4-vectors

dot product of 4-vectors

example of energy available in fixed-target vs. colliding beam experiments

Newton's laws are invariant under Galilean transformations:

- t'=t
- x'=x-vt
- y'=y
- z'=z

I'll discuss four of the important consequences of the Lorentz transformation.

*The relativity of simultaneity*: If two events occur at the same time in frame*S*but at different locations, then they do*not*occur at the same time in frame*S'*. Specifically, for t_{a}= t_{b}and x_{a}<&rt; x_{b}then t'_{a}= t'_{b}+ gb(x_{b}-x_{a}).*Lorentz contraction*: When viewed from a reference frame moving with respect to an object along the x-axis, the length of the object in x appears shortened. The y and z lengths are unchanged.Consider a stick of length L', oriented along the x axis. In its rest frame, if one end of the stick is at x'=0, the other end is at x'=L'. In a moving frame, we must record the positions of the ends of the stick at the same instant in time, say t=0. If we say that one end is at x=0 at this time, then the position of the other end is given by L'=g(x-bt) = gx, or x = L'/g. Since g is always greater than one, the length of the stick appears shorter in the moving frame.

*Time dilation*: Suppose in frame*S'*an interval of time runs from t'=0 to t'=T' always at x'=0. How long is this interval in*S*? It starts at t=g(t' + bx') = 0, and it ends at t=gT'. Therefore the interval appears longer in the moving frame*S*, since g is always greater than one.A clock is basically a device that counts the passage of intervals. As seen from

*S*, a clock in*S'*appears to run slow. This fact is an important correction in the GPS system. Also, see how this applies in the muon decay homework problem.*Velocity addition*: Suppose an object is moving in the x direction with speed u' in*S'*. What is its speed u as measured in*S*?It travels a distance Dx = g(Dx' + b Dt') in a time Dt = g(Dt' + b Dx') so, dividing at recalling that Dx/Dt = u and Dx'/Dt' = u' yields:

u = (u' + v)/(1 + u'v/c^{2}).The numerator is the Galilean result, u = u' + v. The denominator represents the relativistic correction, and guarantees that upon addition, the resulting velocity is not greater than c.

An alternative notation is often used for the transformation. This notation makes the equations a bit more compact and easier to manipulate. It comes about by realizing that we can organize the 4-vector as a 1-column by 4-row matrix. Then the Lorentz transformation is:

x^{m} = L^{m}_{n} x^{n}

and summation over the repeated index n is implied.
Copyright © Robert Harr 2003