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Problem Set 12

Physics 1116 Fall 2015

Due: Fri, 11/20/2015

1. K&K, Problem 12.12, Headlight effect

2. Train spotter. Consider a train car (frame S 0 ) with two clocks as shown below. In
the S 0 frame the two clocks are a distance L apart and perfectly synchronized. The
two clocks are labelled F (front) and R (rear).


Now consider a train station platform (frame S) that has two cameras set up as
shown below. The two cameras are triggered by some electronics in the green box so
that they take pictures simultaneously in the frame S. The cameras are labelled F
(front) and R (rear).

In the frame S the train is travelling to the right (+
x) with a speed v. The cameras
have been located so that as the train passes each camera will each be aligned with
the corresponding clock (F or R) so that it can photograph the time shown on that
Here is the view from the station platform (S) when the train passes and the cameras
snap their pictures:

Afterwards we look at the two photographs. Lets say the picture from the F camera
shows that the F clock is reading t0 = 0. What do we see when we look at the picture
from the R camera? (The sign, , is important.)
3. K&K, Problem 12.16 - Pole-vaulter paradox You may find the Minkowski diagrams
4. Write up problem. In this problem, you will solve the famous twin paradox. Zan
stays on Earth (which we will assume stays at rest at x = 0), while Jayna boards a
rocket. The rocket leaves at Earth at t = 0 and travels at a constant speed v = 0.8c
to their homeworld, Exxor, which is exactly 4 light-years away. Upon reaching Exxor,
Jayna turns the rocket around instantaneously and returns back to Earth at the same
speed 0.8c.
During the trip, Zan sees Jaynas clock on the rocket running slowly by a factor
relative to his clock on Earth. However, Jayna also observes Zans clock on Earth
running slowly by relative to her own clock. However, upon returning to Earth,
Jayna discovers to her shock that Zan has aged 4 more years than she has. Given
that each twin saw the others clock running slowly relative to their own clock, how
could Zan have aged more than Jayna when they reunite on Earth?
(a) Start by drawing a Minkowski space-time diagram of the outbound leg of the
journey (with Zans frame along the normal perpendicular axes and Jaynas frame
along the skewed x0 ct0 axes). Consider that leg of the trip from Jaynas perspective. With respect to Jaynas frame, how much has (i) her own clock advanced and
(ii) Zans clock advanced just barely before she arrives at Exxor?
(b) Now draw a new Minkowski diagram representing both the inbound component
of the journey (hint : for the inbound journey, Jaynas ct0 x0 axes should now make
an angle greater than 90 ). Now draw a space-time diagram that has both outbound
and inbound legs, and then draw lines of constant t0 (every year). You should find
that something very unusual happens right at the turnaround point.
(c) Lets now assume that each twins clock emits a radio signal (which travels at c)
which can be detected by the other twin. The radio emits its signal once a year (on
January 1st, in the frame of each respective clock). Now draw a space-time diagram
(x ct) of the trip viewed from Zans perspective. Draw the yearly radio pulses sent
by Zan, and show where they are received by Jayna.

(d) On the same diagram, draw the yearly radio pulses sent by Jayna, and show
where they are received by Zan. Explain why Jayna ages 4 years less than Zan.