This web site is a basic, non-mathematical introduction to relativity, built around the framework of Flash media files with narration and animations. Einstein Light explores concepts from Galileo, Newton, and Maxwell through Einstein and special relativity. The site also introduces modern topics such as binding energies in the nucleus and the relationship between gravity and quantum mechanics. Background information is provided in 30 detailed pages, organized by topic and level of mathematics required for understanding. Questions are also available to assess student comprehension.
9-12: 4F/H2. All motion is relative to whatever frame of reference is chosen, for there is no motionless frame from which to judge all motion.
9-12: 4F/H3a. When electrically charged objects undergo a change in motion, they produce electromagnetic waves around them.
9-12: 4F/H3c. In empty space, all electromagnetic waves move at the same speed—the "speed of light."
9-12: 4F/H5ab. The observed wavelength of a wave depends upon the relative motion of the source and the observer. If either is moving toward the other, the observed wavelength is shorter; if either is moving away, the wavelength is longer.
10. Historical Perspectives
10C. Relating Matter & Energy and Time & Space
9-12: 10C/H1. As a young man, Albert Einstein, a German scientist, formulated the special theory of relativity, which brought about revolutionary changes in human understanding of nature. Among the counterintuitive ideas of special relativity is that the speed of light is the same for all observers no matter how they or the light source happen to be moving. In addition, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
9-12: 10C/H3. The special theory of relativity is best known for stating that any form of energy has mass, and that matter itself is a form of energy. Even a tiny amount of matter holds an enormous amount of energy. This relationship is described in the famous relativity equation E = mc2, in which the c in the equation stands for the immense speed of light.
9-12: 10C/H4. A decade after Einstein developed the special theory of relativity, he proposed the general theory of relativity, which pictures Newton's gravitational force as a distortion of space and time.
9-12: 10C/H5. Einstein's development of the theories of special and general relativity ranks as one of the greatest human accomplishments in all of history. Many predictions from the theories have been confirmed on both atomic and astronomical scales. Still, the search continues for an even more powerful theory of the architecture of the universe.
9-12: 10C/H6. Under everyday situations, most of the predictions of special relativity are nearly identical to those of classical mechanics. The more counterintuitive predictions of special relativity occur in situations that humans do not typically experience.
11. Common Themes
9-12: 11B/H1a. A mathematical model uses rules and relationships to describe and predict objects and events in the real world.
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