Special Relativity Extended Response (1 Viewer)

erucibon

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Q19 2007: Analyse Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity and the evidence supporting it as an application of this model of scientific method.

What points do you have to talk about for this question?
What i am thinking:
-Einstein developed the Theory of Special Relativity from application of various pieces of evidence including the Michelson Morley experiment, his thought experiments and the existing principle of relativity.
-Einstein thought through the problems with speed of light and Galilean Relativity
-For example, whether reflection will be seen in mirror at speed of light
-This led to his conclusion that the principle of relativity cannot be violated and hypothesis that the speed of light is the same for all observers and since v=s/t, distance and time must be relative
-This was experimentally supported by the Michelson Morley experiment
-The experiment had a null result, suggesting the speed of light is the same, disproving the Aether model and supporting the theory of special relativity

Thanks!
 

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blyatman

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I'm not too familiar with how relativity is taught in the new syllabus, but I'll assume it hasn't changed much. Always be extra careful when stating that the Michelson-Morley experiment is "evidence" for relativity. Einstein himself said that he didn't really factor the results of the MM experiment into account. The MM experiment had a null result, meaning it didn't prove/disprove anything, and it could be entirely plausible that the experiment was not accurate enough like they originally claimed. I guess it can be considered as "evidence" depending on how you look at it, but just be careful on how you phrase it.
 

erucibon

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I'm not too familiar with how relativity is taught in the new syllabus, but I'll assume it hasn't changed much. Always be extra careful when stating that the Michelson-Morley experiment is "evidence" for relativity. Einstein himself said that he didn't really factor the results of the MM experiment into account. The MM experiment had a null result, meaning it didn't prove/disprove anything, and it could be entirely plausible that the experiment was not accurate enough like they originally claimed. I guess it can be considered as "evidence" depending on how you look at it, but just be careful on how you phrase it.
Thanks for the quick reply!
Could I say that it supported his theory instead? I'm not sure what else could act as an 'experiment to test hypothesis' in the flowchart for the question
 

blyatman

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Relativity wasn't verified experimentally until much later. Google hafele Keating experiment, where they flew atomic clocks around the world which resulted in time dilation.
 

ShoeMat

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Q19 2007: Analyse Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity and the evidence supporting it as an application of this model of the scientific method.

So for the Analyse section, I would first state what the theory itself is.
  1. c constant in a vacuum
  2. Laws of Physics hold true in all inertial frames of reference
Then I would be thinking of the direct implications of a constant value for c.
  1. Time Dilation
  2. Length Contraction
  3. Mass Dilation
These can all be derived from Einstein's postulate of a constant c value.

Next, I would link between how physicists have employed the scientific method to test these implications of special relativity. The key sections of the scientific method we are interested in are designing a valid experiment, testing the theory, analyzing the results and drawing a conclusion. Some important experiments which verified the 'implications' colored red above were:

The Ross-Hall Experiment on muons
The Hafele-Keating atomic clock experiment

Observations from De Sitter Binary Stars
Bertozzi's electrons in particle accelerators

Obviously not all of this experimental evidence is necessary for your answer. Depending on the mark allocation you would alter the level of detail and content you decide to put in. The ones in bold are more common. I hope that helped you a bit.

Please also consider that this is how I was taught to answer this type of question and if your teacher has a different interpretation, during your school exam it is always better to follow that way.
 

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