This chapter is about Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which is constructed around the premise that there is a maximum speed of interaction, the speed of light, a notion that leads naturally to the unification of space and time into 4-dimensional Minkowski space. The chapter opens with a discussion of the need for a coordinate independent description of physics, invariant intervals and Lorentz transformations. The Michelson–Morley experiment is described. The coordinate transformations that describe rotations and boosts in 4-dimensional spacetime are derived. The relativistic dynamics of point particles is analysed and this leads to the identification of mass and energy. Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism are rewritten in 4-vector notation and this sheds further light on the physical content of the equations. The action principle for electromagnetism is discussed and a relativistic action for point particles is presented.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.