According to Einstein's theory of special relativity,
the observed length of objects is dependent upon the
speed of that object. For objects moving at relativistic
speeds, there is an observable contraction in the length
relative to an observer in a stationary reference frame.
For instance, if a spaceship traveled past Earth at
relativistic speeds, an observer on Earth would observe
the length of the ship to be less than it would be
observed when at rest. The following animation allows you
to investigate this phenomenon.
- Use the user input box to modify the speed of the
spaceship; use values between 0 and 99.999% the speed
- Click on the Run
button to observe the animation.
- Record values of spaceship speed and relativistic
- Repeat for several values of spaceship speed. Use
the Reset button if you
encounter any problems.
Tutorial information on length contraction and
Einstein's theory of special relativity is available in
Unit 7 at The Physics