An Introduction to String Theory

Slide 6 of 37
Special Relativity and Time Slices
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In these diagrams, our alien visitor is in a spaceship flying past the earth at very close to the speed of light; that's his almost-horizontal path in green on the right. (I've tilted the pictures here to show his point of view from high above.) His path is tilted very steeply because of his great speed relative to the room: he would move very far between each horizontal time slice from the previous slide.

Now, this is where things get a little complicated: the time slices in this diagram show his perception of time, which is clearly a little different from mine. (I won't explain here why they're tilted in exactly the way that I've shown; just trust me on this for now.) Note, in particular, that the alien would say that Violet stood up before Rhett whispered to Gary.

That's what Relativity is all about: there are some questions that have different answers when two observers are moving relative to each other.

(Yes, for those relativity experts out there, the scale is a little deceptive in this picture, but it gets the point across.)

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