Comments about "Special relativity" in Wikipedia

This document contains comments about the article Special relativity in Wikipedia
In the last paragraph I explain my own opinion.




The article starts with the following sentence.
In Albert Einstein's original pedagogical treatment, it is based on two postulates:
  1. The laws of physics are invariant (i.e. identical) in all inertial systems (non-accelerating frames of reference).
  2. The speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers, regardless of the motion of the light source.
The issue is how important are these postulates if you want to describe the evolution of the Universe using one reference frame?
Physical processes have nothing to do with a particular reference frame, as such you should select for a frame in which on average the process is at rest.
Special relativity implies a wide range of consequences, which have been experimentally verified, including length contraction, time dilation, relativistic mass, mass–energy equivalence, a universal speed limit and relativity of simultaneity.

1. Traditional "two postulates" approach to special relativity

2 Principle of relativity

2.1 Reference frames and relative motion

Reference frames play a crucial role in relativity theory.
Reference frames play a crucial role in any theory.
At the same time it also raises a serious question: Why do you need reference frames?
In addition, a reference frame has the ability to determine measurements of the time of events using a 'clock' (any reference device with uniform periodicity).
It is very important to describe what a clock is. A simple definition is a device which emits light flashes between two parallel mirrors.
Since the speed of light is constant in relativity in each and every reference frame, pulses of light can be used to unambiguously measure distances and refer back the times that events occurred to the clock, even though light takes time to reach the clock after the event has transpired.
The first problem is that the path of a light ray is not straight but bended which makes it more difficult to define the origin.
The second reason why this is complicated, is because when I receive a light signal I can not define its origin. Only by using concepts like doppler shifts or standard candles I can specify the origin better.

2.2 Standard configuration

2.3 Lack of an absolute reference frame

The principle of relativity, which states that physical laws have the same form in each inertial reference frame, dates back to Galileo, and was incorporated into Newtonian physics.
This sentence seems to indicate as it is wrong when you try to understand the processes that take place in the Universe when you only use one reference frame.
The aether was thought to constitute an absolute reference frame against which speeds could be measured, and could be considered fixed and motionless.
In order to measure a speed of something you need a reference frame and a clock. The concept of an eather is not a requirement.
Einstein's solution was to discard the notion of an aether and the absolute state of rest. In relativity, any reference frame moving with uniform motion will observe the same laws of physics.
The whole issue is if two 'identical' processes in relatif motion behave the same.
In particular, the speed of light in vacuum is always measured to be c, even when measured by multiple systems that are moving at different (but constant) velocities.
The whole issue is how the speed of light is measured.
Consider an observer who emits a flash of light. This flash is supposed to propagate in a sphere. How is this measured?
Consider a second observer which at the same when the first observer emits his flash passes with a speed v. How does this observer measures the speed of light?

2.4 Relativity without the second postulate

3 Lorentz invariance as the essential core of special relativity

3.1 Alternative approaches to special relativity

3.2 Lorentz transformation and its inverse

3.3 Graphical representation of the Lorentz transformation

4. Consequences derived from the Lorentz transformation

4.1 Invariant interval

4.2 Relativity of simultaneity

Two events happening in two different locations that occur simultaneously in the reference frame of one inertial observer, may occur non-simultaneously in the reference frame of another inertial observer (lack of absolute simultaneity).
The word occur is wrong.
"Two events happening in two different locations which one observer observes simultaneously, may not be observed simultaneously by an other moving observer". The issue is are there simultaneous events? Does it make sense to define simulatneous events?

4.2 Relativity of simultaneity

4.3 Time dilation

The problem with Time dilation (moving clocks) is that moving clocks behave physical differently.
Time dilation explains a number of physical phenomena; for example, the lifetime of muons produced by cosmic rays impinging on the Earth's atmosphere is measured to be greater than the lifetimes of muons measured in the laboratory.
The cause that these processes behave different is not Time dilation. The only thing that you can say is that Time dilation describes this behaviour (i.e follows the same logic). To find the cause you have to investigate the process itself in more detail.

4.4 Length contraction

The dimensions (e.g., length) of an object as measured by one observer may be smaller than the results of measurements of the same object made by another observer (e.g., the ladder paradox involves a long ladder traveling near the speed of light and being contained within a smaller garage).
The most important issue is how is this length measured. In fact it should be measured in the same reference frame.

4.5 Lorentz transformation of velocities

4.6 Thomas rotation

4.7 Causality and prohibition of motion faster than light

5 Optical effects

5.1 Dragging effects

5.2 Relativistic aberration of light

5.3 Relativistic Doppler effect

5.4 Measurement versus visual appearance

Figure 5-4. Comparison of the measured length contraction of a cube versus its visual appearance.
The simulation and the text are poor
It is easy to make a simulation. The problem is how is this length contraction measured in reality.
Generally speaking what we see is a distorted picture of the reality.
To observe that is simple if you compare moving around an object (with the same distance) compared with moving in a straight line in front of an object.
Time dilation and length contraction are not optical illusions, but genuine effects.
Both subjects should always be discussed separatly. Time dilation has to do with the behaviour of physical clocks (using light signals). This definitly involves physical changes.
Length contraction is much more difficult to demonstrate and maybe is a total illusion.
IMO this discussion should be based on what is physical real and what is physical not real. Real implies physical changes and are genuine. Not real changes are illusions.
Measurements of these effects are not an artifact of Doppler shift, nor are they the result of neglecting to take into account the time it takes light to travel from an event to an observer.
Mesurements etc. How?
Physical effects have nothing to do with an observer. They constitute internal changes in the process itself and should be measured indepently of view point of any observer.
Scientists make a fundamental distinction between measurement or observation on the one hand, versus visual appearance, or what one sees.
The problem is in many experiments observers are involved. There is nothing wrong with this in principle.
If you measure the water temperature with a thermometer, the water temperature changes. That is part of the game.
An observer can make observations with his eyes, that is okay. Better is which type of instruments he uses.
What is important that all observations from something at a distance, show something in the past.
If you see a flash, the flash happened in the past as a function of distance.
If you see a flash and this reflash is reflected by a mirror and caused by you, than the vent of the flash happened twice this distance.
Another example where visual appearance is at odds with measurement comes from the observation of apparent superluminal motion in various radio galaxies, BL Lac objects, quasars, and other astronomical objects that eject
Another example where visual observations are at odds with the physical reality and create a sort of illusion comes from the observation of apparent superluminal motion in various radio galaxies etc
This is the effect when a train approaches an observer and shows length expansion, but this length expansion is an illusion See: Length Contraction: A visible illusion ?

6 Dynamics

6.1 Equivalence of mass and energy

6.2 How far can one travel from the Earth?

7 Relativity and unifying electromagnetism

8 Theories of relativity and quantum mechanics

9 Status

10 Technical discussion of spacetime

10.1 Geometry of spacetime

10.2 Physics in spacetime

11. See also

Following is a list with "Comments in Wikipedia" about related subjects

Reflection 1

Reflection 2

Reflection 3


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Created: 21 October 2017

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