Spring 2005 ASTR 2030 Homepage
Spring 2005 ASTR 2030 Midterm Review
This midterm will test Special Relativity.
This means Thorne Ch 1,
and everything we went through on Special Relativity in class.
You should find the
Special Relativity
website useful.
Check out the
weekly summaries,
and the
clicker questions.
The midterm will be a 50 minute test.
It will consist of multiple choice questions,
plus some spacetime diagrams to fill in.
Review Questions

Electromagnetism.
What role did electromagnetism play in leading up to the
Theory of Special Relativity?
What are electromagnetic waves?

History.
Contrast the contributions of Lorentz, Poincaré, and Einstein
to the historical development of the Theory of Special Relativity.

Postulates of Special Relativity.
What are the postulates of special relativity?
Which postulate or postulates distinguish special relativity
from its predecessor, classical Galilean space and time?
What is an inertial frame?

Spacetime Diagram.
What is a spacetime diagram?
On a spacetime diagram,
draw possible worldlines of an object.
Draw possible worldlines of light.
What is the lightcone, and why is it socalled?
Draw a line which is neither a worldline of an object nor a wordline of light;
what do such lines represent?

Lorentz Transformation.
What is a Lorentz transformation?
What happens to a spacetime diagram
when it is subjected to a Lorentz transformation?

Simultaneity.
What does it mean in special relativity for two events to be simultaneous?
Describe a practical method by which simultaneity
can be defined in special relativity.
Draw lines of simultaneity on a spacetime diagram.
How do these lines change for observers with different
velocities relative to each other?

Time Dilation.
On a spacetime diagram,
show how two people moving relative to each other can
both consider each other's clock to run slow.

Lorentz Contraction.
On a spacetime diagram,
show how two people moving relative to each other can
both consider each other's ruler to be contracted.

Twin paradox.
What is the twin paradox?
Explain the twin paradox with the help of a spacetime diagram.

What things actually look like at relativistic speeds.
Why are you not normally aware of relativistic effects?
If you move through a scene at relativistic speeds,
do you see objects whizzing by simply Lorentzcontracted and timedilated?
Answer: No, the because of the light travel time.
Explain how light travel time affects appearances.
Give an account of the rules of relativistic perspective:
draw the scene on a celestial sphere,
stretch the celestial sphere into a celestial ellipsoid,
and place the observer at a focus of the celestial ellipsoid.
Give an account of the 4 relativistic effects:
(a) aberration;
(b) redshifting and blueshifting;
(c) dimming and brightening;
(d) the apparent rate at which clocks tick.

Superluminal motion.
Blobs are seen to emerge from the nucleus of the quasar 3C273
at about 8 times the speed of light.
Does this contradict special relativity? Explain.
The blobs are thought to be part of a jet powered by a black hole
at the center of the galaxy housing the quasars,
and that there is a second jet emerging in the exact opposite direction
from the jet that we see.
Why do we not see the second jet?

The Spacetime Wheel.
What is the invariant spacetime distance between two events
on a spacetime diagram?
How does the invariant spacetime distance change
under a Lorentz transformation?
How does the spacetime distance differ from the ordinary
distance between two points in 3dimensional space?
What is proper time?
What is proper distance?
How are proper time and proper distance related to the invariant spacetime distance?
When an ordinary wheel rotates, the angle of the wheel about its axis changes.
When the spacetime wheel rotates, what is happening?
Updated 2005 Jan 30