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

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)