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The Elements of Relativity$
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David M. Wittman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658633

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199658633.001.0001

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The Equivalence Principle

The Equivalence Principle

(p.166) 13 The Equivalence Principle
The Elements of Relativity

David M. Wittman

Oxford University Press

The equivalence principle is an important thinking tool to bootstrap our thinking from the inertial coordinate systems of special relativity to the more complex coordinate systems that must be used in the presence of gravity (general relativity). The equivalence principle posits that at a given event gravity accelerates everything equally, so gravity is equivalent to an accelerating coordinate system.This conjecture is well supported by precise experiments, so we explore the consequences in depth: gravity curves the trajectory of light as it does other projectiles; the effects of gravity disappear in a freely falling laboratory; and gravitymakes time runmore slowly in the basement than in the attic—a gravitational form of time dilation. We show how this is observable via gravitational redshift. Subsequent chapters will build on this to show how the spacetime metric varies with location.

Keywords:   equivalence principle, gravitational redshift, time dilation, freely falling, gravity, general relativity, deflection of light

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