## Activity: Possible Worldlines

Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)
Student consider several curves on a spacetime diagram and have to judge which curves could be worldlines for an object.
What students learn
• Speed on a spacetime diagram is inverse slope.
• Object can't travel faster than the speed of light.
• Lightlines have a slope of 1 (when axes are scaled to the same units)
• Media

## Student Conversations

• Speed is Inverse Slope Students have trouble fighting their intuitions about speed being the slope on a graph.
• Time Measured in Units of Length Some students are thrown by multiplying the time coordinate by a speed to get units of distance. This just takes a while to sink in.
• face Lorentz Transformation (Geometric)

face Lecture

30 min.

##### Lorentz Transformation (Geometric)
Theoretical Mechanics (3 years)

In this lecture, students see a geometric derivation of the Lorentz Transformation on a spacetime diagram.
• group Projectile with Linear Drag

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

##### Projectile with Linear Drag
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Students consider projectile motion of an object that experiences drag force that in linear with the velocity. Students consider the horizontal motion and the vertical motion separately. Students solve Newton's 2nd law as a differential equation.
• group Right Angles on Spacetime Diagrams

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### Right Angles on Spacetime Diagrams
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Students take the inner product of vectors that lie on the spacetime axis to show that they are orthogonal. To do the inner product, students much use the Minkowski metric.
• group Mass is not Conserved

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### Mass is not Conserved
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Groups are asked to analyze the following standard problem:

Two identical lumps of clay of (rest) mass m collide head on, with each moving at 3/5 the speed of light. What is the mass of the resulting lump of clay?

• assignment Events on Spacetime Diagrams

assignment Homework

##### Events on Spacetime Diagrams
Special Relativity Spacetime Diagram Simultaneity Colocation Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)
1. Which pairs of events (if any) are simultaneous in the unprimed frame?

2. Which pairs of events (if any) are simultaneous in the primed frame?

3. Which pairs of events (if any) are colocated in the unprimed frame?

4. Which pairs of events (if any) are colocated in the primed frame?

1. For each of the figures, answer the following questions:
1. Which event occurs first in the unprimed frame?

2. Which event occurs first in the primed frame?

• group Events on Spacetime Diagrams

group Small Group Activity

5 min.

##### Events on Spacetime Diagrams
Theoretical Mechanics 2021

Students practice identifying whether events on spacetime diagrams are simultaneous, colocated, or neither for different observers. Then students decide which of two events occurs first in two different reference frames.
• group Box Sliding Down Frictionless Wedge

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

##### Box Sliding Down Frictionless Wedge
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Students solve for the equations of motion of a box sliding down (frictionlessly) a wedge, which itself slides on a horizontal surface, in order to answer the question "how much time does it take for the box to slide a distance $d$ down the wedge?". This activities highlights finding kinetic energies when the coordinate system is not orthonormal and checking special cases, functional behavior, and dimensions.
• group The Hillside

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### The Hillside
Vector Calculus I 2022

Students work in groups to measure the steepest slope and direction on a plastic surface, and to compare their result with the gradient vector, obtained by measuring its components (the slopes in the coordinate directions).
• group The Hill

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### The Hill
Vector Calculus II 23 (4 years)

In this small group activity, students determine various aspects of local points on an elliptic hill which is a function of two variables. The gradient is emphasized as a local quantity which points in the direction of greatest change at a point in the scalar field.
• group Earthquake waves

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

##### Earthquake waves
Contemporary Challenges 2021 (4 years)

In this activity students use the known speed of earthquake waves to estimate the Young's modulus of the Earth's crust.

Learning Outcomes