Light and Special Relativity

Light and Special Relativity

Inquiry question: How does the behaviour of light affect concepts of time, space and matter

● Analyse and evaluate the evidence confirming or denying Einstein’s two postulates:
– the speed of light in a vacuum is an absolute constant
– all inertial frames of reference are equivalent (ACSPH131)
● Investigate the evidence, from Einstein’s thought experiments and subsequent experimental validation, for time dilation time-dilation and length contraction length-contraction, and analyse quantitatively situations in which these are observed, for example:
– Observations of cosmic-origin muons at the Earth’s surface
– Atomic clocks (Hafele–Keating experiment)
– Evidence from particle accelerators
– Evidence from cosmological studies

● Describe the consequences and applications of relativistic momentum with reference to:

– The limitation on the maximum velocity of a particle imposed by special relativity (ACSPH133)

● Use Einstein’s mass–energy equivalence relationship ? = ??2 to calculate the energy released by processes in which mass is converted to energy, for example: (ACSPH134)
– Production of energy by the sun
– Particle–antiparticle interactions, eg positron–electron annihilation
– Combustion of conventional fuel

Extract from Physics Stage 6 Syllabus © 2017 NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA)