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Paradoxes I

Keywords: Reference Frames, Special Relativity, Length Contraction, Small Group Activity, World Lines

Highlights of the activity

  1. This small group activity is designed to help upper division undergraduate students analyze standard relativity paradoxes.
  2. Students work in small groups and use spacetime diagrams to analyze standard relativity paradoxes (e.g., the “pole-in-barn” paradox).
  3. The whole class wrap-up discussion includes group presentations, allowing students to reach consensus in resolving each paradox using spacetime diagrams.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

  • Encourages students to learn to use spacetime diagrams.
  • Confronts students with unexpected properties of special relativity.


Instructor's Guide

Student Handouts


Authors: Tevian Dray
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