Relativity Diagram Part 1

January 29, 2018

This posting is Part 1 of an exploration of a way to diagram special relativity that I found in a book.  Future postings will delve into it more deeply. Part 1 introduces the idea.

I recall reading a book a while back called Relativity Visualized by Lewis Carroll Epstein. In it he has his explanation for why nothing can exceed the speed of light.  The reason is that everything travels at the speed of light, whether it be purely through space (photons) or purely through time (for a stationary frame of reference, and we multiply the time axis by c to get units of space), or some combination of the two. He has an interesting diagram which shows what he means by this concept.  Recently on YouTube on the FermiLab channel, the host, physicist Don Lincoln, used the same argument to explain the speed of light, but cautioned that it was just a rough intuitive explanation. The real explanation involves Minkowski diagrams.  This paper will explore this concept and diagram, and see how far I can take the diagram as an explanation of the results of special relativity.  I will eventually tie it back to the Minkowski diagram, and show how some improvements to the diagram can be made.   Read more…