In physics, special relativity (SR, also known as the special theory of relativity or STR) is an accepted physical theory about the fundamental nature of space and time. It is based on two postulates: (1) that the laws of physics are invariant (i.e., identical) in all inertial systems (non-accelerating frames of reference); and (2) that the speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers, regardless of the motion of the observer relative to the light source. It was originally proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein in the paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies". The inconsistency of Newton’s Laws with Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism led to the development of special relativity, which expands upon (and corrects) Newton’s Laws to situations involving motions nearing the speed of light.
Special relativity implies a wide range of consequences, which have been experimentally verified, including length contraction, time dilation, relativistic mass, mass–energy equivalence, and relativity of simultaneity. It has replaced the classical notion of invariant time interval for two events with the notion of invariant spacetime interval. Combined with other laws of physics, the two postulates of special relativity predict the equivalence of mass and energy, as expressed in the mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, where c is the speed of light in vacuum.
In thermodynamics, a state function, function of state, state quantity, or state variable is a property of a system that depends only on the current state of the system, not on the way in which the system acquired that state (independent of path). A state function describes the equilibrium state of a system. For example, internal energy, enthalpy, and entropy are state quantities because they describe quantitatively an equilibrium state of a thermodynamic system, irrespective of how the system arrived in that state. In contrast, mechanical work and heat are process quantities because their values depend on the specific transition (or path) between two equilibrium states.
The opposite of a state function is a path function.
In physics, classical mechanics and quantum mechanics are the two major sub-fields of mechanics. Classical mechanics is concerned with the set of physical laws describing the motion of bodies under the action of a system of forces. The study of the motion of bodies is an ancient one, making classical mechanics one of the oldest and largest subjects in science, engineering and technology.
Classical mechanics describes the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of machinery, as well as astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars, and galaxies. Besides this, many specializations within the subject deal with gases, liquids, solids, and other specific sub-topics. Classical mechanics provides extremely accurate results as long as the domain of study is restricted to large objects and the speeds involved do not approach the speed of light. When the objects being dealt with become sufficiently small, it becomes necessary to introduce the other major sub-field of mechanics, quantum mechanics, which reconciles the macroscopic laws of physics with the atomic nature of matter and handles the wave–particle duality of atoms and molecules. However, when both quantum mechanics and classical mechanics cannot apply, such as at the quantum level with many degrees of freedom, quantum field theory (QFT) becomes applicable. QFT deals with small distances and large speeds with many degrees of freedom as well as the possibility of any change in the number of particles throughout the interaction. To deal with large degrees of freedom at the macroscopic level, statistical mechanics becomes valid. Statistical mechanics explores the large number of particles and their interactions as a whole in everyday life. Statistical mechanics is mainly used in thermodynamics. In the case of high velocity objects approaching the speed of light, classical mechanics is enhanced by special relativity. General relativity unifies special relativity with Newton's law of universal gravitation, allowing physicists to handle gravitation at a deeper level.
In physics, mass–energy equivalence is the concept that the mass of an object or system is a measure of its energy content. For instance, adding 25 kilowatt-hours (90 megajoules) of any form(s) of energy to any object increases its mass by 1 microgram. If you had a sensitive enough mass balance or scale, this mass increase of the object could be verified.
A physical system has a property called energy and a corresponding property called mass; the two properties are equivalent in that they are always both present in the same (i.e. constant) proportion to one another. Mass–energy equivalence arose originally from special relativity, as developed by Albert Einstein, who proposed this equivalence in 1905 in one of his papersAnnus Mirabilis entitled "Does the inertia of an object depend upon its energy content?" The equivalence is described by the famous equation:
The speed of light in vacuum, commonly denoted c, is a universal physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its value is exactly 299,792,458 metres per second, a figure that is exact because the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time. This is approximately 186,282.4 miles per second, or about 671 million miles per hour. According to special relativity, c is the maximum speed at which all energy, matter, and information in the universe can travel. It is the speed at which all massless particles and associated fields (including electromagnetic radiation such as light) travel in vacuum. It is also the speed of gravity (i.e. of gravitational waves) predicted by current theories. Such particles and waves travel at c regardless of the motion of the source or the inertial frame of reference of the observer. In the theory of relativity, c interrelates space and time, and also appears in the famous equation of mass–energy equivalence E = mc2.
The speed at which light propagates through transparent materials, such as glass or air, is less than c. The ratio between c and the speed v at which light travels in a material is called the refractive index n of the material (n = c / v). For example, for visible light the refractive index of glass is typically around 1.5, meaning that light in glass travels at c / 1.5 ≈ 200,000 km/s; the refractive index of air for visible light is 1.000293, so the speed of light in air is 299,705 km/s or about 88 km/s slower than c.
Mass in special relativity incorporates the general understandings from the concept of mass-energy equivalence. Added to this concept is an additional complication resulting from the fact that "mass" is defined in two different ways in special relativity: one way defines mass ("rest mass" or "invariant mass") as an invariant quantity which is the same for all observers in all reference frames; in the other definition, the measure of mass ("relativistic mass") is dependent on the velocity of the observer.
The term mass in special relativity usually refers to the rest mass of the object, which is the Newtonian mass as measured by an observer moving along with the object. The invariant mass is another name for the rest mass of single particles. The more general invariant mass (calculated with a more complicated formula) loosely corresponds to the "rest mass" of a "system". Thus, invariant mass is a natural unit of mass used for systems which are being viewed from their center of momentum frame (COM frame), as when any closed system (for example a bottle of hot gas) is weighed, which requires that the measurement be taken in the center of momentum frame where the system has no net momentum. Under such circumstances the invariant mass is equal to the relativistic mass (discussed below), which is the total energy of the system divided by c (the speed of light) squared.
The Larmor formula is used to calculate the total power radiated by a non relativistic point charge as it accelerates or decelerates. This is used in the branch of physics known as electrodynamics and is not to be confused with the Larmor precession from classical nuclear magnetic resonance. It was first derived by J. J. Larmor in 1897, in the context of the wave theory of light.
When any charged particle (such as an electron, a proton, or an ion) accelerates, it radiates away energy in the form of electromagnetic waves. For velocities that are small relative to the speed of light, the total power radiated is given by the Larmor formula: