Data and Time December 10 , 2010, 3:00-4:00 PM
Location Sanford Flemming Building, Room B560
Host Leon Yuan

Maxwell's Equations and the Birth of the Special Theory of Relativity

Roberto Armenta

The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Electromagnetics)


The special theory of relativity (1905) became famous because of the bewildering properties of length and time it claimed to be true: moving objects become shorter, moving clocks run slower, traveling people remain younger. All these results came out of a series of theoretical and experimental studies of light propagation as seen by moving observers. These studies ultimately led to what is known today as the principle of invariance of the velocity of light: the speed of light in empty space is the same for all inertial systems, independent of the motion of the light source and of the observer. During this seminar, we will review how Maxwell's equations led Einstein and others to establish such principle, and how this principle led to a new understanding of space, time and the role that coordinate systems play in describing physical phenomena. Time permitting, we will also explore how this new understanding of the role of coordinate systems can be exploited to make the numerical solution of Maxwell's equations more robust and efficient.


Roberto is a PhD student in the Electromagnetics Group under the supervision of Prof. Costas Sarris