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Relativity - Approaching the Speed of Light


"Some of the ideas of special relativity may seem strange and impossible, but here at TRIUMF, we know that special relativity works, because we see it in action every day."

Approaching the Speed of Light  is the first DVD produced in the TRIUMF Physics in Action video series.   The video demonstrates an example of special relativity in action at TRIUMF using computer graphics to illustrate the principles involved.  After explaining the relativistic effect and how it arises, students are presented with actual data from the experiment, from which they can do a straightforward calculation that proves that special relativity works.  The solution is provided at the end.

A companion workbook provides background information, the data, and calculation sheets to assist students and teachers with the problem.  The workbook is freely editable by teachers to suit their classroom needs.

Download the Workbook

For Students (zip file)

For Teachers (email)


Information about the Physics in Action video series

Ce document est aussi disponible en français.

TRIUMF is committed to ensuring Canadian youth are the best-educated on the planet. The Physics In Action lesson series teaches students about the physical sciences and shows them that physics, in addition to being fun and exciting, can lead to rewarding careers in Canada’s emerging knowledge-based economy.

TRIUMF’s initiative creates science education videos for high schools by providing lesson plans, resources and video-clip demonstrations of how physics principles are applied in a real-world environment, such as the nuclear and particle physics laboratory at TRIUMF. Each lesson on the DVD uses different stages of TRIUMF’s particle accelerator to demonstrate clear and simple explanations of physics. The standard concepts of electricity, magnetism, potential and kinetic energy, classical mechanics and forces are illustrated using the TRIUMF cyclotron and other accelerators – technology that cannot be accessed in normal classroom experience.