Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union

By Loren R. Graham | Go to book overview
Save to active project

IV Relativity Theory

The special theory of relativity (STR), as elaborated by Einstein, flows from two postulates: (1) the principle of relativity, which asserts that physical processes occurring in a closed system are unaffected by non- accelerated motion of the system as a whole, and (2) the principle that the velocity of light is independent of the velocity of its source. The first postulate was accepted in classical mechanics long before Einstein, and is perhaps best illustrated by comparing physical phenomena, such as falling objects, in two different inertial systems (systems within which bodies unaffected by outside forces move at constant speed in straight lines). If a given inertial system is moving at a constant velocity in a straight line relative to another given system, then the laws of mechanics must have the same form in both systems. The common illustration of this relationship is the fact that to an observer in a train moving at a constant velocity, a falling object describes a path identical to the one he would see if he and the object were on the ground. To an observer alongside the moving train, however, the falling object in the train describes a parabola. In this case, a transformation from one reference system to another has been made, and in accordance with classical mechanics, the Galilean transformation equations would provide the means of plotting the equation of the parabola from data obtained from inside the railroad car.1

Einstein in his development of STR extended the principle of relativity to cover electromagnetic phenomena as well as mechanical ones. This extension necessitated the derivation of new transformation equa


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 607

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?