Relativity and quantum mechanics notes
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Relativity and Quantum Mechanics Notes. CP Physics Ms. Morrison. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Two parts – Special and General Special: deals with question of whether rest and motion are relative or absolute and the consequences that result from them being relative

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Relativity and Quantum Mechanics Notes

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Relativity and Quantum Mechanics Notes

CP Physics

Ms. Morrison


Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

  • Two parts – Special and General

  • Special: deals with question of whether rest and motion are relative or absolute and the consequences that result from them being relative

  • General: primarily applies to particles as they accelerate, is a radical revision of Newton’s theory of motion

  • Both theories have been confirmed to be accurate to a very high degree


Special Theory of Relativity (1905)

  • Speed of light, c, is a constant

    • 3 x 108 m/s

    • Does not matter the speed of the source of light, the speed of the observer, or the instrument used to measure it – always constant regardless of one’s frame of reference

  • The laws of physics are the same in any frame of reference

  • E = mc2 – mass can be converted into huge amounts of energy and huge amounts of energy are needed to create a tiny amount of matter


Special Relativity, pg 2

  • As approach speed of light:

    • Length gets shorter

    • Mass becomes greater

    • Time slows down

      • Twin paradox – a space traveler could travel at speeds close to speed of light and would return to Earth younger than his twin brother


General Theory of Relativity (1915)

  • The effect of gravitational fields cause the space-time continuum to be curved or warped by large masses

    • The more massive the object – the more it bends the space-time around it

    • Real cause of gravitational attraction

  • Gravity not only can bend light but slow it down – time dilation


General Relativity, pg 2

  • Predicted the existence of black holes

    • Because they are so massive, have very high gravity and can bend light, slow light down, and stop light from escaping

    • Can make time stand still – a space probe would appear to slow down and virtually stop as it speeds toward the event horizon of a black hole

  • One of pillars of Big Bang Theory


Uncertainty Principle

  • States: the more precisely the position of a particle is determined, the less precisely the momentum is know in this instant and vice versa

  • Sometimes stated differently – the act of measuring one magnitude of a particle, whether it is mass, velocity, or position causes the other magnitudes to blur

  • Blurring of these magnitudes is a fundamental property of nature


Uncertainty Principle, pg 2

  • 1925 – two competing mathematical theories that attempted to explain electron orbits:

    • Heisenberg developed matrix mechanics that interpreted the electron as a particle with quantum behavior – quantum jumps between energy levels

    • Schrodinger – interprets the electron as a wave

  • 1926 – Schrodinger publishes proof that shows that the two theories are equivalent – an electron is a particle that can behave like a wave


Uncertainty Principle, pg 3

  • In an experiment, though, cannot be both a wave and a particle at the same time, the experimenter must choose what to observe in the experiment

  • Notion that observer becomes part of the observed system is fundamentally new in physics – observer no longer external, through the act of the measurement he becomes part of the observed reality (he affects the system)


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