Since real phenomena associated with special relativity are difficult to observe in the laboratory, we will look at several computer simulations instead. The simulations will enable us to give objects speeds that approach the speed of light so that relativistic effects can be explored.
Exercise 1: Light Clocks
Exercise 2: Space-Time Diagrams
Exercise 3: Pole in a Barn
After completing these exercises, we will view two films showing experiments that can only be interpreted correctly using the ideas of special relativity. The first film, The Ultimate Speed, shows a measurement of the maximum speed to which an electron can be accelerated. The second film, Time Dilation, shows the way in which observers view parameters when they are in different frames of reference moving at constant speed with respect to each other.
Include a one-page summary of each movie in your lab report.
Original Physlet-based material authored by Mario Belloni and Wolfgang
Christian and appears in the paper,
"Teaching Special Relativity Using Physlets," The Physics Teacher, May 2004.
Narrative of the laboratory exercises authored by Tim Gfroerer.
© 2004 by Mario Belloni, Wolfgang Christian, and Tim Gfroerer.