Chapter 7. Special relativity

Chapter 7. Special relativity


The theory of Special Relativity, formulated by Einstein in 1905, is based on the postulate that the laws of physics are the same regardless of the state of motion of the observer, so long as it is uniform. This is known as the Principle of Relativity, from which there follow many strange effects. While these behaviors seem paradoxical, they make perfectly good sense when seen as a result of the way fields behave, whether they be quantum fields or classical fields.

  • Objects contract when moving because motion affects the interaction of fields that hold the object together. Space itself contracts because space is made of fields.
  • Things happen more slowly in a moving system because the interacting fields must travel a greater distance (despite the contraction).
  • Nothing can go faster than light because everything is made of fields that propagate at a finite rate determined by the field equations.
  • Mass increases with speed because mass means resistance to acceleration and acceleration beyond the speed of lightis impossible.

I call this the bottom-up approach. Although most physicists prefer to start with the Principle of Relativity, the bottom-up method provides insight into why these strange things happen. Even the Principle of Relativity follows from the bottom-up approach.

Either way, one must cope with a Rashomon reality in which observers in differently-moving systems see the same reality in different ways.  Rashomon reality is very confusing, and is best left to the physicists to deal with.