6: Einstein and Special Relativity
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(Due date: Saturday, 8/1, midnight)
Experiments with Special Relativity are quite difficult, so this week I want you to gain more background information through Nova and then investigate the twin paradox.
Steps:
Mo’ background, first!
Watch “Einstein’s Big Idea” on the NOVA site. It will be very useful! It is 1 hour and 49 minutes long, so make popcorn!
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/einstein-big-idea.html
Write a short summary (at least 1/2-page).
Discuss 3 things from the video you found most interesting or to be most important.
Discuss 2 things you didn’t quite understand, and describe what information you think you would need to better understand them.
Pose 1 question regarding special relativity or cosmology to Einstein.
Go to the simulation of the twin paradox on NOVA.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/einstein/hotsciencetwin/
Determine the problem: Consider the age difference between two twins (here, the Captain and the Major), one traveling near the speed of light relative to the other.
Read the instructions and the experiments, and develop hypotheses:
First run (the simple instructions): How will their age differ after the journey? (Who will be older?)
Second run (change the speed of the spaceship): Keeping the destination star the same as in the first run, how will the difference in age change as the speed increases from the smallest limit allowed in the simulation to the greatest?
Third run (change the destination star): Keeping the speed the same as in the first run, how will the age difference change as the journey distance increases from the smallest limit allowed in the simulation to the greatest?

Repeat the first run, but add the refrigerator to the top of the crate by dragging it there. Compare the results to the first run. (Don’t forget to record the mass!)
Test your hypotheses. (You may want to make a table for your data.)