Thursday, January 12, 2023

An interesting approach to understanding Special Relativity

From Terrance Tao: Special relativity and Middle-Earth, an allegory.


Grim said...

The utility of the allegory may be limited by the amount of conceptual work it takes to lay it out for students; but the point is a good one once he gets there.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Maybe it's just my belief that Tao is the current smartest person alive, but I get the impression that this is a shortcut insight and fun thing to think about for him that he has to labor to slow down the explanation so the rest of us can catch up. I echo Grim. I thought I had some conceptual understanding of Special Relativity (General Relativity has always eluded me) and his explanation seemed to be undermining that and taking me in a direction I didn't want. But in the last third of this I started to see how this might be useful and connect it back to what I knew before.

james said...

I think he's highlighting a less-well-understood aspect--the rotation. A ball will look rotated.