ = +
′ =
 
′ = +

\ ¹
 
′ = −

\ ¹
(109)
Concluding remarks
Maxwell equations
0 0 0
div 0; curl
t
µ ε µ
∂
= = − +
∂
e
b b j
(110)
0
div ; curl
t
ρ ε
∂
= = −
∂
b
e e
(111)
stay valid if the Lorentz transformations of spacetime are used, the e and b fields are
transformed as derived above, and the current density j and the charge density ρ are
changed as components of a 4current density
[ ]
0 0
, , c c ρ ρ γ ρ
≡ = ≡
J V υ j
(112)
This can be verified directly by substitution of the appropriate transformation derived in
this course.
One can also introduce an electromagnetic field tensor (a generalization of a 4vector)
and write the Maxwell equations in a 4tensor form but we will not develop this
technique in these lectures. Those who are interested may read one of the recommended
books.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
41
Some General Hints for Solving Problems
Colliding or “breaking into parts particles” are usually one type of problems where
Special Relativity is easy to use. What you need to do is to write down 4 equalities. One
for the total energy and three for each component of the relativistic 3momentum vector
(thus you cover all four components of the 4momentum vector). In each of these
equalities you should have energy/momentum of all particles added together before
collision (say on the left hand side) and total energy/momentum of the involved
particles after collision on the other side of the equality. The expressions for the total
energy and the relativistic 3momentum are
2
2 2
1 /
mc
E
c υ
=
−
,
( )
2 2
1 /
rel x
x
m
p
c
υ
υ
=
−
,
( )
2 2
1 /
y rel
y
m
p
c
υ
υ
=
−
,
( )
2 2
1 /
rel z
z
m
p
c
υ
υ
=
−
It is useful to use symmetry and choose the direction of the x, y, and z so that some of
the momenta are obviously zeros. This will reduce the number of the equations. In
exceptional situation a trick can help to answer the question. Note that m in these
expressions is the mass of a particle (in some other texts, a term rest mass is used
instead of simply mass, a term used in these notes). If the particle is made of parts, you
can not add mass of these parts together to get the mass of the composite particle. This
is because the primary particles can interact with each other or can move relative to
each other. Anything of the above will change the mass. Therefore, unless the particles
are elementary (like electrons, e.g.) you can not consider the masses to be the same
before and after collision and the problem generally speaking, can not be solved if some
extra information is not provided. This can be, for example, information that particles
stick together after collision. In this case the velocities of the parts after collision are
equal and the number of unknowns in the equations is dramatically reduced.
The electrical/magnetic fields may need conversion from one reference frame to
another. If it is easier to solve the problem in some reference frame, then you can get the
solution for a different frame by applying appropriate transformations
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
42
( )
( )
1 1
2 2 3
3 3 2
1 1
2 2 3
2
3 3 2
2
e e
e e ub
e e ub
b b
u
b b e
c
u
b b e
c
γ
γ
γ
γ
′ =
′ = −
′ = +
′ =
 
′ = +

\ ¹
 
′ = −

\ ¹
But watch the sign of u! In these equations u is positive if the primed RF moves in the
direction of increasing positive values of x of the not primed RF.
Some problems require solving differential equations describing the dynamics of the
system.
2 2
1 /
d m
dt
c υ
=
−
υ
f
Note that each of the components of the 3velocity and the speed (the magnitude of the
velocity) may be time dependent. Of course you need an expression for force f
to write
down the actual equation. Since gravity is excluded from SR, a typical example of a
force is the Lorentz force q q = × + f υ b e .
The Twin Paradox
Everyone who teaches or study Special Relativity should an opinion about the Twin
Paradox.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
GLOSSARY Reference Frame is a space coordinate system and a set of clocks located at every point of space. All these clocks are stationary in their reference frame (that is they have permanent, time independent coordinates) and are synchronized with each other. The time of an event is measured by the clock located at the same place as that of the event. Other physical quantities (electrical field, magnetic field, charge density, etc) are always explicitly or implicitly related to a reference frame when one specifies a point in the coordinate space and the time reading (by the clock nearest to at that point) when a particular quantity was determined. For example, electrical fields are frequently described as a threedimensional vectorfunction of four variables E ( x, y, z , t ) . Inertial Reference Frame is a frame in which Newton’s first law is valid. Strictly speaking, rather abstract theoretical concepts. In practice, we expect that an object which is far from all other objects is a good approximation for an origin of an inertial reference frame. If an object moves with acceleration in a certain reference frame, we search for force acting on that object and if the force can not be identified despite all the efforts, we assume that the reference frame is not inertial. The canter of mass of our nearest star is a very good approximation to the origin of an inertial reference frame. Even a point stationary relative to the surface of our planet will do reasonably well in many cases. Observer is a fiction person introduced in textbooks to confuse the students. We will use observer only if we are interested in actual visual impression which a real person would receive if he/she were present at a certain location and at a certain time. Rest Frame is a concept used to confuse those who are not yet confused. There is no such thing as an absolute rest frame. But there is always a frame in which a selected object is at rest. Such a frame is called comoving frame (with the object selected). Event has a more restricted meaning in physics than in conventional English. An event occurs at a point in space (does not have any size) and at one instant of time. It can be described by one set of coordinates (x, y, z, t) in a specified frame. Remember that time is measured by the clock at the location of an event. Simultaneous events are events which occur at the same time in a specified reference frame. Squared Interval is defined between any two events as 2 2 2 2 2 2 ∆s12 ≡ c ( t2 − t1 ) − ( x2 − x1 ) − ( y2 − y1 ) − ( z2 − z1 ) . Note that the squared interval can be negative. Proper Time is a confusing name for the interval divided by the speed of light in
2 2 vacuum, τ ≡ ∆s12 c (note that this definition makes sense only if ∆s12 ≥ 0 ). The proper time coincides with time between two events measured in a certain reference frame if the two events have the same space coordinates.
Length Contraction and Time Dilation are somewhat misleading concepts widely used in textbooks. They simply represent two special cases of Lorentz transformations. The distance between two events measured at the same time in some reference frame is 2
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
shorter (by a factor of γ ) than the distance between these events in a reference frame where they are not simultaneous (do not have the same time). The time between two events at the same place is longer (by a factor of γ ) than the time between these events in a reference frame where they are not at the same place (do not have the same space coordinates). The concepts are misleading because they lead away from the complete Lorentz transformations where time and position are interrelated (this relation is the essence of Special Relativity).
Relative velocity is the velocity of one object relative to other. That is, velocity of object A relative to object B is the velocity of object A in a reference frame comoving with object B (see Rest Frame). Thoughtexperiment is not an experiment but a mental exercise designed to illustrate
the theoretical concepts for educational purposes. At most, such “experiments” can demonstrate that the theory is not self contradictive but can not prove that the theory is correct.
3
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
Lecture 1
Concepts: Events. Reference frame. Relativity postulates. Transformation of coordinates. Galilean transformations. Deriving Lorentz transformations. Invariance of the squared interval under Lorentz transformations. Absolute past and absolute future.
Questions for consideration
How to measure a length of a moving rod?
Events and a reference frame
Physical events are described by four numbers which refer to a certain reference frame. A reference frame is made of an infinite number of synchronized clocks covering the whole space. Each clock has definitive and fixed coordinates (see Fig. 1). For every event, three numbers ( x, y, z ) specify the space coordinates of the clock nearest to the event (in theory the clock location coincides with the location of the event) and the fourth number tells the time t shown by that clock. We will say that this event is described by its four coordinated in reference frame O. The event coordinates are
( x′, y′, z′ )
and t ′ respectively in reference frame O′ . The second reference frame is not
fundamentally different from the first frame but these two frames can move relative to each other. Four coordinates of an event will be written in several ways such as
[ x, y, z, t ] , [ x1 , x2 , x3 , x4 ] ,
convenience.
or
[ x1 , x2 , x3 , t ]
depending on the circumstances and
Because the frameforming clocks are distributed in space, some attention should be paid to their synchronization. Only clocks located at the same location can be compared directly. One way to synchronize two clocks is to move an exact replica of one clock to the location of the second clock. This motion should be done with a very slow speed (in theory a limit of zero speed should be taken which would require infinitely long time to cover a finite distance) to avoid acceleration. Alternatively, a signal with a known propagation velocity υ can be sent from one clock to the other when, for example, the first clock shows zero time. When the pulse arrives to the second clock, the clock can be set to the time t = L / υ , where L is the distance between the clocks. There is nothing special about using a pulse of light for this purpose, except for light being able to propagate in vacuum and that its speed in vacuum is known to high accuracy (actually
4
An example of such a law is Newton’s First Law – Every object will stay in uniform motion unless an external force is applied. all laws of mechanics (later extended to laws of physics) are identical in all reference frames moving with a constant velocity relative to each other. Newton’s First
5
. But what is the reference frame where the law holds? It holds in inertial reference frames. The angle theta determines the gradient of the curve as shown in Fig. When an event happens. 2. A body moving with a constant velocity in reference frame O will move with a constant velocity in reference frame O′ if the O′ moves with a
constant velocity relative to O. Infinite spacegrid of identical clocks is set up in every reference frame. Absolute uniform motion (motion with a constant velocity) cannot be detected (Galileo. this can be represented by a point on the xt plane. If at time t1 the location of an object is x1 . In fact.
Relativity Principles
1.
y
1 1 9 6 9 6 9 3 6 9 1 9 3
1 3 1 6 1 1 9 3 3 6 1 9 9 6 3 6 9 6 9 1 3 9
1 3
y′
1 9 1 9 3 6 9 6 6 9 1 3 9 3
1 3 6 1 1 9 9
u
1 3 3 6 1 9 3 6 6 1 6
1 9 6 3 1 9 6 3 3 3
6
1
1 9
3 3
z
6 3
6
x
O′
9
1
3 3
z′
6 9
x′
O
6
6
Figure 1.
A concept useful for understanding the relativity is a world line shown in Fig. O′ may have different orientation (directions of the three axes) relative to O and a different location of its origin. The speed of the particle equals cot θ . its space coordinates and time are read from the coordinates of the nearest clock and the time shown by that clock. These clocks are at rest and synchronized in the corresponding reference frame. In other words.
An object with a constant velocity will have a straight world line.
t
t1
θ
x1
x
Figure 2. 2. etc).Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
this speed is used as an etalon in the modern metrology and therefore its value is known exactly). Newton. Motion of an object is then represented by a curve which is called a world line.
Any straight world line remains a straight world line in any inertial reference frame because if the velocity is constant in one inertial reference frame it is also constant (time independent) in any other inertial reference frame. The only transformation of coordinates which transforms a straight line into a straight line is a linear transformation. The sign of this number is positive if the velocity vector points in the direction from negative x to positive x and negative if it points in the −∞ xdirection. “Standard” pair of reference frames
Apparently. the velocity fully described just only one number u . From the above formulated principle it follows that Newton’s First Law also holds in a reference frame which moves uniformly relative to a reference frame which is already proved to be inertial. there must be a relation between the sets of 4coordinates in different reference frames. The historically first experiment verifying that the speed of light is independent of the
reference frame was performed by Michelson and Morley. Since the direction of the velocity
u is parallel to the xaxis. These two frames will be called a standard pair of the reference frames or simply standard reference frames for briefness (see Fig. 1). Design of accelerators and the analysis of experimental results obtained with particles colliding at high speeds rely on relativistic Newton's laws which are derived later in the course. the following conditions are assumed valid. The constancy of the speed of light also follows from Maxwell equations and the assumption that these equations are valid in all inertial reference frames.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
Law postulates the existence of such a frame. The speed of light in vacuum is the same in all reference frames (Einstein).
These conditions are not limitations of the theory which can be easily generalized to arbitrary inertial reference frames.
Transformation of coordinates. 2) The corresponding axes of the two reference frames are parallel to each other. the two clocks located at the origins of the two reference frames show zero time.
6
. Modern particle accelerators are able to accelerate particles to the velocities extremely close to the speed of light in vacuum. We assume that there is a universal transformation describing how to calculate the primed coordinates of an event given its not primed coordinates and the relative velocity of the two frames. 1) The primed reference frame moves in the xdirection with velocity u .
2. 3) When the locations of the two origins O and O′ coincide in space.
Conventionally for simplicity. They observed that the speed of light relative to Earth is the same despite the orbital motion of the Earth and/or different directions of light propagation.
That is t ′′ = t .Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
If the above conditions are not satisfied.
Lorentz transformations
For a pair of standards reference frames the transformation of y and z coordinates is very simple y′ = y and z ′ = z . The time in reference frame O′′′ can be set with an arbitrary shift ∆t so that generally t ′′′ = t ′ + ∆t . In classical Newtonian mechanics. the relation between two events are given by
Galilean transformations
7
. where ℜ stands for y′′ y
a rotation matrix. in a twodimensional case shown in the figure below the relation between the coordinates is derived as follows
φ
ϕ
x
x′′ = r cos (φ − ϕ ) = r cos φ cos ϕ + r sin φ sin ϕ = x cos ϕ + y sin ϕ
y′′ = r sin (φ − ϕ ) = r sin φ cos ϕ − r cos φ sin ϕ = − x sin ϕ + y cos ϕ sin ϕ x cos ϕ y
x′′ cos ϕ This can be written as = y′′ − sin ϕ
The time in reference frame O′′ is synchronized with time in O . It is not so for the xcoordinate and time. For the rest of the course we will deal with the standard configuration of the reference frames. A vectormatrix notation
y′′
y x′′
r
x′′ ˆ x ˆ can be used to write = ℜ . That is the clock at origin of O′′′ shows zero when space location of the origin coincides with the origin of O′′ . The space coordinates of O and O′′ (and similar for O′ and O′′′ ) are related through the ordinary Euclidian geometry based expressions. Obviously. For example. O′′ and O′′′ are rotated in space relative to O and O′ respectively in such a way that 1) the velocity u is parallel to x′′ and x′′′ . 2) y′′ y′′′ 3) z ′′ z ′′′ . O′′ and O′′′ satisfy the conditions 1) and 2). one can use reference frames O′′ and O′′′ which are not moving relative to O and O′ respectively but which satisfy the above conditions. But ∆t can be chosen to satisfy the convention 3) above. First.
the velocity of O′ relative to O . therefore by substitution
x′ = γ ( x − ut ) and t ′ = α x + β t
(i) (ii) world line x′ = ct ′ should transform into world line x = ct world line x′ = −ct ′ should transform into world line x = −ct . The world line of the origin of the primed reference frame is x′ ≡ 0 in the primed reference frame and satisfies the equation x = ut in the not primed reference frame.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
t ′ = t x′ = x − ut
It is easy to see that these transformations violate second Einstein’s postulate: The velocity of anything (including light) depends on the reference frame according to Galilean velocity addition formula υ′ = υ − u . The speed of light must be the same in all reference frames. 1) and we are seeking a transformation in the form
t ′ = α x + β t x′ = γ ( x − ut )
(3)
which is obtained from Eq (1) by substitution δ = −γ u . When these two equalities are substituted into the equation x′ = γ x + δ t . These equations should
satisfy the Einstein’s axioms.
Substation of the expressions for x′ and t ′ into x′ = ct ′ and x′ = −ct ′ gives
γ ( x − ut ) = c (α x + β t ) γ ( x − ut ) = −c (α x + β t )
respectively. Thus. one gets
0 = γ ut + δ t (2)
Therefore we must have δ = −γ u . only three parameters are left in the linear
relation (Eq. By solving each of these equations for x one gets
(4)
8
. A general form for a linear transformation of x and t from O to O′ is
t ′ = α x + β t x′ = γ x + δ t
(1)
All four coefficients may be functions of velocity u .
We begin by solving the upper equation for x
x=
1
γ
x′ + ut
(10)
next. − β c + uγ t γ +αc
(5)
The required linear dependencies x = ct and x = −ct emerge only if
β c + uγ γ −αc = c − β c + uγ = −c γ + αc
or in an equivalent form
(6)
β c + uγ = cγ − α c 2 2 β c − uγ = cγ + α c
where by solving for α and β we obtain
(7)
β = γ u α = − c 2 γ
Thus. the transformation from not primed to primed coordinates must be
(8)
x′ = γ ( x − ut ) u . t c c
solve it for t and then substitute the solution into Equation (10)
(11)
9
. substitute this solution into the lower equation
u2 u ′ = γ t 1 − 2 − 2 x′ . t ′ = γ t − c 2 x
(9)
where the only not yet determined parameter is γ .Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
x = x =
β c + uγ t γ −αc . This transformation can be inverted (to obtain transformation from primed to not primed reference frame) by solving Equations (9) for x and t .
x = γ ( u′ )( x′ − u′t ′ ) u′ t = γ ( u′ ) t ′ − c 2 x′
The agreement between Eq. Lorentz transformation should not change if x is replaced by − x and u is replaced by −u . Remember that the laws of physics (and the Lorentz transformations is one of such laws) should be identical in all reference frames. the velocity of O relative to O′ . the transformation relating 4coordinates of the same event when described in two reference frames reads
10
. Therefore γ ( u ) must be equal to γ ( −u ) . Therefore the transformations from x′ and t ′ to x and t also can be obtained from Eq. Because there is no physical different between left and right.
A) B) −x
u
x
−u
Thus. (13) and Eq. (9) by replacing u with u ′ .Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
1 ′ u ′ t + 2x t = 2 c γ 1 − u 2 c 2 2 ut ′ 1 x = 1 x′ + u / c x′ + = ( x′ + ut ′ ) 2 2 γ u u u2 γ 1 − 2 γ 1 − 2 γ 1 − 2 c c c
(12)
Now we exploit the symmetry between the primed and not primed reference frames. (12) appears only if 1 = γ ( u′) u2 γ ( u ) 1 − 2 c u = −γ ( u ′ ) u ′ u2 γ ( u ) 1 − 2 c Therefore
(13)
(14)
u = −u ′ u2 γ ( u ) γ ( −u ) = 1 − 2 c Drawing A) can be obtained from B) by flipping left and right. We use the fact that there is no difference between the primed and not primed reference frame accept for the value of the relative velocity.
where G ( t ′ ) is a function of time in the primed reference frame.
where g ( t ) and f ( t ) are arbitrary functions of time (of course there is a limit for
dg df velocity which a physical particle can have and therefore + ≤ c 2 dt dt
should hold) we can transform these trajectories to a primed reference frame. Because Lorentz transformations from not primed frame to primed frame (standard configuration) are
2
2
x = γ ( x′ + ut ′ ) y = y′ u t = γ t ′ + 2 x′ c
we can substitute these relations into trajectory equations
γ ( x′ + ut ′ ) = g γ t ′ +
u y′ = f γ t ′ + 2 x′ c
u x′ c2
It may be possible to solve the top equation for x′ and get x′ = G ( t ′ ) .Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
−1/ 2
u2 x′ = 1 − 2 c u2 t ′ = 1 − 2 c
( x − ut )
(15)
−1/ 2
u t − 2 c
x
and is called Lorentz transformation. This function can be substituted into the equation for y′ . y′ = f γ t ′ + 2 G ( t ′ ) c
the trajectory of the same particle in the primed reference frame.
Transformation of a particle’s trajectory to a different RF
If a trajectory is given by equations
x = g (t )
y = f (t )
.
Properties of Lorentz transformations
11
. Thus one gets
x′ = G ( t ′ ) u .
Absolute past and absolute future
2 The value of s12 as defined above can have any sign (do not be confused by the 2 superscript 2). it is called timelike. This sign is very important because it
12
. Interval. It is a good idea to look at the limit c → ∞ in any relativistic problem to make sure that the solution converges to the non relativistic Newtonian mechanics. Note 1: Distance between events is invariant under rotation of the space coordinates but is not invariant under Lorentz transformation. Let us calculate in different reference frames the value of
2 s12 ≡ c 2 ( t2 − t1 ) − ( x2 − x1 ) ≡ c 2 ( ∆t ) − ( ∆x ) . the Lorentz transformations are equivalent to the Galilean transformations. in 3D space the squared interval is defined by
2 2 2 2 2 s12 ≡ c 2 ∆t12 − ∆x12 − ∆y12 − ∆z12
(17)
It is also true in 3D that the squared interval does not change (it is an invariant) under Lorentz transformations. 2 2 2 2
In a primed reference frame the value of
u 2 s′ ≡ c ∆t ′ − ∆x′ = c γ ∆t − 2 ∆x − γ 2 ( ∆x − u ∆t ) = c 2 u γ 2c 2 ∆t 2 + 2γ 2u∆t ∆x + γ 2 2 ∆x 2 − γ 2 ∆x 2 − 2γ 2u∆t ∆x − γ 2u 2 ∆t 2 = c 2 u 2 γ 2 ( c 2 − u 2 ) ∆t 2 − γ 2 1 − 2 ∆x 2 = c 2 ∆t 2 − ∆x 2 ≡ s12 c
2 12 2 2 2 2 2
2
(16)
2 The quantity s12 is the same in all reference frames for any two events. This
number is called a squared interval
Generally. 2. Non relativistic limit. If a squared interval is lager than zero. it is called spacelike. Because s12 is an invariant (does not depend on the reference frame). the 2 sign of s12 is the same in all reference frames. If the speed of light is formally set to infinity. If a squared interval is smaller than zero.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
1. where the subscripts refer to two events.
The latest inequality holds for any physically allowed reference frame and hence as follows from Eqs. Such two events are said to have timelike separation or simply are called timelike events. When s12 > 0 . the equality can be achieved only if c > ∆x ∆t → c 2 ∆t 2 − ∆x 2 > 0 .
13
. the chronological order of the two events is absolute. (18) and (19) the sign of ∆t ′ coincides with the sign of
∆t . Note that when c is infinitely large (that is when Newton’s mechanics is valid) this inequality always holds and therefore all events are timelike. ′ ′ In other words.
2 1. it is the same in
all reference frames. x2 − x1 ≡ ∆x′ = γ ( ∆x − u∆t ) is zero if ∆x = u ∆t . then t2 < t1′ .
The locations of two timelike events can always be made identical by choosing an
′ ′ appropriate reference frame. That is when the squared interval is larger than zero. if t2 > t1 . that is if
u = ∆x ∆t
(20)
Because u < c for a physically allowed reference frame. then t2 > t1′ and if t2 < t1 .Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
tells a lot about possible relations between the two events for which the squared interval is calculated. then c 2 ∆t 2 > ∆x 2 → ∆t > ∆x c and therefore
u c2
∆t >
∆x
(19)
as long as u < c . The Lorentz transformation for time separation between two events is
u ′ t2 − t1′ ≡ ∆t ′ = γ ∆t − 2 ∆x c
(18)
If the squared interval is larger than zero.
Prove.
Actually. Such two events are said to have spacelike separation or simply called spacelike events. You have to make sense of time being slower in the primed frame than in the not primed frame (because the primed is moving relative to the not primed) and at the same time being slower in the not primed framed because it is moving relative to the primed.2 = 0 . Consider a pair of events 1 and 2 such that their location is the same in the primed frame. ∆t
Final remarks for Lecture 1
In this Lecture Notes we do not talk about time dilation and length contraction. But the theory is built on logic. That is
′ ∆x1.2 + 2 ∆x1. the central topics of many elementary text books. For example. Is this the instance when impossibility of understanding the theory is revealed? I do not think so! The SR theory interconnects time and x. the chronological order of the two events depends on the reference
frame. the best advice I can give you is to avoid such terminology. Time does not do it! If taken seriously and/or without an explanation.y. the required speed is physically allowed (u ≡
∆x < c ). c This can be achieved if the primed reference frame is moving with velocity
u = c2 ∆t ∆x
(21)
(22)
And if c 2 ∆t 2 − ∆x 2 < 0 → c ∆t ∆x < 1 .2 = γ ∆t1. two spacelike events can be made simultaneous because by choosing an appropriate primed reference frame we can get
u ∆t ′ = γ ∆t − 2 ∆x = 0 . such a statement is logically absurd. Then u ′ ′ ′ ∆t1. These events can not be considered as being a physical cause/consequence of each other because such relation should not depend on the reference frame (logically the cause can not follow the consequence). A typical statement which can be seen here and there “ time runs slower in a mowing reference frame” is quite misleading.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
2 2.z coordinated in a single –dimensional space. When s12 < 0 . In other (in a bit simpler) words time in the primed frame (for example) is expressed as a linear combination of x coordinate and time in the not primed frame.2 c
14
.2 = γ∆t1.
4 = 0 ). for some events the time interval is shorter in the primed frame and for some other the time interval is shorter in not primed frame.4 = γ ∆t3.
15
. Is this a surprise? No!
y′ y x′ A B
x
Look at an example of ordinary linear transformation (rotation) of two space frames. For point A.2 > ∆t1. Very few people have ever complained or A B have called it a paradox. take two events (3 and 4) such that they are at the same location in the not
′ primed frame ( ∆x3. Then ′ γ∆t3. So indeed. However. Just consider two events which happen at the same time in the primed frame and then in another pair of events that are at the same time in the primed frame. Same problem can be seen with the length contraction.2 .Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
′ Because γ > 1 we conclude that ∆t1. the time interval is smaller in
the primed frame and one may say that the time runs slower in the primed frame. x A > x′ but for point B xB < x′ .4 .4 − 2 ∆x3.4 = ∆t3. c
u
The γ is on the wrong side! Thus.
aN ] therefore det ( pmn ) ≠ 0 must N
hold to ensure that the linear equations (27) can be solved for an . a′ ] and [ a1 . a2 .. 4velocity.. each Ndimensional vector is identified by its n components. Transformation of the phase velocity. Vectors in Euclidian space. Given a coordinate system (base vectors).. vectors are geometrical objects which can be added to each other and can be multiplied by a number. These numbers can be transformed to a different coordinate system (a
different set of base vectors) according to the transformation defined by N relations for each m
′ am = ∑ pmn an . Proper time..
Generally. Doppler effect. These relations hold after any allowed transformation of coordinates. a2 ] . Quotient rule. There must be one to one
′ ′ correspondence between [ a1 . 4Wavevector. Addition of two vectors and multiplication of a vector by a number reads in coordinate representation as
16
. For example. a2 . For example.
n =1 N
(23)
where N 2 numbers pmn are the same for all vectors (but depend on the choice of the coordinate systems involved in the transformation).
A geometrical concept of a vector is useful because any relations between vectors are frame invariant... An example of two vectors a and b which are geometrically added to produce vector c .. a + b = c holds after any 3D rotation or after translation in space.
Vectors
a
b
c
Figure 3. a 2dimentional vector
a → [ a1 .. Scalar product in Minkovski space. Aberration effect.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
Lecture 2
Concepts: Vectors.
The particular quantity defined by Eq. a2 + b2 ...or dotproduct
Because
a + b = ( a1 + b1 ) + ( a2 + b2 ) + . α cN ]
(25)
Vectors in Euclidian space
Under certain transformations of the coordinate system such as rotation.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
c = a + b → c ≡ [ a1 + b1 . (26) is called a length and is a not negative number. + aN bN
This scalar product has obvious properties: c ⋅a = a ⋅c
(28)
(29) (30) (31)
(a + b ) ⋅ c = a ⋅ c + b ⋅ c
a ⋅ αb = αa ⋅b
( )
17
. + aN 2 is an invariant. the following quantity
a ≡ a12 + a2 2 + . Such a quantity is said to be invariant.. + aN bN )
2 2
(27)
and a . An invariant
which can be defined for any two vectors is called a scalar product. b a + b are invariant under rotations. In Euclidian space the scalar product is therefore defined as
a ⋅ b ≡ a1b1 + a2b2 + . and their combinations.... + ( aN + bN )
2 2 2
2
= a + b + 2 ( a1b1 + a2b2 + .... + a N bN should be also invariant under these transformations.. translations and their combinations...
Scalar. translation.. α c2 . In a space where the axioms and postulates of Euclidean geometry apply.. a12 + a2 2 + . aN + bN ]
(24)
and
α c ≡ [α c1 ...
2
2
2
a1b1 + a2b2 + ..... + a N 2
2
(26)
does not change.. The space is called an Euclidian vector space.
velocity. A4 ] can be transformed to a primed reference frame according to
u A1′ = γ A1 − A4 c ′ ′ A2 = A2 . At ≡ [ A1 . (28). and force.
2
Not
every
transformation
preserves
length
as
defined
by
a ≡ a12 + a12 + . A2 . Az . This convention will help avoid possible confusions. A4 ]
A quantity
18
. These will be called 3vectors because they are 3dimentional and their scalar products are defined by Eq. and A4 = ct . Ay .
Definition of 4vectors in Minkovski space
In Minkovski space the coordinates are transformed according to Lorentz transformations. the transformation matrix is then given by γ 0 [ pmn ] = 0 − γ u c 0 0 − γ u c 1 0 0 0 1 0 γ 0 0
(33)
Note: Sometimes (when convenient) we will use for 4vectors the notation
A ≡ Ax . Capital letters will label 4vectors in Minkovski space (or. A3 . etc. In these lectures we will use lowcase letters for vectors in Euclidian space. Examples of vectors are Newtonian momentum. simply 4vectors). for brevity.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
Note that the definition of the scalar product depends on the transformation of the coordinates. + aN 2 . A3 = A3 u ′ A4 = γ A4 − A1 c
(32)
These transformation are identical to the derived above Lorentz transformations if we set A1 = x . acceleration. A2 . A3 .. A2 = y . When rotations are excluded. A 4verctor A ≡ [ A1 .. electrical field. A3 = z . Minkovski space allows also ordinary 3diminsional rotations of the first three components of a 4vector but we will not consider it here for simplicity.
c∆t12 ]
(40)
Other examples of 4vectors can be obtained using properties of the Lorentz transformations and will be considered below and in the following lectures. it is an invariant under Lorentz transformations.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
A ≡ At 2 − Ax 2 − Ay 2 − Az 2
2
(34)
is invariant under Lorentz transformation because it is simply the squared interval considered previously.
Proper time (a frame independent scalar expressed in seconds)
A proper time ∆τ 12 between two timelike events is defined by the relation
2 s12
∆τ 12 ≡ ±
c
(41)
The sign in the above equation equals the sign of ∆t12
. Therefore a scalar product of two 4vectors is defined as
A ⋅ B ≡ At Bt − Ax Bx − Ay By − Az Bz
(35)
because. a proper time. The squared interval is not negative and therefore the proper time is a real number and has a direct physical meaning.
1. Obviously. as required. the proper time is an invariant under Lorentz transformations. But first we introduce a new scalar in Minkowski space. ∆z12 . ∆y12 .
A′ ⋅ B ′ = A ⋅ B
(36)
Some of the properties of such scalar products are identical to the properties of ordinary scalar products in Euclidian space
A ⋅ αB = α A ⋅B = α A ⋅B A ⋅ B + C = A ⋅B + A ⋅C A⋅B = B⋅A
( ) ( )
(
)
(37) (38) (39)
(
)
Example of a 4verctor is a displacement between two events
∆R ≡ [ ∆x12 .
19
.
the result is called 4velocity. This result sometimes is stated saying that “a moving clock appears to run slower”. c2 c2
(42)
This simple result let us define the proper time also as a time interval shown by a clock at rest (in this case. ∆x = 0 and therefore ∆t ′ = γ∆τ (44)
Note that ∆τ is always shorter than ∆t ′ (since γ ≥ 1 ). In different reference frame the time intervals between two events are related by Lorentz transformation ∆t ′ = γ ( ∆t − u ∆x / c 2 ) (43)
But if ∆t is the time measured in a reference frame where the two events are located at the same place (that is.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
2. the time interval between these two events as read from the clocks of the reference frame which is used to describe the moving clock trajectory (apparently two clocks are required to do this because the clocks are not moving in their own reference frame) will be longer. any 4vector between can be divided by the proper time (which is a real number for timelike events) and the result will be a 4vector (it will be transformed as prescribed by the Lorentz transformation). Proper time equals the time interval between two events if they take place at the same location. The first three components of the 4velocity can be related to the ordinary velocity υ which we will call 3velocity
20
.
4Velocity (a new example of a 4vector)
Because the proper time is an invariant. for two events at the same location ∆x 2 + ∆y 2 + ∆z 2 = 0 . Therefore
( ∆τ 12 )
2
≡
2 s12 ∆x 2 + ∆y 2 + ∆z 2 ≡ ∆t 2 − = ∆t 2 . If the displacement 4vector is divided by the proper time. Indeed. ∆t is the proper time between the two events) then ∆t = ∆τ . two readings of the clock are the two events taking place at the same location. When two times (say 1 pm and 2 pm) are displayed by the moving clock. the location of the clock) 3.
Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
t
Figure 4.υ z represents ordinary 3D velocity. Note that
γ (υ ) ≡ (1 − υ 2 / c 2 )
−1/ 2
. for
example. (46)
V4′ = γ (V4 − u / cV1 ) Note that in these equations γ = γ ( u ) ≡ (1 − u 2 / c 2 ) Eq. The squared 4velocity of a particle should be a scalar which does not change under Lorentz transformations. Indeed
−1/ 2
.[ x. z . A particle is moving along its world line. The proper time between two events . Because dτ is a scalar and d [ x.
V1′ = γ (V1 − u / cV4 ) . c dτ dt dτ
(45)
The factor γ equals the ratio dt dτ as derived in the Figure caption to Fig. t + dt ] is (one spacedimension case)
2
x
dx υ2 dx 2 dt dτ = dt 2 − 2 = dt 1 − 2 = dt 1 − 2 c c c This also holds in three dimensions. y.υ y . y. υ x = dx / dt etc. ct ] = [ x. y. (36) which should hold for any 4vector. 4. ct ] is a 4vector. The part υ x . V3′ = V3 . z . dr dr υ2 dt dτ = dt 2 − 2 = dt 1 − 2 = dt 1 − 2 . z . y. z. that is. ct ] dτ is a 4vector too unlike d [ x. V2′ = V2 . ct ] dt which is not a 4vector because dt is not a scalar (it changes if we change the reference frame!). y. c c c
2 2
where
dr 2 = dx 2 + dy 2 + dz 2
4Velocity of a particle
4Velocity of a particle is defined as
V≡
d d dt [ x. ct ] = γ (υ ) ⋅ υ x . z . the ratio d [ x. Equations (46) are identical to
21
. t ] and
[ x + dx. The four components of the 4velocity obey (as any other 4vector) Lorentz transformations when the referenceframe changes.υ z .υ y .
υ3 ]
u c
and for the fourth component V4 = γ (υ ) c . the Lorentz transformations (46) read
γ (υ ′) ⋅υ1′ = γ ( u ) γ (υ )υ1 − γ (υ ) c = γ (u )γ (υ ) ⋅ (υ1 − u ) . If the relative speed is zero. (45). The relation between the 4velocity and the 3velocity can be obtained from Eq. The last term depends on the
speed of one particle relative to the other (that is the speed of particle a in a reference frame where particle b is at rest). υ3 = ⋅ γ (υ ′) γ (υ ) γ (υ ′) γ (u ) υ1′ =
A useful equality
(49)
γ (u )γ (υ ) 1 = γ (υ ′) 1 − uυ1 / c 2
(50)
can be obtained from the transformation of V4 . for the first three coordinates of the 4velocity one gets
[V1 . Using these
relations.
′ γ (υ ′) ⋅υ2 = γ (υ ) ⋅υ2 . each of them will have a 4velocity. the square of this new 4vector VΣ is not equal to c 2 . a and b
VΣ ≡ Va + Vb . VΣ 2 = Va + Vb
However. The finial result for the relativistic transformation of 3velocity reads
22
. If two or more particles are present. One can add these 4vectors and obtain another 4vector. for two particles.
(48)
γ (υ ′)c = γ (u )γ (υ ) ⋅ ( c − u / cυ1 )
We can solve the first 3 equations for the coordinates of υ′ to get transformations for components of 3velocity
γ (u )γ (υ ) ⋅ (υ1 − u ) γ (υ ′) γ (u )γ (υ ) υ2 γ (υ )γ (u ) υ3 ′ ′ υ2 = ⋅ .V3 ] = γ (υ ) [υ1 . For example.
(
)
2
= Va 2 + 2Va ⋅ Vb + Vb 2 = 2c 2 + 2Va ⋅ Vb . one gets VΣ 2 = 4c 2 (to see this immediately consider a RF where both particles are at rest).Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
2 c 2 − υ x2 − υ y − υ z2
V ≡ V −V −V −V =
2 2 4 2 1 2 2 2 3
1−υ / c
2
2
= c2
(47)
Note.V2 . ′ γ (υ ′) ⋅υ3 = γ (υ ) ⋅υ3 . For example.υ2 .
Because
A4Y4 − AY1 − A2Y2 − A3Y3 is an invariant. the following equality 1 −∑ p1n AnY1′ − ∑ p2 n AnY2′ − ∑ p3n AnY3′ + ∑ p4 n AnY4′ =
n =1 n =1 n =1 n =1
4
4
4
4
. Am is replaced by by
∑p
n =1
4
mn
An and Ym is replaced
′ Ym
(we do not know yet how
Ym
and
′ Ym
are related).
(53)
= − AY1 − A2Y2 − A3Y3 + A4Y4 1
where matrix
[ pmn ]
is defined in Eq. For example. (51). Y2 . υ3 = ⋅ 3 2 2 1 − uυ1 / c γ (u ) 1 − uυ1 / c γ (u )
(51)
Note. Transformation of the 3velocity can be obtained directly from the Lorentz transformations. Y3 . (33) holds for any choice of A. of course is the same as in Eq. Y4 ] is a 4vector. Therefore the
system of equations
23
.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
υ1′ =
υ1 − u 1 − uυ1 / c 2
1
υ υ 1 ′ ′ υ2 = ⋅ 2 .
Theorem.
dx′ = γ ( u )( dx − udt )
u dt ′ = γ ( u ) dt − dx c
We divide the top equation by the bottom one to get
dx −u υ −u dx′ dx − udt dt = = = = x u u dx u u dt ′ 1 − υx γ ( u ) dt − dx dt − dx 1 − c c dt c c
γ ( u )( dx − udt )
Quotient rule
This rule helps identifying (based on physical arguments) some of the quantities as being 4vectors. The result. then Y ≡ [Y1 . Proof: When the coordinates are transformed. If for any 4vector A in Minkovski space
A4Y4 − AY1 − A2Y2 − A3Y3 1
(52)
is invariant (independent on the choice of the coordinate system).
where
(
)
F is any quantity (pressure/displacement for sound waves or electric/magnetic fields for radio waves and light etc) and r is a radiusvector that is the displacement vector from the origin of the coordinates to the point where the wave is observed. But we know that if Yn′ = ∑ pnmYm that is if the {Yn } is
m =1
4
transformed as a 4vector.
m =1
4
Now we can use the rule and physical arguments to generate a new 4vector. This 24
. the transformation of Ynumbers to a new reference frame is given by
Yn′ = ∑ pnmYm . that is ωt − k ⋅ r should have the same value in all these frames because its change (divided by 2π tells how many maxima have been recorded by the recorder. A3 . The phase velocity of the wave is defined as υ = ω / k . 4 . cos θ and sin θ should be replaced by − cos θ and − sin θ in the following
expressions. Since there is no other solution.
Note that in some books θ − π is denoted by θ . A plane wave propagates in the direction determined by its wavevector k . a recorder (filled box in the Figure) measures oscillating variable F related to the propagating wave and displays the number of detected maxima on its display. Because det ( pmn ) ≠ 0 .Wave vector
y
k
kx
θ
ky
u
r
x
Figure 4.
In an experiment. Therefore {Yn } is a 4vector. then the equations are satisfied.
Propagation of a plain wave is described by the equation F = F0 sin ωt − k ⋅ r . and A4 should be equal on the right and left hand sides). A2 . To obtain the same equations as in such books. The phase.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
− p11Y1′ − p21Y2′ − p31Y3′ + p41Y4′ = −Y1 − p12Y1′ − p22Y2′ − p32Y3′ + p42Y4′ = −Y2 − p13Y1′ − p23Y2′ − p33Y3′ + p43Y4′ = −Y3 − p14Y1′ − p24Y2′ − p34Y3′ + p44Y4′ = Y4
must be satisfied (the coefficients in front of A1 . With such a definition of the angle one gets k x = k cos θ and k y = k sin θ . This experiment can be described using any inertial reference frame. The angle θ is the polar angle of wave vector k defined relative to xaxis as shown in the figure to the left. this system of linear equations for (54)
{Yn′}
has only one solution.
u ′ ′ k x = γ k x − 2 ω . Therefore the following equality must hold
′ ′ ′ ωt − k x rx − k y ry − k z rz = ω x t ′ − k x rx′ − k y ry′ − k z′ rz′
In other words
(55)
ω
c
ct − k x rx − k y ry − k z rz
(56)
is Lorentz invariant. For EM waves in vacuum. c
25
u
(61)
. k y = k y . c
(57)
is a 4wave vector and must be transformed according to the following Lorentz transformations. ω ′ = γ (ω − uk x ) c
Note that K ⋅ K = 0 for EM waves in vacuum. ry . ct is a 4 vector)
ω K ≡ k . the invariance of the phase requires the following relation between the values of k and ω expressed in different inertial reference frames. rz . It is too “uncomfortable” to thinks that the displayed number of maxima is different in a reference frame where the box is at rest and in a reference frame moving relatively to the box.
Doppler Effect The transformation of the fourth component of the 4wave vector reads
(58)
ω′
ω u = γ − kx c c c
(59) transformation of the angular
and given that k = ω / υ and k x = k cos θ one gets frequency
ω ′ = γ 1 − cos θ ω υ
u
(60)
This is a Doppler frequency shift which can be observed for any wave. Therefore (see the quotient rule and note that rx . k z′ = k z .
ω ′ = γ 1 − cos θ ω . Thus.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
outcome of the experiment (counting the maxima) should not depend on the choice of the reference frame.
one gets
u 1+ u / c ω ′ = γ 1 + ω = ω c 1− u / c
1/ 2
(62)
The Doppler Effect can be used to determine the velocity u if the ratio of two frequencies is known because Eq. If the frequency is known in one reference frame. k ′ ≡ k ′ sin θ ′ = k y = k sin θ y
u u ′ k x ≡ k ′ cos θ ′ = γ k x − 2 ω = γ k cos θ − 2 kυ . for a simple case when cos θ = −1 (this is when the wave propagates in the direction of negative x.
Aberration effect
The change in the direction of the wave vector is call aberration effect. For example. the relativistic Doppler shift is also present if θ equals 90 degree (called transverse Doppler shift). tan θ ′ =
′ ky k sin θ sin θ = = ′ uυ uυ kx γ k cos θ − 2 k γ cos θ − 2 c c
(63)
Other functions of the primed angle are easy to derive. c c
Dividing the upper equations by the lower equations. aberration effect can be described in terms of this angle. For any wave (this treatment is valid for any wave not only light). The difference between the non relativistic Doppler shift and relativistic one is the factor gamma in the above expression. one gets the direction of the wave vector in the primed reference frame. opposite to the velocity of the primed reference frame which move in the direction of positive x) and the wave is an EM wave in vacuum. Because of this factor. (62) can be solved for u. Transverse Doppler shift has been observed experimentally for atoms in motion using precise spectroscopy. the Doppler shift can be used to measure the velocity of any other reference frame (where the same wave is detectable) relative to the first one.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
The Doppler shift is not necessarily a relativistic effect.
26
. The transverse Doppler shift is a relativistic effect and is a manifestation of the “slowed down” time in a “moving” reference frame. Because the direction of the wavevector is determined by the value of the polar angle θ .
This is a general result applicable to any kind of wave. (60)). (65. you need the identity 2sin cos 2sin cos sin θ 2 2 2 2 = tan θ = = θ 1 + cos θ 1 + cos 2 θ − sin 2 θ 2 2 cos 2 2 2 2 The details of the derivation are below
θ
θ
θ
θ
(70)
27
.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
k ′ υ sin θ ω sin θ sin θ y sin θ ′ = = = = ω′ k′ ω′ u γ 1 − cos θ υ υ
ω
(64)
ω u uυ cos θ − 2 υ cos θ − 2 ′ kx υ c c cos θ ′ = = = u ω′ k′ 1 − cos θ υ υ γ
In Eqs. 64) previously derived ω / ω ′ is used (see Eq.
Useful relations for EM waves in vacuum For EM waves in vacuum υ = c
(65)
tan θ ′ =
sin θ γ ( cos θ − u / c )
sin θ u γ 1 − cos θ c cos θ − u c
(66)
sin θ ′ =
(67)
cos θ ′ =
u 1 − cos θ c
(68)
tan
θ′
2
=
1+ u / c θ tan 1− u / c 2
(69)
To derive the last one.
Therefore ω ω ω′ ω′ − = − ′ c υ c υ
2 2 2 2
(71)
where we have used the equality k 2 = ω 2 / υ 2 . This transformation is easier to get if you recall that K ⋅ K is an invariant.
Phase velocity transformation
Of course. there is also relation between the phase velocities of the same wave in two reference frames.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
sin θ u γ 1 − cos θ 2 θ′ sin θ ′ sin θ c = 1− u tan = = = 2 u c 1 − u cos θ + cos θ − u 2 1 + cos θ ′ cos θ − c c c 1+ u 1 − cos θ c = 1− u2 sin θ 1 + u / c sin θ 1+ u / c θ = = tan 2 c u 1 − u / c 1 + cos θ 1− u / c 2 1 − (1 + cos θ ) c
Note. If in doubts. write down transformations for the components of the 4wavevector and then get the angles from the change of the 3wavevector direction. We substitute into the above equation the expression for the frequency transformation u u 2 2 γ 1 − υ cos θ ω γ 1 − υ cos θ ω ω ω − − = υ′ c υ c
2 2
(72)
c 2 2 2 − 1 (1 − u / c ) 2 υ ( c 2 − υ 2 )(1 − u 2 / c2 ) c = 1+ ′ = 1+ 2 2 υ u (υ − u cos θ ) 1 − cos θ υ and solve it for the phase velocity in the primed reference frame υ′
28
. The magnitude of the phase velocity equals ω k . The definition of the angels is some times confusing.
k . Note that there are three velocities related to the wave propagation problem in different reference frames.
u K1′ = γ K1 − c K 4 ′ ′ For all waves (not only EM waves) K 2 = K 2 . ω . if cos θ = ∓1 and therefore sin θ = 0 then
υ′ =
υ ±u
(1 ± υu / c )
2 2
=
υ +u 1 ± uυ / c 2
For EM waves in vacuum Eq. and k is k = ω / υ . k y .
Final remarks
There are three velocities related to the 4wavevector problem. This is denoted as υ . Phase velocity of a wave. K 2 . Speed of light. K 3 = K 3 K 4′ = γ K 4 − u K1 c
29
. k z . This is a fundamental physical constant conventionally labelled by c . The relation between υ .Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
υ′ =
(υ − u cos θ ) c (υ − u cos θ )
u + ( c 2 − υ 2 ) 1 − 2 c υ − u cos θ
2 2 2 2 2 2
=
υ − u cos θ
uυ uυ u2 1 + 4 − 2 2 cos θ − 2 sin 2 θ c c c
2 2
=
=
u 2 uυ u υ 1 − 2 cos θ + 4 − 2 sin θ c c c
(73)
For example. 1. The 4wavevector is K ≡ [ K1 . K 4 ] ≡ k x . ω / c for all waves. k y . For electromagnetic waves in vacuum k = ω / c and therefore K ≡ k x . Relative velocity of reference frames labelled by u 3. 2. k z . K 3 . (72) reduces to
υ′ =
γ ( c − u cos θ ) c γ 2 ( c − u cos θ ) − c 2 + c 2
2
=c
(74)
This is not a surprising result since the whole theory is based on the invariance of the speed of light.
The wave vector points in the direction where the wave propagates not in the direction to the source of the wave. you draw the x and x′ axes.
30
. This is the polar angle of the 3D wave vector in the corresponding reference frame. Doppler etc have nothing to do with the source! First. In the above equations u is positive if u points in the direction of increasing x . Then you identify the angler as shown below and use your favourite equation. The direction of these axes should be parallel to the direction of u . If u points in the direction opposite to the direction of x . the value of u is negative. Aberration effect.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
To use the equations in this Lecture where angles are involved. you have to determine correctly angle θ . x and x′ point in the same direction.
k
θ
k
x
θ
x
My favourite for EM waves in vacuum: tan
θ′
2
=
1+ u / c θ tan 1− u / c 2
u 1 − cos θ
For
the
Doppler
effect
ω′ =
υ
1 − u2 / c2
ω
(all
waves).
the gravity created by amoving particle is not simply enhanced by the factor gamma. 4force. Relativistic 3momentum. Momentum conservation law agrees with all the experiments done so far. For example. Note that in some textbooks the rest mass is labelled as m0 and m ≡ γ m0 is called “relativistic mass”.
4momentum
By the analogy with Newtonian mechanics. 4momentum of a particle is defined as a product of its mass and its 4velocity
P ≡ mV = γ [ mυ. sometimes also called “the rest mass of a particle”.
Similar to its non relativistic counterpart. That is. the 4momentum is the same before and after collision of any number of particles.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
Lecture 3
Concepts: 4momentum. the 4momentum conservation reads
= ∑ Pn . once it is valid in one inertial reference frame it is also valid in all inertial reference frames. Total energy. c
(75)
In these lectures m is a frame independent intrinsic property of a particle. But remember that the validity of an axiom in physics is subject to experimental testing. Mathematically. It has a more complicated dependence on the velocity and the effect of gravity is considered in General Relativity.υ z . Conservation of 4momentum. Because this relation is stated in terms of 4vectors.υ y . 4acceleration. mc ] =
m 1 − υ 2 / c2
υ x . the equality is automatically Lorentz invariant. You can think of momentum conservation as being a basic law of physics or a mathematical axiom of the theory. ∑ Pn n before collision n after collision
(76)
where Pn is the 4momentum of nth particle.
31
. Transformation of magnetic and electrical fields. The concept of "relativistic mass" creates more problems than it can possibly solve and therefore should be avoided.
However.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
The 4momentum is not conserved when you change the reference frame (it will be transformed according to Lorentz transformation). calculated scalar product as
( rel ( rel ( ( ( ( p1rel ) ⋅ p (2rel ) ≡ p1(x ) p2rel ) + p1(y ) p2rel ) + p1(zrel ) p2rel ) .
It is a vector in Euclidian space. If we multiply it by c . in reference frames which are not moving
( ( relative to each other but only rotated relative to each other.
γ mc 2 ≡ E
(77)
32
. If the reference frame is replaced by a new reference frame which is moving relative the first one. So defined p1rel ) ⋅ p 2rel ) is not invariant x y z
under Lorentz transformations. The forth coordinate of the 4momentum is γ mc . p1rel ) ⋅ p 2rel ) as defined
above is an invariant (that is a scalar product if only rotation and translation of a reference frame is allowed). you can rotate it 3D space. You can add relativistic 3momentum to another 3momentum. Therefore
′ . the Lorentz transformations are applied to the 4momentum where the 3momentum represents only the first three coordinates. ≠ ∑ Pn ∑ Pn n before collision n before collision
where the prime indicates that the 4momenta are referred to a different inertial reference frame.
Relativistic 3momentum and total energy
We identify the vector γ mυ as a relativistic 3momentum
p ( rel ) ≡ γ mυ . These quantities are the 3momentum and the total energy (note that the kinetic energy is conserved only in elastic collisions). the result can be identified as the relativistic total energy. The equality (76) can be written separately for the first three components of the 4momentum and for its fourth component
∑ γ n mn υn before collision = ∑ γ n mn υn after collision ∑ γ n mn before collision = ∑ γ n mn after collision
From Newton’s physics we know two quantities which are conserved in any collision (one is a vector and the second is a scalar).
First. Of course. the 3momentum and the total energy are never zero for a photon. If m were not zero for photons. its total energy is mc 2 . The kinetic energy has limited application in relativity because the splitting of the total energy between the potential and the kinetic energy is not always obvious... E = p ( rel ) c can be derived from Maxwell equations and also from the fact that for photons m = 0 . (1) This value has the units of energy (mass multiplied by the square of velocity). The fact that 4momentum squared is zero for photons should not confuse. we note that when the 3velocity of the particle is zero. the kinetic energy KE a free moving particle is given by
1 υ2 mυ 2 2 KE = − mc ≈ mc 1 + + . E / c
(
)
(79)
The square of the 4momentum reads
P 2 ≡ E 2 / c 2 − p ( rel )2 = m 2c 2
(80)
( ( Note 1: p ( rel )2 ≡ pxrel )2 + p (yrel )2 + pz rel )2 is the squared length of the relativistic 3vector
of the momentum. (3) it looks nice. their energies would be infinitely large because photons move with the speed of light in vacuum and the corresponding factor γ ≡ (1 − υ 2 / c 2 )
−1/ 2
is infinitely large.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
There are several reasons for identifying γ mc 2 as the total energy. − mc ≈ 2 2 υ2 2c 1− 2 c
mc 2
2 2
(78)
where a Taylor’s expansion assuming small value of υ 2 c 2 is used.
With the new definitions in place. and (4) it gives correct value for the kinetic energy in a non relativistic limit as shown below. the 4momentum can now be also written as
P ≡ p ( rel ) .. If the particle is moving. Therefore. its energy is increased due to kinetic energy. Note 2: For photons E = p ( rel ) c and therefore P 2 = 0 . (2) it is conserved in all collisions if calculated for the total of all involved particles.
4acceleration
33
.
0]
x′
x
instantaneous velocity of a particle is zero. we should not forget that γ will also depend on time if the speed changes. At the moment when the instantaneous 3velocity is zero. 0] . dγ d 1 = dt dt 1 − υ 2 / c 2 =
(
)
1/ 2
(
υ / c2
1−υ 2 / c
2 3/ 2
)
dυ υ dυ =γ3 2 dt c dt
(82)
Useful and equivalent expressions for 4acceleration are
A =γ
dγ d dυ υ 2 4 dυ υ [ υ. (83).υ y . But to ensure that the obtained quantity is a 4vector. 0. 0.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
Like in a non relativistic case.υ z .υ y . On the other hand this acceleration can be obtained by Lorentz transformation of
υ ′ ′ A′ which results in A = γ α x . c = γ γ υ x . 0. Examples and Some Interesting Results 1. ′ Hence in the instantaneous acceleration in the comoving frame is A′ = [α x . c ] + γ 2 [ υ. 0. then
A = γ 2a. Consider a comoving frame where the
y
y′
υ ′ α′ = [α x . 0] = γ 4 dt c 2 υ + γ a. we should take the derivative over the proper time. 0] . the 4acceleration is given by Eq. A = [a. Let the
direction of the 3acceleration in the comoving frame be in the direction of the xaxis. If the length of the 3velocity vector (that is the speed) is time independent. 0
2.υ z . the 4acceleration is defined as a time derivative of the 4velocity. (83) one gets dυ ′ = α x 1 − υ 2 / c2 dt
(
)
3/ 2
(84)
34
. In a reference frame where the comoving frame moves with the velocity of the particle. 0. Therefore c
comparing the forth component in this expression and in Eq. c dτ dτ dt
(
)
(81)
When calculating the derivative. γ dt c dt dt
(83)
A 3vector a in the above expressions is a 3vector of acceleration a ≡ dυ dt . α x .
A≡
dV d d = γ υ x .
To solve dynamical problems (for example.
4force
In line with classical mechanics.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
This differential equation describes how the velocity changes if a particle accelerated with a constant acceleration in its comoving frame. To prove this note that in the reference frame where the instantaneous 3velocity is zero. When the velocity is small relative to the speed of light we recover the not relativistic relation ′ υ = α xt . in non relativistic counterpart of the second Newton’s law the derivative of mass over time is also present if the mass is not a constant. to calculate the trajectory of a particle) one needs an expression of the force in Eq. In such a reference frame. the relativistic Newton’s law for 4vectors reads d P=F dτ The law can also be written in terms of 4velocity and 4acceleration d d dm dV dm mV = P= V+m = V + mA = F dτ dτ dτ dτ dτ (86)
( )
(87)
Note. electromagnetic force is the only fundamental force which can be easily included in the theory (see section about the electromagnetic fields below).
3force and 4force
35
. (87). which is straightforward to solve for υ and get
(
′ α xt ′ c 2 + α x2 t 2
)
1/ 2
=
(
′ α xt
′ 1 + α x2 t 2 c 2
)
1/ 2
(85)
The velocity increases in time but never reaches the speed of light in vacuum. the 4velocity is 0. 0] . The scalar product of 4acceleration and 4velocity of the same particle is always zero. 3. Therefore there is nothing really new in this equation. c . Integration of this equation leads to
υ (1 − υ 2 / c 2 ) υ =c
−1/ 2
′ = α x t . the 4acceleration is A = [a. Since gravity is excluded from SR (you need general relativity to deal with gravity).
that is Px . However. c = γ (υ ) f .
F⋅V =
dm 2 dm 2 c + mA ⋅ V = c dτ dτ dE − γ 2f ⋅ υ dt
(90)
On the other hand
F⋅V = γ 2
Therefore
(91)
dm 2 dE c =γ2 − γ 2f ⋅ υ dτ dt and if dm dτ = 0 then dE = f ⋅υ dt
(92)
(93)
Relativistic transformation of the 3force
The transformations of three components of the 3force are similar to the transformation derived for the 3velocity.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
Y
Y′
f
u
The relation
υ
Figure 5. Pz = p ( rel ) . In a not primed reference frame. the 3force is a time derivative of the relativistic 3momentum and therefore
Fx . The primed reference frame moves with velocity u as X′ in the standard X accepted configuration.
Useful equalities describing properties of the 4force are derived below. This is not surprising because there is a clear analogy between the expressions for the 4force and for the 4velocity. dτ dτ dt
where the 3force is defined as a time derivative of the relativistic 3momentum
f≡
d ( rel ) p dt
(89)
Note: The relativistic 3momentum p ( rel ) ≡ γ mυ represents the first 3 coordinates of the 4momentum P . Fy .
3force and 4force follows (88) from
between
F=
d dt d ( rel ) E 1 dE P= p . Fz = γ f because the first three
components of the 4force are the derivative of the 3momentum over the proper time. a particle moves with 3velocity υ and experiences 3force f . 36
. Py . c dt .
(99)
37
. c ]
For example.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
1 dE F = γ (υ ) f . using transformation of F as a 4vector one can derive
(94) (95)
γ (υ ′ ) f1′ = γ ( u ) γ (υ ) f1 − γ (υ )
and therefore f1′ =
u c
1 dE c dt
γ ( u ) γ (υ ) u 1 dE f1 − c c dt γ (υ ′ )
This can be further simplified by using Eq. In this case dE dt = f ⋅ υ and therefore
f1′ =
1 uf ⋅ υ f − 2 2 1 1 − υ1u / c c
(98)
An example of such a force is Lorentz 3force acting on a moving charged particle. c dt
V = γ (υ ) [ υ. γ ( u ) 1 − υ1u / c 2
f1′ =
(
)
(96)
f3′ =
1 f3 γ ( u ) 1 − υ1u / c 2
(
)
The fourth coordinate of the 4force gives the transformation for power.
Transformation of magnetic and electrical fields
The Lorentz 3force acting on a moving charged particle reads
f = qυ × b + qe . The complete set of transformations for 3force reads
1 u dE f − 2 2 1 1 − υ1u / c c dt 1 f 2′ = f2 .
dE ′ 1 dE = − uf1 2 ′ 1 − υ1u / c dt dt
(97)
A rest mass preserving force is such a force that dm dτ = 0 . (50).
b SI = bG ( µ0 4π )
1/2
eSI = ( 4πε 0 )
−1/ 2
eG
ρ SI = ( 4πε 0 )
1/ 2
ρG .
We begin by writing down the components of the Lorentz force in the non primed and primed reference frames which read f1 = υ2b3 − υ3b2 + e1 f 2 = υ3b1 − υ1b3 + e2 ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ f1′ = υ2b3 − υ3b2 + e1 ′ ′ ′ ′ ′ f 2′ = υ3b1 − υ1b3 + e2 (101)
38
. For briefness we set q = 1 . Magneticfield part of the Lorentz force. The transformation of b and e fields can be derived using transformations already derived for 3force and 3velocity. electrons for a negative charge) and is invariant for all reference frames. and q is the charge of the particle. and i z are unit vectors in x. Because
υ × b = i (υ2b3 − υ3b2 ) + j (υ3b1 − υ1b3 ) + k (υ1b2 − υ2b1 ) . the Lorentz 3force defines the electrical and magnetic fields. For example. i y . Note: The coefficients in this equation depend on the units used.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
where b is a 3vector of magnetic field and e is a 3vector of
iy
electrical field. y. j . and z
directions respectively.
where i . ix i y iz υ × b = υx υ y υz ≡ bx by bz
≡ i x (υ y bz − υ z by ) − i y (υ x bz − υ z bx ) + i z (υ x by − υ y bx )
i x . in the Gaussian units the Lorentz 3force is
iz
υ×b
b
ix
f = qG υ × bG c + qG eG . ε 0 µ0 = 1/ c 2
The electrical charge q is proportional to the number of elementary particles (for example. The relation
between the Gaussian units and the international system of units for the electrical and magnetic fields and electrical charge is given below for your reference
υ Fig. and k are corresponding orthogonal unit vectors. υ is the 3velocity of the particle.
(100)
In a way. The magnetic field vector in xzplane. The vector product is perpendicular to the xzplane.
103 and 105) must be equivalent no matter what the values of υ1 .
′ ′ This gives expressions for b3 and b2 .
( b′ = γ ( b
2
′ b3 = γ b3 − e2u / c 2
2 3
) +e u/c )
2
(106) (107)
The terms independent of the velocity υ must also be equal. we can use relativistic transformation of a 3force instead. for the first component of the primed force we get
f1′ =
γ (u ) 1 − uυ1 / c
(
υ2
2
)
′ b3 −
γ (u ) 1 − uυ1 / c 2
(
υ3
)
′ ′ b2 + e1
(103)
On the other hand. Then. e3 . This transformation states that
f1′ =
f1 − uf ⋅ υ / c 2 . 1 − uυ1 / c 2
(104)
One can now substitute the expressions for f (see Eqs. υ2 . (101)) in the not primed reference frame. υ2 = . Therefore the factors in front of υ2 and υ3 must be equal. and b1 can be obtained when the expressions for f 2′ and f3′ are
derived in two different ways (as it was done above for f1′ ) are compared.
39
. υ3 = 1 − uυ1 / c 2 γ (u ) 1 − uυ1 / c 2 γ (u ) 1 − uυ1 / c 2
(
)
(
)
(102)
to express the primed force in terms of non primed velocity. It follows that
′ e1 = e1
(108)
′ ′ ′ Expressions for e2 .Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
f3 = υ1b2 − υ2b1 + e3
′ ′ ′ ′ ′ f3′ = υ1b2 − υ2b1 + e3
respectively. and get
f1′ = = =
υ2b3 − υ3b2 + e1 − u ( e1υ1 + e2υ2 + e3υ3 ) / c 2 = 1 − uυ1 / c 2
(105)
υ2b3 − υ3b2 + e1 − e1uυ1 / c 2 − e2uυ2 / c 2 − e3uυ3 / c 2 = 1 − uυ1 / c 2
b3 − e2u / c 2
1 − uυ1 / c 2
υ2 −
b2 + e3u / c 2
1 − uυ1 / c 2
υ3 + e1
The two expressions for f1′ (Eqs. and υ3 are. we use the velocity transformations
′ υ1 =
υ3 υ1 − u υ2 ′ ′ . All the results are summarized below. For example.
Those who are interested may read one of the recommended books. and the current density j and the charge density ρ are changed as components of a 4current density
J ≡ ρ0 V = ρ0γ [ υ.
40
. the e and b fields are transformed as derived above.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
′ e1 = e1
′ e2 = γ ( e2 − ub3 ) ′ e3 = γ ( e3 + ub2 ) ′ b1 = b1 u ′ b2 = γ b2 + 2 e3 c u ′ b3 = γ b3 − 2 e2 c
(109)
Concluding remarks
Maxwell equations div b = 0. curl e = −
∂b ∂t
stay valid if the Lorentz transformations of spacetime are used.
One can also introduce an electromagnetic field tensor (a generalization of a 4vector) and write the Maxwell equations in a 4tensor form but we will not develop this technique in these lectures. c ] ≡ j. curl b = − µ0 j + ε 0 µ0
∂e ∂t
(110) (111)
div e = ρ ε 0 . c ρ
(112)
This can be verified directly by substitution of the appropriate transformation derived in this course.
In each of these equalities you should have energy/momentum of all particles added together before collision (say on the left hand side) and total energy/momentum of the involved particles after collision on the other side of the equality. Therefore. If it is easier to solve the problem in some reference frame. for example. In this case the velocities of the parts after collision are equal and the number of unknowns in the equations is dramatically reduced. What you need to do is to write down 4 equalities. and z so that some of the momenta are obviously zeros. p (yrel ) =
( pxrel ) =
mυ x
1−υ / c
2 2
mυ y
1−υ / c
2 2
( .) you can not consider the masses to be the same before and after collision and the problem generally speaking. then you can get the solution for a different frame by applying appropriate transformations
41
. This will reduce the number of the equations. unless the particles are elementary (like electrons. you can not add mass of these parts together to get the mass of the composite particle. information that particles stick together after collision. This is because the primary particles can interact with each other or can move relative to each other. can not be solved if some extra information is not provided. Anything of the above will change the mass. In exceptional situation a trick can help to answer the question. a term rest mass is used instead of simply mass. a term used in these notes). Note that m in these expressions is the mass of a particle (in some other texts.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
Some General Hints for Solving Problems
Colliding or “breaking into parts particles” are usually one type of problems where Special Relativity is easy to use. . The expressions for the total energy and the relativistic 3momentum are
E=
mc 2
1 −υ 2 / c2
. This can be.
The electrical/magnetic fields may need conversion from one reference frame to another. y. e. One for the total energy and three for each component of the relativistic 3momentum vector (thus you cover all four components of the 4momentum vector).g. If the particle is made of parts. pz rel ) =
mυ z
1−υ 2 / c2
It is useful to use symmetry and choose the direction of the x.
Some problems require solving differential equations describing the dynamics of the system. a typical example of a force is the Lorentz force f = qυ × b + qe .
42
. Of course you need an expression for force f to write down the actual equation.Three Lectures on Special Relativity by Taras Plakhotnik
′ e1 = e1
′ e2 = γ ( e2 − ub3 ) ′ e3 = γ ( e3 + ub2 ) ′ b1 = b1 u ′ b2 = γ b2 + 2 e3 c u ′ b3 = γ b3 − 2 e2 c
But watch the sign of u! In these equations u is positive if the primed RF moves in the direction of increasing positive values of x of the not primed RF. Since gravity is excluded from SR.
d mυ =f dt 1 − υ 2 / c 2
Note that each of the components of the 3velocity and the speed (the magnitude of the velocity) may be time dependent.
The Twin Paradox
Everyone who teaches or study Special Relativity should an opinion about the Twin Paradox.