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md65536 last won the day on December 15 2020

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  1. Yes, but gravitational potential is a Newtonian thing, and that applies (always) in a Newtonian analysis. I was going to use gravity assist / planet flyby as an example of how an object can climb out of a gravity well using less energy, in a changing gravitational field. However, in Newtonian physics, the planet's gravitational force acting on the object equals the force of the object acting on the planet, and the object still uses the same energy to climb, it just gets it from the planet. So it's not the case that a dynamic system alone breaks gravitational potential's path independence. GR is a different system, and I don't understand where and how the analogy to gravitational potential fails. But for example, I read that if you separate two masses, the GR analog to gravitational potential depends on if the masses are spinning, but the Newtonian gravitational potential doesn't.
  2. A light-like path has a geometric length of zero, so all events on a given light cone should have a geometric (hyper)volume of zero. The interior of the cone would have positive volume (by choice of convention) or a time-like volume. The elsewhere would have negative or spacelike volume. The union of multiple light cones should have zero volume.* So for example if you have a light on the train, and turn it on at the beginning of the train's "life" and off at the end, then the geometric volume of all parts of the train that are lit over its entire life, is 0. If you consider only the lit part of the train (chop off everything outside the "light on" event's future light cone, and everything inside the "light off" event's future light cone), the train's entire existence has 0 geometric volume. Am I thinking about that reasonably? If so, I'm not sure if an invariant volume would make sense. It seems like a long-lived train, treated as a bunch of time-like world lines, should have a time-like volume. Or could you add up all the time-like world lines and get a different volume? * Or... did I make a mistake here? Maybe you can't just add up two light cones, because there are space-like intervals between events on the different cones, but then there are also time-like ones... Now I really don't see what a geometric volume could possibly mean.
  3. I mean between two events. I'm reasoning that if two clocks are identical except for their histories (basically, same place, time, and speed), they must tick at the same rate, and have the same time dilation factor relative to some distant clock. Therefore the time dilation factor between two clocks can't depend on "how the clocks got there" (I'm generalizing), yet a calculation of something representing gravitational potential, could. I've never heard of the virial theorem. It looks not basic enough for me. I should look at the derivation but I'd probably give up after getting lost at the top of page 1.
  4. But there is a unique single value gravitational time dilation factor between two points (in your example at least). Elsewhere on the web I see that gravitational potential represents the metric only as an analogy. Then the resolution might be that "gravitational time dilation is determined by the metric," while it's not always applicable that "gravitational time dilation is determined by gravitational potential"?
  5. Resurrecting this idea, that I never ended up wrapping my head around... Say we use a mountain as an analogy for an arbitrary spacetime. There's a clock at the top. Two travellers each transport a clock down the mountain along different routes, and meet at the bottom. There, they generally find their clocks have aged differently, but the two clocks, together at relative rest, are now ticking at the same rate. Their clocks tick at a different rate from the clock at the top, but of course the two clocks at the bottom share the same time dilation factor relative to the one at the top. Therefore there must be a scalar number that relates the two locations, that is independent of any differences in how spacetime is curved along the different paths between the two. In this analogy, "height" works as that single scalar, and gravitational potential is meaningful. Is there another such scalar that relates two locations in an arbitrary spacetime, or is it just the "time dilation factor", and that factor isn't completely determined by any other scalar factor alone? Or, is it that gravitational potential loses meaning only where there aren't worldlines between the two locations? Or to ask in a different way, if you have two particles in freefall with different velocities, that pass through some one event and later pass at some second event, is gravitational potential certainly meaningful along their respective freefall paths, and if so is it the same along both paths, no matter how asymmetric the spacetime is?
  6. 2*sqrt(2) cm is the length of the square inscribed in the circles, which should make it easier to figure out.
  7. I agree. Interesting that you reasoned it out right from the start, and transferred the events from the train to the tracks, at rest in their frame. Was that essential to the reasoning, or just because that's what the question asked? (If I could redo the question, I'd make them ships in space without the tracks, but would that make the question harder to reason?) Reciprocality should become pretty intuitive given the first postulate, it seems like a major prerequisite to understanding relativistic effects.
  8. Yes, they're 100 m apart in the train's frame. The strikes / tunnel can't be 1 m in the track frame unless that 1 m expands to 100 m in the train's frame, which it doesn't. Yes, I used 'abstract' incorrectly. It's the added object (like a ruler, train platform, extra tunnel etc.), used to conceptualize the distance, that's abstract.
  9. Err, too boring? Or not intuitive enough? How about, "What proper length of tracks is contracted to 100 m in the train's frame, if the train with a proper length of 100 m is contracted to 1 m in the track's frame?"
  10. What is the length of a line segment that connects line A at point p, to line B? Is it one or more of a,b,c,d,e, or something else? If line A represented the world line of the front of a train, and B the world line of the back of the train, what is the length of the train? This doesn't even illustrate length contraction or the rules of relativity. I think you're missing some basic geometry in what you're asking.
  11. "One timeline" is meaningless to me. t' inside t is also meaningless... you're effectively asking if the time measured by one clock is inside the time measured by another clock. But you could say that if Bob leaves the train at 2050 and returns to it at 2100, its world line between those events is within the future light cone of the train in 2050, and the past light cone in 2100, and that's what you want: all observers agree that Bob's trip happened after the 2050 event and before the 2100 event. However, if Bob didn't start/end near the train and was always far enough away, that's not true for all observers. As well, Bob's cousin Babs, who suppose shares Bob's inertial frame and clock for an inertial part of Bob's trip, but was in the Andromeda galaxy during proper time interval t', is completely outside the light cones mentioned, so in that sense t' is not "inside" t, and far away events occurring at proper time t' can be before, during, or after (depending on frame of reference) the t interval from 2050 to 2100. Yes, the block universe has one time dimension, but you can choose it in different ways (as MigL said, "You can have many different 'foliations' of the 4D hypercube, and all are equally valid.") If you have the block universe in coordinates so that the front of the train is always at the same location with one x value, its world line is a straight line aligned with the T axis. But you can rotate (hyperbolicly) the block universe so that Bob's world line is now aligned with the new T' axis, and the train front's world line span different x' values. This doesn't imply multiple universes, blocks, trains etc. any more than someone in Russia having a different vector pointing "up" than someone in Argentina, implies that there are multiple Earths. Say they each have a y-axis that points "up", you have one Earth described using 2 different sets of coordinates, each more appropriate than the other to some observer.
  12. I was thinking about this as an example for another thread but thought it would only add confusion. Say you have a train with proper length 100 m, traveling so fast that it contracts to 1 m according to the tracks' reference frame. Suppose that in the train's frame, lightning strikes the front and back of the train simultaneously. How far apart are the lightning strikes on the track? Can anyone answer this with just a few seconds thought? I can't, I have to figure out the details and calculations, but if I ask a different question... They're the same question, but only one seems intuitively obvious.
  13. There are events on the those same 2 world lines that are 100 m apart to that observer, yes. They're on the same world lines, but they're not the same pair of events that are 1 m apart in Bob's frame. The two observers use different time coordinates, and 2 events at the same t and 100 m apart in the train's frame, don't have the same t' value in Bob's frame. The 1 m length of the train that Bob measures is between 2 events on the respective world lines with the same t' value. This is "relativity of simultaneity." Using world lines instead of lengths isn't going to change the details of the simpler examples you're using them to represent. I suppose we persist because we expect a response like "That's something I don't get, let me try to understand that first" instead of "What if I ignore all that and ask the same question in different words?" Block universe, world lines... it's like expecting to find some aspect of relativity for which the rules of relativity don't apply.
  14. I did mean the same thing, but failed to state it. I should have said I meant the spatial distance between two events at the same time in a particular frame of reference. Did I imply the invariant length of a spacetime interval? ...thus proving my point that you have to specify these details for things to make sense to others!
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