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Einstein’s second postulate

The second postulate upon which Einstein based his theory of special relativity deals with the speed of light. Late in the 19th century, the major tenets of classical physics were well established. Two of the most important were the laws of electricity and magnetism and Newton’s laws. In particular, the laws of electricity and magnetism predict that light travels at c = 3 . 00 × 10 8 m/s size 12{c=3 "." "00" times "10" rSup { size 8{8} } `"m/s"} {} in a vacuum, but they do not specify the frame of reference in which light has this speed.

There was a contradiction between this prediction and Newton’s laws, in which velocities add like simple vectors. If the latter were true, then two observers moving at different speeds would see light traveling at different speeds. Imagine what a light wave would look like to a person traveling along with it at a speed c size 12{c} {} . If such a motion were possible then the wave would be stationary relative to the observer. It would have electric and magnetic fields that varied in strength at various distances from the observer but were constant in time. This is not allowed by Maxwell’s equations. So either Maxwell’s equations are wrong, or an object with mass cannot travel at speed c size 12{c} {} . Einstein concluded that the latter is true. An object with mass cannot travel at speed c size 12{c} {} . This conclusion implies that light in a vacuum must always travel at speed c size 12{c} {} relative to any observer. Maxwell’s equations are correct, and Newton’s addition of velocities is not correct for light.

Investigations such as Young’s double slit experiment in the early-1800s had convincingly demonstrated that light is a wave. Many types of waves were known, and all travelled in some medium. Scientists therefore assumed that a medium carried light, even in a vacuum, and light travelled at a speed c size 12{c} {} relative to that medium. Starting in the mid-1880s, the American physicist A. A. Michelson, later aided by E. W. Morley, made a series of direct measurements of the speed of light. The results of their measurements were startling.

Michelson-morley experiment

The Michelson-Morley experiment    demonstrated that the speed of light in a vacuum is independent of the motion of the Earth about the Sun.

The eventual conclusion derived from this result is that light, unlike mechanical waves such as sound, does not need a medium to carry it. Furthermore, the Michelson-Morley results implied that the speed of light c size 12{c} {} is independent of the motion of the source relative to the observer. That is, everyone observes light to move at speed c size 12{c} {} regardless of how they move relative to the source or one another. For a number of years, many scientists tried unsuccessfully to explain these results and still retain the general applicability of Newton’s laws.

It was not until 1905, when Einstein published his first paper on special relativity, that the currently accepted conclusion was reached. Based mostly on his analysis that the laws of electricity and magnetism would not allow another speed for light, and only slightly aware of the Michelson-Morley experiment, Einstein detailed his second postulate of special relativity    .

Second postulate of special relativity

The speed of light c size 12{c} {} is a constant, independent of the relative motion of the source.

Deceptively simple and counterintuitive, this and the first postulate leave all else open for change. Some fundamental concepts do change. Among the changes are the loss of agreement on the elapsed time for an event, the variation of distance with speed, and the realization that matter and energy can be converted into one another. You will read about these concepts in the following sections.

Misconception alert: constancy of the speed of light

The speed of light is a constant c = 3.00 × 10 8 m/s size 12{c=3 "." "00" times "10" rSup { size 8{8} } `"m/s"} {} in a vacuum . If you remember the effect of the index of refraction from The Law of Refraction , the speed of light is lower in matter.

Explain how special relativity differs from general relativity.

Answer

Special relativity applies only to unaccelerated motion, but general relativity applies to accelerated motion.

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Section summary

  • Relativity is the study of how different observers measure the same event.
  • Modern relativity is divided into two parts. Special relativity deals with observers who are in uniform (unaccelerated) motion, whereas general relativity includes accelerated relative motion and gravity. Modern relativity is correct in all circumstances and, in the limit of low velocity and weak gravitation, gives the same predictions as classical relativity.
  • An inertial frame of reference is a reference frame in which a body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion moves at a constant speed in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force.
  • Modern relativity is based on Einstein’s two postulates. The first postulate of special relativity is the idea that the laws of physics are the same and can be stated in their simplest form in all inertial frames of reference. The second postulate of special relativity is the idea that the speed of light c size 12{c} {} is a constant, independent of the relative motion of the source.
  • The Michelson-Morley experiment demonstrated that the speed of light in a vacuum is independent of the motion of the Earth about the Sun.

Conceptual questions

Which of Einstein’s postulates of special relativity includes a concept that does not fit with the ideas of classical physics? Explain.

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Is Earth an inertial frame of reference? Is the Sun? Justify your response.

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When you are flying in a commercial jet, it may appear to you that the airplane is stationary and the Earth is moving beneath you. Is this point of view valid? Discuss briefly.

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Questions & Answers

can a given total amount of mechanical energy be totally converted into heat energy..if so give example
Muhammad Reply
human running
Emmanuel
what is the fumula for calculating specific heat capacity, fusion,fission and vaporization?
Dohn Reply
Q=cm(∆t)
Emmanuel
Q=cm∆T
Muhammad
what is difference b/w vaporization and evaporation
Muhammad
evaporation is the process of extracting moisture while vaporization is process of becoming a vapor or gas
Emmanuel
From a molecular standpoint they are both cooling processes. Also, you may want to explore states of matter😊 #myTwoCents ~Shi~
Shii
cooling is a similarlity in both process I am confused in difference
Muhammad
1- Evaporation is a process where a liquid change to gas without reaching its boiling point. 2- Vaporization is a process where a liquid change to gas after reaching its boiling point. 3- Sublimation is a process where a solid changes into vapour without passing through a liquid state
Victor
I see. Evaporation is a type of vaporization, that occurs on the surface of a liquid as it changes into the gaseous phase before reaching its boiling point. hope that aids
Shii
vaporisation is cooling process while vaporization is heating process
Emmanuel
I mean to write evaporation is an heating process while vaporization is cooling process
Emmanuel
Yea here are two applications. 1- your wet washed clothes dry under the sun, the water EVAPORATES 2- when u are cooking, it reaches a point where u need to add more water because the water you added previously is getting dried. this is VAPORIZATION. Am not sure which is a cooling or heating process
Victor
vaporization occur only when the evaporation get to level where the above cloud is been (saturated) so cooling take place and started to change to liquid (eg rain fall)
Emmanuel
They are both properties of the same process so they're both cooling
Shii
what about sublimation? cooling or heating process?
Victor
exact
Muhammad
evaporation is the increase in kinetic energy of the liquid which can be gone by adding heat
Emmanuel
so its an heating process
Emmanuel
sublimation is when a solid change to gas
Emmanuel
evaporation is very definitely a cooling process. respectfully@Emmanuel when liquid turns to gas it requires more energy from its surroundings, this energy is in the form of heat, and when heat energy leaves the evaporating liquid it leaves it cooler. Thus, cooling process.
Shii
.
Shii
evaporation is very definitely a cooling process. respectfully@Emmanuel
Shii
kk
Emmanuel
You're right @Shi. I get your point
Victor
eascape velocity on the surface of Earth is 11.2 kms-1 the escape velocity on the surface of another planet of same mass as that of Earth but of 1/4 times of radius of Earth is a5.6kms-1 b11.2 kms-1 c22.4kms-1 d5.6ms-1
Muhammad
Emm.. is that a question? or..
Victor
it is McQ
Muhammad
a)5.6km/s
Alvis
c= Q/cm◇T
A.d
it's answer is 22.4
Muhammad
units...
Shii
vital
Shii
the time period of the artificial satellite is given by ?
raza
Why is there no 2nd harmonic in the classical electron orbit?
Shree Reply
how to reform magnet after been demagneted
Inuwa Reply
A petrol engine has a output of 20 kilowatts and uses 4.5 kg of fuel for each hour of running. The energy given out when 1 kg of petrol is burnt is 4.8 × 10 to the power of 7 Joules. a) What is the energy output of the engine every hour? b) What is the energy input of the engine every hour?
Morris Reply
what is the error during taking work done of a body..
Aliyu Reply
what kind of error do you think? and work is held by which force?
Daniela
I am now in this group
smart
theory,laws,principles and what-a-view are not defined. why? you
Douglas Reply
A simple pendulum is used in a physics laboratory experiment to obtain an experimental value for the gravitational acceleration, g . A student measures the length of the pendulum to be 0.510 meters, displaces it 10 o from the equilibrium position, and releases it. Using a s
Emmanuel Reply
so what question are you passing across... sir?
Olalekan
Two masses of 2 kg and 4 kg are held with a compressed spring between them. If the masses are released, the spring will push them away from each other. If the smaller mass moves off with a velocity of 6m/s, what is the stored energy in the spring when it is compressed?
Emmanuel Reply
54 joule
babar
how?
rakesh
Reduce that two body problem into one body problem. Apply potential and k. E formula to get total energy of the system
rakesh
i dont think dere is any potential energy... by d virtue of no height present
Olalekan
there is compressed energy,dats only potential energy na?
rakesh
yes.. but... how will u approach that question without The Height in the question?
Olalekan
Can you explain how you get 54J?
Emmanuel
Because mine is 36J
Emmanuel
got 36J too
Douglas
OK the answer is 54J Babar is correct
Emmanuel
Conservation of Momentum
Emmanuel
woow i see.. can you give the formula for this
joshua
Two masses of 2 kg and 4 kg are held with a compressed spring between them. If the masses are released, the spring will push them away from each other. If the smaller mass moves off with a velocity of 6m/s, what is the stored energy in the spring when it is compressed? Asume there is no external force.
Emmanuel Reply
Please help!
Emmanuel
please help find dy/dx 2x-y/x+y
Inuwa
By using the Quotient Rule dy/dx = 3y/(x +y)²
Emmanuel
3y/(x+y)²
Emmanuel
may be by using MC^2=MC^2 and Total energy=kinetic energy +potential energy so 1st find kinetic energy and den find potential energy which is stored energy
rakesh
i think i m correct
rakesh
But how?
Emmanuel
3y/(x+y)²
Douglas
what's the big bang?
kwame Reply
yes what is it?
LamaBbake
it is the explanation of how the universe began
Zainab
yes
Ana
explain
Chinagorom
in
Chinagorom
it is a theory on how the universe began. to understand more I would suggest researching the topic online.
david
thanks guys
kwame
if a force of 12N is applied to load of 200g what us the work done
Joshua Reply
We can seek accelation first
Nancy
we are given f=12 m=200g which is 0.2kg now from 2nd law of newton a= f/m=60m/s*2 work done=force applied x displacement cos (theta) w= 12x60 =720nm/s*2
Mudang
this very interesting question very complicated for me, í need urgent help. 1,two buses A and B travel along the same road in the same direction from Harper city (asume They both started from the same point) to Monrovia. if bus A maintains a Speedy of 60km/h and bus B a Speedy of 75km/h, how many
mohammed
hours Will it take bus B to overtake bus A assuming bus B starts One hour after bus A started. what is the distance travelled by the buses when They meet?.
mohammed
pls í need help
mohammed
4000 work is done
Ana
speed=distance /time distance=speed/time
Ana
now use this formula
Ana
what's the answer then
Julius
great Mudang
Kossi
please Ana explain 4000 ?
babar
hey mudang there is a product of force and acceleration not force and displacement
babar
@Mohammed answer is 0.8hours or 48mins
Douglas
nice
A.d
its not possible
Olalekan
í want the working procedure
mohammed
the answer is given but how Will One arrive at it. the answers are 4hours and 300m.
mohammed
physics is the science that studies the non living nature
isidor Reply
ancient greek language physis = nature
isidor
what is phyacs
technical Reply
if i am going to start studying physics where should i start?
BRIAN Reply
I think from kinematics
Nancy
You can find physics books at the library or online. That's how I started.
Chelsea
And yes, kinematics is usually where you can begin.
Chelsea
study basic algebra and calculus and can start from classical mechanics
Mudang
yes think so but dimension is the best starting point
Obed
Practice Key Terms 6

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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