The three major conflicts in modern physics,Special and general relativity

Topics: General relativity, Special relativity, Spacetime Pages: 8 (962 words) Published: November 3, 2013
The Three Major Conflicts

Conflict between Newton’s law of
motion and Maxwell’s law of
• Newton’s laws---run fast enough,
you can catch up a beam of light.
• Maxwell’s electromagnetism---no matter how hard you chase after a light beam, it still retreats
from you at light speed.
• This conflict gave birth to special
theory of relativity
• According to special relativity,
space and time depend on one’s
state of motion.



Conflict between Einstein’s special
relativity and Newton’s law of
universal gravitation.
• Special relativity---no influence
or disturbance of any sort can
travel faster than the speed of
• Law of Universal gravitation---involves influences that are transmitted instantaneously over
vast distances of space
• This conflict gave birth to
general relativity.
• According to general relativity--space and time can warp and curve in response to the
presence of matter or energy--such distortions to the fabric of space and time transmit the
force of gravity from one place
to another at exactly the speed
of light.


Conflict between general relativity and
quantum mechanics:
• The gently curving geometrical
form of space and time
incompatible with the microscopic
behavior implied by quantum
• What really happens to space, time
and matter when crushed together at
the moment of the big bang or at the
central point of a black hole?
• The central problem of modern


Special Relativity:
What happens if we chase after a beam of
light, at light speed?
• According to Newton---we will catch up
the light waves and they will appear
• According to Maxwell---there is no such
thing as stationary light.
Space and time as measured by distances and
durations are not experienced identically by
every one.


Postulates Of special relativity
1. The principle of relativity:
• There is no way for you to
determine any thing about your state
of motion with out making some
direct or indirect comparison with
outside objects.
• All force free motion is relative.
There is no absolute constant
velocity motion. only comparisons
have any physical meaning
• The laws of physics are absolutely
identical for all observers
undergoing constant velocity
2. The constancy of the speed of light:
• The speed of light is the same in
all constantly moving frames–it
travels at 670 million miles per
hour regardless of bench marks for


Consequences of Special relativity
1. Time dilation:
Motion affects the passage
of time; it fundamentally
affects the ticking of any and
all clocks regardless of their
particular design of
In comparison to a
stationary clock, the rate of
moving clock becomes slower
and slower as it moves faster
and faster:
A moving clock ticks more
slowly than a stationary clock


I. Simultaneity
• Things that are simultaneous from
the view point of some observers
will not be simultaneous from the
view point of others, if the two
groups are in relative motion.
• Simultaneity is not a universal
concept that every one, regardless
of its state of motion agrees upon.


II. Twin Paradox
• Time elapses more slowly for an
individual in motion than for an
individual at rest---this can be
applied to time as measured by
heart beats and the decay of
body parts.
• Experimental Confirmation:
Muons disintegrate in about
2 micro seconds.
The average life expectancy
of muons increases
dramatically if they move at
an appreciable speed(their
life time increases by a
factor of ten if they move at
• If people were to zip
around as quickly as
these muons,their life
expectancy would also
increase by the same




General Relativity
What happens if a rope in an elevator
If a person falls freely he will not feel his
own weight
If we are holding a...
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