By Harrison D.M.
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Extra resources for About Mass-Energy Equivalence
Lorentz was the ﬁrst to introduce the hypothesis that the form of the electron experiences a contraction in the direction of motion in consequence of that motion, the contracted length being prov2 portional to the expression 1 - 2. This hypothesis, which is c not justiﬁable by any electrodynamical facts, supplies us then with that particular law of motion which has been conﬁrmed with great precision in recent years. The theory of relativity leads to the same law of motion, without requiring any special hypothesis whatsoever as to the structure and the behaviour of the electron.
Let us consider how these diﬃculties arise. Of course we must refer the process of the propagation of light (and indeed every other process) to a rigid reference-body (co-ordinate system). As such a system let us again choose our embankment. We shall imagine the air above it to have been removed. If a ray of light be sent along the embankment, we see from the above that the tip of the ray will be transmitted with the velocity c relative to the embankment. Now let us suppose that our railway carriage is again travelling along the railway lines with the velocity v, and that its direction is the same as that of the ray of light, but its velocity of course much less.
Those of you who have carefully followed the preceding discussion are almost sure to expect that we should retain the principle of relativity, which appeals so convincingly to the intellect because it is so natural and simple. The law of the propagation of light in vacuo would then have to be replaced by a more complicated law conformable to the principle of relativity. The development of theoretical physics shows, however, that we cannot pursue this course. The epoch-making theoretical investigations of H.
About Mass-Energy Equivalence by Harrison D.M.