Physics

Completing Einstein’s Theories – A Particle Physics Breakthrough

Wave Particle Physics Illustration

More than a century after it was first theorized, scientists have completed Einstein’s homework on special relativity in electromagnetism.

Osaka University researchers show the relativistic contraction of an electric field produced by fast-moving charged particles, as predicted by Einstein’s theory, which can help improve radiation and particle physics research.

Over a century ago, one of the most renowned modern physicists, Albert Einstein, proposed the ground-breaking theory of special relativity. Most of everything we know about the universe is based on this theory, however, a portion of it has not been experimentally demonstrated until now. Scientists from Osaka University’s Institute of Laser Engineering utilized ultrafast electro-optic measurements for the first time to visualize the contraction of the electric field surrounding an electron beam traveling at near the speed of light and demonstrate the generation process.

According to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, one must use a “Lorentz transformation” that combines space and time coordinates in order to accurately describe the motion of objects passing an observer at speeds near the speed of light. He was able to explain how these transformations resulted in self-consistent equations for electric and magnetic fields.

While different effects of relativity have been proved numerous times to a very high degree of experimental accuracy, there are still parts of relativity that have yet to be revealed in experiments. Ironically, one of these is the contraction of the electric field, which is represented as a special relativity phenomenon in electromagnetism.

Illustration of the formation process of the planar electric field contraction that accompanies the propagation of a near-light-speed electron beam (shown as an ellipse in the figure). Credit: Masato Ota, Makoto Nakajima

Now, the research team at Osaka University has demonstrated this effect experimentally for the first time. They accomplished this feat by measuring the profile of the Coulomb field in space and time around a high-energy electron beam generated by a linear particle accelerator. Using ultrafast electro-optic sampling, they were able to record the electric field with extremely high temporal resolution.

It has been reported that the Lorentz transformations of time and space as well as those of energy and momentum were demonstrated by time dilation experiments and rest mass energy experiments, respectively. Here, the team looked at a similar relativistic effect called electric-field contraction, which corresponds to the Lorentz transformation of electromagnetic potentials.

“We visualized the contraction of an electric field around an electron beam propagating close to the speed of light,” says Professor Makoto Nakajima, the project leader. In addition, the team observed the process of electric-field contraction right after the electron beam passed through a metal boundary.

When developing the theory of relativity, it is said that Einstein used thought experiments to imagine what it would be like to ride on a wave of light. “There is something poetic about demonstrating the relativistic effect of electric fields more than 100 years after Einstein predicted it,” says Professor Nakajima. “Electric fields were a crucial element in the formation of the theory of relativity in the first place.”

This research, with observations matching closely to Einstein’s predictions of special relativity in electromagnetism, can serve as a platform for measurements of energetic particle beams and other experiments in high-energy physics.

Reference: “Ultrafast visualization of an electric field under the Lorentz transformation” by Masato Ota, Koichi Kan, Soichiro Komada, Youwei Wang, Verdad C. Agulto, Valynn Katrine Mag-usara, Yasunobu Arikawa, Makoto R. Asakawa, Youichi Sakawa, Tatsunosuke Matsui and Makoto Nakajima, 20 October 2022, Nature Physics.
DOI: 10.1038/s41567-022-01767-w

The study was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the NIFS Collaborative Research Program. 

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  • "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." This is the great quotes in science. It comes from Albert Einstein. That is the movement of fundamental understructure in cosmos should be simpler and simpler.One is vortex, however, more is different. The complex interaction and balance of topological vortices cover all short-distance and long-distance contributions of space-time motion, and are the basis of the formation and evolution of cosmic matter. Good luck to your team.

  • Einstein's famous thought experiment concerning the speed of light was first proposed in an expensive illustrated children's book his parent's bought him. Challenge your children with beautiful questions. With a lifetime of pondering ahead of them, they might find answers.

    • We should correctly interpret the mathematical incompatibility in physics. For example, if we use 1 and -1 to correspond to the vortex and antivortex of topological phase transition, 1 and -1 are not equal in mathematics, however the vortex and antivortex have the same physical characteristics. The physical theorem is exactly identical in the space-times of vortex and antivortex. The vortex and antivortex may be different only when they are mutually referenced.
      In the same way, the infinite and invariant constant of light velocity, the infinite is dynamic and invariant constant is static, it's paradoxical just to understand it in mathematics. Now that we know the natural state of linear light motion, there are without any questions in the real world. The symmetry and simultaneity of two endpoints of linear light perfectly explained it with facts.
      Although the contradictions in mathematics are indeed a reflection of the nature of things, they must be interpreted correctly.
      No need goes other the proof, based on the symmetry and simultaneity of two endpoints of linear light in topological phase transition, there are at least following conclusions can be drawn:
      (1) The invariant constant of light velocity is that the two endpoints of light always appear at the same time.
      (2) The infinite of light velocity is that the light velocity v = d / 0 in mathematics.
      The principle of relativity has be derived by borrowed two seemingly unjustifiable hypotheses from classical mechanics. They are correct.
      These are as follows:
      (1) The time-interval (time) between two events (topological vortex and its twin anti-vortex) is independent of the condition of motion of the body of reference.
      (2) The space-interval (distance) between two points (topological vortex and its twin anti-vortex) of a rigid body is independent of the condition of motion of the body of reference.
      If you are interested, you can browse https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/377106345.

  • “While different effects of relativity have been proved numerous times to a very high degree of experimental accuracy, there are still parts of relativity that have yet to be revealed in experiments. IRONICALLY, one of these is the contraction of the electric field, which is represented as a special relativity phenomenon in electromagnetism.”

    There is nothing remotely ironic about that.

  • This could be one step closer to making anti gravity or better yet a electric shielding device?
    A look into the speed of light via particle radiation could be useful how the particles are moving and accelerating under speed of light… Can this work be performed using quantum mechanics particles?
    Space travel?
    Interesting

  • In my model of the universe time dilation is a myth and any experiment relying on time dilation as a proof is inherently flawed. In explanation, any atomic or mechanical clock, not time, will slow-down while it is being compelled to travel faster than normal through a dense ambient field of lines of gravity force such as that of the earth and/or in close proximity thereto. And, that includes the speed of light being variable, faster in deep space with few lines of gravity force. Regrettably, it probably will take new human devised experiments in deep space to prove me right or wrong, which I doubt will be possible in our lifetimes, if ever.

    • Would that still be time dilation as it is dependent on the observer. You will see the clock slow down but the clock still experiences time as normal.

      And just to clarify are you saying the speed of light is not a constant?

      • DC, thanks for the additional intellectual stimulation. Based upon the multiple clock experiments I've read/seen videos of (e.g., mechanical/atomic; tall buildings/jet planes) in conjunction with my personal 'insights' I don't see the alleged "time dilation" being the least bit dependent upon the observer except that it would have to be seen (e.g., live video from a jet plane to observers on the ground) to find the clocks literally slow down. With Einstein predicting it, and scientists finding it, 'gravitational lensing' has already demonstrated photons have enough mass for gravity to affect them. The weird part of my model is that as lines of gravity force radiate outward from a star they become less dense and attract photons to accelerate them, until they encounter another field of gravity, at which time they will begin to decelerate them, as the encountered field becomes increasingly dense; definitely not a constant.

  • Not being a person with a science background, and although I have a little challenge understanding the finer points, I find that proving Einsteins theories sometimes 100 years later shows just how amazingly brilliant he was. Likely using chalk and multiple boards but no equipment like is available today he was able to make mathematical assumptions that have held the test of time and now his theories are being proven. To a lay person it’s an incredible feat.

  • Same results If gravity can increase the speed of light.

    People have all sorts of clever distractions for ruling out gravity affecting light speed, but ultimately all their cleverness demonstrates that extending special relativity to significant gravity change is a matter of faith, meaning it's basically a religion for bending time and detecting dark matter. Beyond that, all I can say to cut to the chase is that the roughly octahedral shapes of Bennu and Ryugu support an objectively better model than GR, one that allows for retro-reflective focus in fine-scaled gravity flows with cold matter.

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