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The Elements of Relativity$
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David M. Wittman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658633

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199658633.001.0001

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A First Look at Relativity

A First Look at Relativity

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 A First Look at Relativity
Source:
The Elements of Relativity
Author(s):

David M. Wittman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199658633.003.0001

The heart of relativity is the supposition that the laws of physics are the same in all coordinate systems. This chapter builds a foundation by defining coordinate systems (also called frames of reference or simply frames) and examining some quantities that are coordinate‐dependent and others that are coordinate‐independent; the latter turn out to be more physically meaningful. Galileo first considered relationships between coordinate systems moving at different veloCities; in modern terms this could relate a coordinate system attached to the ground to one attached to a moving train. Given your velocity relative to the train, and the train‐ground relative velocity, Galileo developed a law for inferring your velocity relative to the ground. If this Galilean velocity addition law is correct, there are profound implications: nature must have no speed limit, and the laws of motion must be the same in any constant‐velocity frame.

Keywords:   principle of relativity, Galileo, Galilean relativity, symmetry, velocity, velocity addition, coordinate system, coordinate independence

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