Evidence for special relativity

Einstein’s theory of special relativity was proposed many years before experimental verification. These slides briefly outline the timeline of special relativity and provide some general comments on scientific laws and theories.

Keynote slides


Length contraction and mass dilation

These slides provide an overview of length contraction and mass dilation – both of which are further consequences of special relativity. No thought experiment is provided for either. A brief history of the definition of the metre (including modern definition) is also given.

Keynote slides

Simultaneity and time dilation

Cesium clock

When moving at high velocities, our perception of time is changed. Time moves slower. Events which are perceived to be simultaneous in one frame of reference, may not appear so from another frame of reference.

These slides present a (handwaving) overview of simultaneity and time dilation. The concepts of rest and moving frames are also introduced. Note that students are not required to recall the derivation of these equations.

Keynote slides

Relativity and special relativity

If you were inside a train that was moving steadily at the speed of light, would you see your reflection in a mirror? Einstein pondered this question, and it’s implications for the well established concept of relativity. His subsequent theory became known as special relativity (published in 1905).

These slides outline relativity, inertial and non-inertial frames of reference, before introducing Einstein’s special relativity. The consequences of special relativity are also mentioned.

Keynote slides

Aether and the Michelson Morley Experiment

The majority of the scientific community throughout the 1800 assumed the existence of a medium for light to propagate, called the ‘luminiferous aether’. The existence of aether was famously disproved through the null result of an experiment conducted by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley in 1887.

These slides outline the Michelson Morley experiment and the properties of the luminiferous aether.

Keynote Slides


These slides outline the difficulties associated with orbital decay and the safe re-entry of spacecraft, including the ionisation blackout, approach angle and excess heat.

Keynote Slides