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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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Time Dilation and Length Contraction

Time Dilation and Length Contraction

(p.74) 7 Time Dilation and Length Contraction
The Elements of Relativity

David M. Wittman

Oxford University Press

In Chapter 6, we discovered that different frames mix time and space differently; in this chapter, we will discover that speed causes time to run slowly and space to contract. Of course, the truth is a bit subtler than that, because when two frames are in relative motion each frame measures the other as the high‐speed frame where time runs slowly and space contracts.We deduce time dilation and length contraction in multiple ways: first with a light clock as a thinking tool, and then with spacetime diagrams and a new thinking tool called the symmetric frame. We also examine the experimental proof of these effects. By the end of this chapter, you will understand how time dilation and length contraction fit together with time skew in a fully consistent model that beautifully fits a wide range of evidence.

Keywords:   time dilation, length contraction, Lorentz contraction, proper time, rest length, gamma, light clock, Lorentz transformation, spacetime diagram, special relativity

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