Science · Level 3

3.2 Special Relativity

Get up to (light) speed on Einstein's theory of relativity.

Made in collaboration with

MinutePhysics

Relative Motion of Observers

Propagation of Light

The Mystery of the Luminiferous Aether

Einstein's Postulates

Derive: Lorentz Transformations

Length Contraction & Time Dilation

Relativistic Laser Tag

Cosmic Ray Muons

Spacetime Intervals and Causality

Chimp Twin Paradox

Rotations in Spacetime

Plight of the ABC Jungle Fruit

Superluminal Observations

UFO Encounter

Four-Velocity

Energy-Momentum Conservation

High-Energy Particles

Photons


Course description

This course was written in collaboration with Aaron Miller, a PhD in physics from Penn State University, and was integrated into a YouTube video series on MinutePhysics. Beginning with famous thought experiments and a few intuitive principles from Newtonian mechanics, this course closely follows Einstein's arguments leading to the epiphany that time and space are a single entity, spacetime, where physical processes unfold. After gaining experience with the mathematical machinery of relativistic physics, you will open the door to high-energy phenomena and Einstein's famous relationship, E = mc². In the end this course will boost you to the cusp of the most elegant of physical theories: general relativity.


Topics covered

  • 4-vectors
  • Lorentz Transformations
  • Mass-energy Equivalence
  • Spacetime Paradoxes
  • Particle Physics
  • Reference Frames
  • Spacetime Curvature
  • Spacetime Diagrams
  • Spacetime Intervals
  • Time Dilation

Prerequisites and next steps

You’ll need a fundamental understanding of Newtonian mechanics.


Prerequisites

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Science · Level 4

4.1 Solar Energy

Learn the physics of energy harvesting from our most renewable source, the Sun.

Jump ahead