Date Due: Wednesday, November 5, at 11 AM
** 20 Points Total **
One of the most important aspects of the scientific method is that every new
theory must not only satisfy the existing observations, but must also make
new predictions that can be tested by experiment. In this assignment you will
create a Web page in groups to explore one of the experimental consequences
or predictions of either the special or general theory of relativity.
These pages will be linked to the course page for future reference.
Groups will consist of 4 or 5 students each. You will find out who is in your group
when you come to class on Wednesday. Your group will choose from one of the
topics listed below (one group per topic), and will decide who will play
each role in the project. Each group will present their subject to the class on Wednesday,
Nov 5. Presentations will be 7 minutes long, with 2 minutes allowed for questions.
To keep the presentations from using too much time,
for every 30 seconds that the presentation goes over 7 minutes, 2 points
will be removed from the total score (you will be given a warning when your time
is nearly up). Grades will be decided as follows (each group gets a single grade):
- Content [5 pts]: Does the group seem to understand the concepts associated with
the problem? Is the research thorough and accurate?
- Presentation [5 pts]: Was enough introduction given so that the rest of the class can
follow? Did the speaker rush through the material?
Is it clear why this is important? Was the available time used wisely? Was the
Web page integrated well with the talk - i.e., were there long pauses while the
material downloaded? Was the speaker audible?
- Web Page [5 pts]: Is the Web page laid out well? Can everything be read easily?
Is the design attractive? Does it download in a reasonable amount of time?
Does everything work?
- Quantitative aspect [5 pts]: Were the equations/calculations laid out clearly
and explained well? Were the calculations correct?
Note that each of these projects has a quantitative component. That is, you will need
to calculate some numbers to discuss your subject. It is important to be clear
as to the equations you used and the results you obtained. However, the
qualitative description of the problem, its relevance and how it follows
from the theory is even more important, because this shows the extent to
which you understand the significance of the subject.
- All Members -- Help with research, either on the Web, in the Library,
or via mathematical calculation.
- Webmaster -- responsible for typing in the Web page and making sure
it works from owlnet. Coordinates with the Web designer to add links,
pictures, etc. Note that some of the Web design can be done before all the
content is decided upon.
- Web Designer-- Looks for fancy graphics/movies, colors, images, etc. that are
relevant to the problem. Coordinates with the Webmaster to implement these.
- Speakers (1 or 2 people) -- In groups of 5, two people in the group will
be designated as `speakers' (one of these will be chosen at random to give
the presentation); groups of 4 will have a single speaker.
Speakers must understand the material very well to be able to answer any questions
about the content, and must practice timing their presentations to match well
with the Web pages.
- Administrator -- Job is to make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute, that
everyone does their fair share of the work, and that the project doesn't get done
at the last minute. Sets up meeting times and sets agenda for what
will get done during each group meeting. In cases of disagreement as to who does what,
the Administrator will assign tasks [BTW, in a business setting, the Administrator/Manager
would also be the one to take the fall in the event of a bad showing...].
- Show quantitatively how muon decay is consistent with the predictions of special
relativity. Where was this experiment first carried out, and what were the results?
What is the explanation for muons at sea level from the point of view of an observer
on the ground? From the point of view of the muon?
- Consider the issue of lack of `simultaneity' in relativity. What does this
mean, why does it happen and how does it work?
- Derive the equations of time dilation and length contraction, and
explain how they work. Do some examples for everyday velocities, and also for
velocities near that of light.
- The Michelson-Morley experiment showed that the speed of light was constant
in all reference frames. Describe the experiment and show quantitatively how
- Consider the `twin paradox' -- why is it that the moving twin ends up younger?
- What would the sky look like if you were to descend onto the surface of
an extremely strong gravitational field like that around a neutron star? Explain all
the effects you see in terms of the bending of light and gravitational redshifts.