Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Willet Science Center 101

The seminar for September 10 will be a discussion of a paper from the European Journal of Physics.  The abstract of the paper is shown below, along with a link to the Journal’s homepage.  The paper can be downloaded from this link, as long as it is downloaded onto a computer on the Mercer campus.  Additional copies are available from Dr. Young (email: / phone:  (478) 301-2704).

“Reinterpreting the famous train/embankment experiment of relativity,”  by Avi Nelson

[Eur. J. Phys. 24 (July 2003) 379–396]   

Abstract:  Einstein’s well-known train/embankment experiment, frequently used to introduce the relativity of simultaneity, is revisited. Though present in numerous textbooks, the traditional analysis is shown to be incomplete and inadequate to demonstrate that simultaneity is relative. Completing the analysis produces not the relativity of simultaneity in its usual form but rather a new contradiction. It is shown that, under the conditions of the experiment, a simultaneity in one inertial frame does indeed hold in another inertial frame but is perceived as a non-simultaneity by an observer outside the given frame. The source of the paradox is traced to the experiment itself, which is posited in Newtonian space–time but under Einsteinian postulates. Though crafted as an introduction to relativity, the experiment is seen, ironically, to require relativity to analyse it. The contradictions are resolved by a relativistic analysis.    
European Journal of Physics Homepage

Please join us for light refreshments outside WSC 109 at 4:15.

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Mercer Physics Department