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Open AccessArticle

Visualization of Thomas–Wigner Rotations

GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
Symmetry 2017, 9(12), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9120292
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 7 November 2017 / Accepted: 8 November 2017 / Published: 27 November 2017
It is well known that a sequence of two non-collinear Lorentz boosts (pure Lorentz transformations) does not correspond to a Lorentz boost, but involves a spatial rotation, the Wigner or Thomas–Wigner rotation. We visualize the interrelation between this rotation and the relativity of distant simultaneity by moving a Born-rigid object on a closed trajectory in several steps of uniform proper acceleration. Born-rigidity implies that the stern of the boosted object accelerates faster than its bow. It is shown that at least five boost steps are required to return the object’s center to its starting position, if in each step the center is assumed to accelerate uniformly and for the same proper time duration. With these assumptions, the Thomas–Wigner rotation angle depends on a single parameter only. Furthermore, it is illustrated that accelerated motion implies the formation of a “frame boundary”. The boundaries associated with the five boosts constitute a natural barrier and ensure the object’s finite size. View Full-Text
Keywords: special relativity; Thomas–Wigner rotation; accelerated frame; visualization special relativity; Thomas–Wigner rotation; accelerated frame; visualization
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Beyerle, G. Visualization of Thomas–Wigner Rotations. Symmetry 2017, 9, 292.

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