Friday, January 29, 2010

The Relativistic Roller Coaster

Since we have been discussing special relativity, I thought this video would be nice.

This video demonstrates what would happen if you rode a roller coaster where, in the slow parts, you traveled 10% the speed of light then accelerated in the fast sections to 80% the speed of light.

Notice a couple things:
  1. Colors get shifted all around by the Doppler Effect.
  2. Light rays appear bent, even wrap around!, as you accelerate back and forth between these speeds.
Anyways, if you would like to imagine what it would really look like to accelerate close to the speed of light, here you go:


  1. So what you're saying is that Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii is not realistic? What a dissapointment...

  2. Yes, the Wii is good for a lot of things... not teaching kids correct ideas about relativity.

    Unfortunately, I have to admit this makes parts of Star Wars not too accurate either. :(


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