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Special Relativity
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An essential part of Modern physics is Special Relativity. The following applets are designed to help address some critical points in a student's understanding about this fascinating topic. Most are still under development and many have accompanying lesson plans and ancillary files. You can view them from here but will need to go to the downloads page to download these applets.

The Michelson-Morley Experiment


This applet presents a historical recreation of the Michelson-Morley experiment in which the existence of the ether was disproved. . Run Applet
Android and iOS apps available! Go to GooglePlay or iTunes

Muon Decay
Users can recreate the famous Rossi-Hall experiment from 1940. They will compare the muon flux at different points of the atmosphere as the unstable subatomic particles travel to earth.
Run Applet

Android and iOS apps available! Go to GooglePlay or iTunes


Photon Clock

This applet helps to visualize what time dilation is and why it happens. By measuring time with the very precise and accurate photon clock, users can see first hand the effects of moving a clock has on time. Run Applet
Android and iOS apps available! Go to GooglePlay or iTunes

Spacetime Diagrams
This applet follows a rocket as it travels at speeds near the speed of light. Using a printable graph, users can draw the path the rocket takes, then compare how time has passed for members inside and outside of the rocket. Run Applet spacetime diagram 1 frame
Spacetime diagrams in more than one reference frame is a useful drawing tool. Users can draw and compare events in two different reference frames on a printable graph and observe why the Lorentz contraction, time dilation and other effects occur. Run Applet spacetime 2 frames

simultaneityV2.swf This expository applet works through two examples of simultaneous events occurring in different reference frames. Users will see worked examples using the above spacetime diagrams in order to understand that the velocity of a reference frame affects simultaneity. Run Applet

Another useful drawing tool, the four-momentum applet helps users to see how four-momentum is conserved in moving reference frames by drawing four-vectors on a printable graph. Run Applet four momentum. swf
Mass-Energy Equivalence
This applet can be used to illustrate Einstein's September 1905 paper in which mass-energy equivalence is established. Links to original source literature as well as an adapted version of Einstein's paper are also included. Run Applet
Android and iOS apps available! Go to GooglePlay or iTunes
Synchronized Clocks
This applet explains what is meant by the term "synchronized" in special relativity and demonstrates how time dilation implies length contraction. Run Applet
Android and iOS apps available! Go to GooglePlay or iTunes

open synch clocks

Length Contraction and Appearance of Relativistic Objects
open synch clocks

For decades after the original 1905 paper in which length contraction was discussed physicists had a completely wrong notion of what fast moving objects would look like. This applet explores the difference between shape and perceived shape for relativistic objects.. Run Applet

Doppler Effect and Appearance of a Relativistic Clock
This applet explores the relativistic Doppler effect and what a moving clock would "look like" to an observer. Run Applet
© The King's Centre for Visualization in Science