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PHYS 212-071

Solution to HW-2
(Numbers refer to 2nd Edition)
Q9. Give a physical argument to show that it is impossible to accelerate an object of mass
m to the speed of light, even with a continuous force acting on it.
A9. There is probably more than one way to phrase the answer to this question. One way
is to say that it requires an infinite amount of work by the force to achieve the desired
speed, in other words it is impossible to accelerate a particle of finite mass m to the
speed of light.
Q11. Because mass is a measure of energy, can we conclude that a compressed spring has
more mass than the same spring when it is not compressed? On the basis of your answer,
which has more mass, a spinning planet or an otherwise identical but nonspinning planet?
A11. Since mass is proportional to the total energy, the compressed spring would have
more mass than the uncompressed one because of the added elastic potential energy.
Similarly a rotating planet would have more mass than a similar nonrotating planet
because of the added rotational kinetic energy.
(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass-energy_equivalence for more details on this
subject)
Q13. What happens to the density of an object as its speed increases, as measured by an
Earth observer?
A13. Since the mass of the object increases and its volume decreases, its density will
increase as seen by an Earth observer.
Pb7. How fast must a meter stick be moving if its length is observed to shrink to 0.5 m?
Sol7. Let L0 be the proper length of the meter stick and let v be the speed with which it
is moving with respect to a fixed reference frame. Its length L as measured in this
reference frame is L
Since

L0

L
v2

1 2 L0 . Solving for v , we get v 1

c
L0

c.

L
1
, we have v 0.866 c
L0
2

Pb22. An observer on Earth observes two spacecrafts moving in the same direction
toward the Earth. Space craft A appears to have a speed of 0.50 c , and spacecraft B
appears to have a speed of 0.80 c . What is the speed of spacecraft A measured by an
observer in spacecraft B.
Sol22. To solve this problem we need only use the Lorentz transformation for the
velocities. Let v 0.50 c be the speed of spacecraft A and let V 0.80 c be the

speed of a reference frame moving with spacecraft B. The speed v of spacecraft A


measured by the moving reference frame is
v V
v
0.5 c
v V
1 2
c
Pb31. Show that the momentum of a particle having charge e moving in a circle of
radius R in a magnetic field B is given by p 300 BR , where p is in MeV/c, B is in
teslas, and R is in meters.

Sol31. Let p mv be the momentum of the particle. Since the particle is moving in a
circle under the influence of a magnetic field B , its speed is constant and the only
acceleration is the centripetal acceleration. We have

dp

d
dv
dv
v2
v
v
mv m F m
F

m
mv p
dt
dt
dt
dt
R
R
R

On the other hand, the Lorentz force


actingthe particle is

F ev B F evB

We used the fact that the particle is moving at right angle with respect to the magnetic
field. Equating the two expressions for the force F , we get
p

is

the

speed

of

v
ceBR
evB p eBR
,
R
c

light.

Notice

that

the

units

of

ceBR are

m / s C T m C m / s T m N m J , where use has been made of the

Lorentz magnetic force formula. On the other hand, since 1 eV = 1.6 x 10 -19 J, and since e
eV
. Since c 3 10 8 m/s and since

= 1.6 x 10-19 C, the formula for p becomes p cBR


MeV
c

1 MeV = 106 eV, we get p 300 BR

Pb41. A noted in section 1.8, the quantity E 2 p 2 c 2 is an invariant in relativistic theory.


This means that the quantity E 2 p 2 c 2 has the same value in all inertial frames even
though E and p have different values in f=different frames. Show this explicitly by
considering the following case. A particle of mass m is moving in the x direction with
speed v and has momentum p and energy E in the frame S. (a) If S is moving with speed
V in the standard way, find the momentum p and energy E observed in S. Is E = E and
p = p? (b) Show that E 2 p 2 c 2 is explicitly equal to

E 2 p2c2

Sol41. Let E and p be the energy and momentum of the particle of proper mass m in the
frame S. We have E mc 2 and p mv . One can easily show that E 2 p 2 c 2 m 2 c 4 .
Let E and p be the energy and momentum of the same particle as seen in a frame S. We
have:

(a)
v

mc 2
v 2
1 2
c

v V
vV
1 2
c

mc 2

1 v V
1 2
vV
c
1 2
c

mv
v 2
1 2
c

v V

m
vV

1 2
c

1 v V
vV
c2
1 2
c

(b) Upon squaring and subtracting we get

v V

1 vV 2
c

m2c 4 m2c 2
E 2 p2c 2

1 v V
1 2
c vV
1 2
c

QED

m 2c 4