relativity theory

Four-vectors and conservation laws in relativity

This lecture was delivered to the final year honors class of 3 year science degree students on 21 November 2017 as part of the Classical Dynamics paper.

In this lecture we will discuss some of the important tools of relativistic mechanics. We will discuss the idea of proper-time, 4-velocity, 4-acceleration, 4-momentum, 4-force and related conservation law of the 4-momentum.

A. Proper-time. 
The proper time is the time interval in the rest-frame of any event. The proper time is related to time-interval in other inertial frame by: tau = (1/gamma)t where gamma  > 1 always.

Gamma is the Lorentz factor or Lorentz boost factor directly related to the speed of an object in speed-of-light units, i.e. beta.

gamma = 1/sqrt{1-v^2/c^2}

Hence proper-time is the smallest possible time interval for an object in motion in among all possible inertial frames of reference and it occurs in the rest frame.

d(tau) < dt

Proper-time is necessary to define other basic quantities in theory of relativity if we are to preserve their basic meaning in terms of the non-relativistic mechanics definitions.

B. Four velocity. 
Four velocity of a particle is the rate of change of 4-displacement …

So, …  is the position vector — or space-time interval in the Minkowski  space — akin to the difference of two 3-dimensional vector in coordinate space, this time with 4 coordinates rather than 3.

The proper-time interval d(tau) is a Lorentz invariant i.e. when we move between arbitrary inertial frames of references given by the Lorentz factor beta or  gamma this interval retains its value — because it retains its form. Any variable which would retain its form under such transformation are said to be Lorentz invariant quantities.

Relativistic Doppler effect

Relativistic Doppler effect. 

There is an apparent shift in the observed frequency of any electromagnetic wave (light) when there is any relative motion between the source of light and the observer. This can be easily determined by using the 4-vector formulation of theory of relativity.

Lets discuss the details of this phenomena under two situations.

A. Source is at rest and observer is in motion. 
Lets us consider two inertial frames S and S’. S’ is moving wrt S, along the x-axis with speed v = (beta) c where the observer is at rest in S’ frame but the source is at rest in the  S frame.

Waves, particles and Einstein !

Waves are something that have no mass and move at the maximum speed, mass m = 0. speed c = 1. So whats their momentum? p = m.v = 0? Right?

No. For pure waves; momentum does not come from mass. It comes only from motion.

(pure wave; they do not have mass)

For matter waves, on the other hand, momentum comes in two ways, mass as well as motion.

(impure, now they have mass)

Albert Einstein recognized this fact and derived his relation; $latex E = \sqrt {(pc)^2+(mc^2)^2}$

This relation is called as Einstein’s relativistic equation, also Einstein’s mass-energy relation. But more appropriately mass-energy-momentum relation.

Let us consider E as the hypotenuse, p and m; as base or perpendicular as is your choice.

triangle_copyThen $latex E = \sqrt {(pc)^2+(mc^2)^2}$ is Pythagoras Theorem; when p is momentum and m is mass.

For pure waves such as photon … the quanta of light, m = 0.

Hence the Pythagorean Triangle is now one, where the mass side is arbitrary small. Thus E = p.

What happens when cows move rapidly !

Cows not moving and moving fast. How does this difference impact the image in a modern digital camera?

Honestly I haven’t checked it with old day manual camera neither do I remember what impact motion brings into mages taken by such, eg does anyone remember when he/she took a picture of a friend standing in a platform and a train was coming, what happened to the image due to such motion?

Do you see where the fuzziness coming from, in the pictures, where the cows are moving?

Its coming from the relative motion between “objects being imaged” (cows and grass etc) and equipment of imaging (camera). This fuzziness is quite small when they are both still (the object and camera, wrt each other).

Uncertainty Principle and Photography !

why a moving object becomes fuzzy when you take its picture. Speed bears an uncertainty with momentum (hence energy ) just like time with energy and position with momentum. But for photons which are always ultra-relativistic we should not talk about its positions. Due to speed (relative motion of objects such as your and moving while other body parts being still) energy and momentum are uncertain. Hence position becomes uncertain. (Do not confuse between position of photon vs position/location on your image although its connected to wave-function collapse BEFORE or AFTER the observation ? is the question you should be asking, BEFORE the observation no sense of photon’s position, but AFTER collapse we do see only a particular outcome in terms of fuzzy images.)