Aids to Understanding
Working with indefinfinite integrals
Basic knowledge of differentiation and integration is assumed. An indefinite integral is one with no upper or lower
limits. In general the answer to an integration of this type always has a constant of integration. This is because an integral
is actually an anti-derivative, thus when we differentiate it we end up where we started. The deivative of a constant
is zero. If f(x) = x2 then its integral is 1/3x3 + constant. If we differentiate 1/3x3 + constant
we are back to x2, ie where we started.
The equations of motion
This problem is about a rocket that has just taken off from from the Earth's surface.
The rocket's displacement function at this point has been empirically established s(t) = 2t + 1.2 t2
(i) Find v(t) the rocket's velocity as a function ot time.
(ii) Find the rocket's acceleration and state why it is constant?
(iii) What is the rocket's velocity 0.5s after its displacement function has been established.
(iv) Explain why, in this context, that it probably would not be correct to evaluate this displacement function for long time intervals. (v) Write down a possible displacement function at 5 km, say, above the surface of the Earth.
The non-relativity of light speed
To illustrate the time dilation expression ...
Suppose the denominator (the bottom line) of the expression equals 1/3. This means if Olivia measured the period of a pendulum on the passing train and got 3.0s, then Thomas would record 1.0s, thus his clock is clearly running slower. This is an unexpected result, but it has been verified by experiment and is a direct consequence of the constancy of the speed of light for all observers. You are invited to calculate the speed a vehicle must be travelling in order for the time intervals to increase by a factor of three (ie for events to take 3 times longer than those times measured by a stationary observer).
The Twin Paradox
Suppose Thomas and Olivia are twins at a Launch pad on Earth. Thomas jumps in his aircraft and
flies off at a speed of 0.5 c. This means (remember to verify this) time periods on his
aircraft as measured by Olivia will be &radic3/2 (= 0.86) x her readings. Now if the spacecraft goes on
a journey for ten years as measured by Olivia, Thomas' will have recorded on his watch ten years too, but
his ten years are not the same as his sister's ten years. In fact because his clock ran slow, he only aged
by 8.6 years. This is not the Twin Paradox, it is merely an interesting and factually correct curiosity.
Thomas could say to his sister, yes but you also moved at 0.5 c, relative to me and if the mirror and light pulse was next to
you as I passed by the expression would be ...
This paradox is resolved by noting the situations for Thomas and Olivia are not identical in that Thomas had to accelerate and decelerate as he went out and came back. Olivia, on the other hand, was always at rest.