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Lesson 2: Time Dilation

Lesson 1: Relativity - What is it?

  1. Fermilab's Time Dilation Challenge.
  2. The Basics of Relativity (6 seconds)
  3. The Relativity Game - Challenge what you know!

Note: For Fermilab's Time Dilation Challenge and The Relativity Game, you need Shockwave. You may painlessly Download Shockwave here if you do not have it.

Lesson 2: Time Dilation

  1. The equation.
  2. Where does that come from?
  3. I still don't get it! Give me the basketball analogy.
  4. So what? There's an equation. How do I use the equation in the game?
  5. Practice Problems.
  6. Examples to aid your practice.

Lesson 3 : Relativistic Mass

  1. The equation.
  2. Where does that come from?
  3. I still don't get it! Give me the space pool analogy.
  4. So what? There's an equation. How do I use the equation in the game?
  5. Practice Problems.
  6. Examples to aid your practice.

Lesson 4 : Length Contraction

  1. The equation.
  2. Where does that come from?
  3. I still don't get it! Give me the pole and the barn analogy.
  4. So what? There's an equation. How do I use the equation in the game?
  5. Practice Problems.
  6. Examples to aid your practice.

Practice Problems.

Question 1:

Consider two twins 25 years old. One twin steps on a space ship (after studying physics in college) and travels through space at 0.95 c for 4 years according to her. How old is each twin when she returns?

Consider the muon described below for questions 2 through 4:

A muon is created in our upper atmosphere and travels toward the ground at 0.998 c. If it's lifetime is 2.2 x 10-6 seconds.

Question 2:

What is the lifetime of the muon as observed by the earth's frame of reference?

Question 3:

How much distance would be covered by the earth as it sped toward the muon according to its own reference frame?

Question 4:

How much distance would the muon cover in our reference frame?

See some muon facts!

 

Consider Proxima Centuri for questions 5 - 8:

The nearest galaxy is Proxima Centuri and it is about 2 million light years from earth.

Question 5:

Without relativistic effects, how long would it take us to reach Proxima Centuri if we could travel at half the speed of light?

Question 6:

Without relativistic effects, how long would it take us to reach Proxima Centuri if we could travel the speed of light?

Question 7:

Considering relativistic effects, how long would it take us to reach Proxima Centuri if we traveled at 0.99 c?

Question 8:

How fast would we need to travel if we were to reach Proxima Centuri in 28 years?

Question 9:

Comedian Stephen Wright has a joke in one of his routines in which he is interviewing his boss to see if he would consider taking a job. He asks, "If you were in a car traveling at 99.999% the speed of light and you turned on your headlights, would you see anything?" Would you?

Other Internet Links:

Try your hand at this Java Script enhanced description of Time Dilation from Mission Control.

Take the "Discover it for yourself challenge" - this is a nicely laid out set of pages that graphically ask you to apply basic math, physics and ultimately relativistic time.

 

Lesson 2: Time Dilation

  1. The equation.
  2. Where does that come from?
  3. I still don't get it! Give me the basketball analogy.
  4. So what? There's an equation. How do I use the equation in the game?
  5. Practice Problems.
  6. Examples to aid your practice.

 


© Brian Wegley, 1998
Comments and suggestions can be sent by e-mail to
Brian Wegley of Glenbrook South High School..
This page last updated on 7/23/98.