relativity

Category archives for relativity

“Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” –Alfred A. Montapert You might not think of falling into a black hole as a choice, but in the case of this week’s Ask Ethan, someone is choosing to explore exactly that! Imagine, if you will, taking a solid object that’s completely outside of an…

“If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” -Mario Andretti One of the toughest things to wrap your mind around in the natural world is the idea of special relativity: the faster you move, the closer you get to the speed of light, the more difficult it becomes to increase your speed at…

Imagine that you’ve got that absolutely weightless feeling, the kind you get when you lose your balance and hurtle towards the ground. Are you on a roller coaster? Did you fall out of an airplane? Or are you in an accelerating elevator? According to Einstein’s Equivalence Principle, there’s really no way for you to tell,…

Photonic Booms (Synopsis)

Imagine the surface of the Moon, so distant, and an infinitely precise and powerful laser pointer. With a flick of your wrist, you can send the dot that you see flying across the Moon’s surface as quickly as you can manage. Without too much difficulty, in fact, you’ll find yourself breaking the speed of light!…

“It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind.” –Albert Einstein On the one hand, we have matter — things with mass — in the Universe, ranging all the way from planets, stars and galaxies on…

“We like to admit to only that which already glows, although it is nobler to support brightness before it glows, not afterwards.” –Dejan Stojanovic When we look back to greater and greater distances in the Universe, we’re looking back to earlier and earlier times as well. At some point, we can see far enough back…

“Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.” –Hermann Minkowski When you think of waves, chances are you think of some type of pressure wave moving through a medium, like sound or water…

When we talk about dimensions, we’re used to thinking of three: something like length, width and depth, or x, y and z. But there’s a fourth dimension as well that’s of paramount importance for our Universe, otherwise everything would simply be static: time. Our motion through time as well as space is what allows things to…

“I think one of the coolest things you can do is disappear for a while, because it gives you the chance to re-emerge.” –Josh Homme The Big Bang — and General Relativity in general — teaches us that in an expanding Universe, it’s the fabric of space itself that evolves over time. One of the…

The Strangest Theory We Know Is True (Synopsis)

When it comes to physics, there sure are some strange theories — and even stranger phenomena — out there. The notion that particles don’t have fixed, intrinsic properties that are simultaneously measurable can only be described as weird, and the fact that you can add as much energy as you want to a particle but…