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The principle of relativity which forms part of Newton's theory of mechanics and the universal constancy of the speed of light are examined in the context of the Newton/Maxwell conflict discovered Einstein.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: S354, Understanding space and time
Item code: S354; 05
First transmission date: 02-05-1979
Published: 1979
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:23:03
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Producer: Jenny Hughes
Contributors: Julian Schwinger; Russell Stannard
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): 17th century; 1905 Michelson Morley de Sitter; Einstein; Electricity; Light properties; Magnetism; Maxwell; Newton; Theory of relativity
Footage description: Shots of portraits of Newton, Maxwell and Einstein. Shots of modern undergraduates in a punt on the River Cam. Julian Schwinger, Nobel Laureate, University of California, introduces the programme. A thought experiment is acted out with two "students" in Edwardian dress in a punt on the Cam and an "Einstein" on a bicycle on the bank. Commentary (v/o) by Schwinger explains the experiment which conveys Newton's idea that there is no upper limit to speed. An animation also here to illustrate the point. Schwinger, standing on a bridge over the Cam, points out the conflict between the ideas of Newton and Maxwell over this issue. Russ Stanard explains the need for an experiment to resolve the matter. Using an animation, Russ Stannard describes an experiment, first suggested by the astronomer de Sitter, which would determine if there were an upper limit to speed. The experiment involves observations from a binary star system. Julian Schwinger, with the aid of an animation sums up the above experiment. He goes on to suggest that the results may have been due to a special coordinate system in which the observations were taken. Schwinger explains that another experiment is needed to show that the results are valid for all coordinate systems. Schwinger (v/o animation) sets out an analogy for the Michelson Morley experiment which tested the above ideas. In this analogy, airplanes travelling through the jet stream simulate pulses of light. Russ Stannard, with apparatus similar to that used by Michelson and Morley, explains the basis of the Michelson Morley experiment which showed that the motion of the earth around the sun had no effect on the speed of light, or more generally, that the frame of reference of an observer had no influence on the speed of light. Julian Schwinger, outside Clare College, Cambridge, sums up the programme.
Master spool number: DOU2885
Production number: FOUS066L
Videofinder number: 1959
Available to public: no