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Experimental basis of Special Relativity/Tests of Time Dilation and Transverse Doppler Effect

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The Doppler effect is the observed variation in frequency of a source when it is observed by a detector that is moving relative to the source. This effect is most pronounced when the source is moving directly toward or away from the detector, and in pre-relativity physics its value was zero for transverse motion (motion perpendicular to the source-detector line). In SR there is a non-zero Doppler effect for transverse motion, due to the relative time dilation of the source as seen by the detector. Measurements of Doppler shifts for sources moving with velocities approaching c can test the validity of SR's prediction for such observations, which differs significantly from classical predictions; the experiments support SR and are in complete disagreement with non-relativistic predictions.

Review Article

  • G. Gwinner, “Experimental Tests of Time Dilation in Special Relativity”, Mod. Phys. Lett. 1, 20, no. 11 (2005), pg 791.: A general review article.


The Ives and Stilwell Experiment

  • H.E. Ives and G.R. Stilwell, “An Experimental Study of the Rate of a Moving Atomic Clock”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 28 pg 215–226 (1938); JOSA 31 pg 369–374 (1941).: This classic experiment measured the transverse Doppler effect for moving atoms.
  • Otting, Physik. Zeitschr. 40, 681 (1939).: -
  • Hasselkamp et al., Z. Physik A289 (1989), pg 151.: A measurement that is truly at 90° in the lab. Agreement with SR to an accuracy of a few percent.

See also Mandelberg and Witten.

Measurements of Particle Lifetimes

  • Rossi and Hoag, Physical Review 57, pg 461 (1940).Rossi and Hall, Physical Review 59, pg 223 (1941).Rasetti, Physical Review 60, pg 198 (1941).Redei, Phys. Rev. 162 no. 5 (1967), pg 1299.: Various measurements of the lifetimes of muons.
    See also: Bailey et al.
  • Durbin, Loar and Havens, Physical Review 88, pg 179 (1952).: -
  • D. Frisch and J. Smith, “Measurement of the Relativistic Time Dilation Using Mesons”, Am. J. Phys. 31 (1963) 342.: Measurements of the lifetimes of pions. An interpretation was given by: Terell, Nuovo Cimento 16 (1960) pg 457.
  • Greenberg et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 23 no. 21 (1969), pg 1267.: More accurate measurement of pion lifetimes.
  • Ayres et al., Phys. Rev. D3 no. 5 (1971), pg 1051.: Measurements of pion lifetimes, comparison of positive and negative pions, etc.
  • Burrowes et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 2 (1959), pg 117.: Measurements of Kaon lifetimes.

Doppler Shift Measurements

  • Kaivola et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 54 no. 4 (1985), pg 255.McGowan et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 70 no. 3 (1993), pg 251.: They compared the frequency of two lasers, one locked to fast-beam neon and one locked to the same transition in thermal neon. Kaivola found agreement with SR's Doppler formula is to within 4Ч10−5; McGowan within 2.3Ч10−6.
  • Hay et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 4 (1960), pg 165.: A Mцssbauer absorber on a rotor.
  • Kuendig, Phys. Rev. 129 no. 6 (1963), pg 2371.: A Mцssbauer absorber on a rotor was used to verify the transverse Doppler effect of SR to 1.1%.
  • Olin et al., Phys. Rev. D8 no. 6 (1973), pg 1633.: A nuclear measurement at 0.05 c, in very good agreement with the prediction of SR.
  • Mandelberg and Witten, Journal Opt. Soc. Amer. 52, pg 529 (1962).: Measured the exponent of the quadratic Doppler shift to be 0.498±0.025, in agreement with SR's value of Ѕ.

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