Lorentz factor

By Oleksandr Koliakin

To understand the Lorentz Factor, we first have to understand a part of General Relativity. Einstein proved that time is relative for all objects. The more mass an object has, and the more concentrated this mass is, the more it bends spacetime around it. This means that time runs slower around massive objects. If you were to spend a couple of minutes near a black hole (without being ripped to pieces or falling beyond the event horizon), and returned back to Earth, you would notice that months or even years passed on Earth. This means that black holes are sort of time machines, but they only enable travel to the future.

Einstein also proved that when an object is accelerating, part of the energy it uses to increase its velocity is converted into mass. But how exactly can we calculate the increase in mass?

The Lorentz Factor is a special factor used to calculate how the speed of an object has impact on its mass, its speed of time and its length contraction. It is calculated using the equation:

Where gamma (y) is the Lorentz Factor, v is the velocity of an object and c is the speed of light.

If the velocity of an object is small, the Lorentz factor is extremely tiny. Once the velocity of an object is a large fraction of the speed of light, the Lorentz factor becomes much more noticeable. If the velocity of an object with mass reaches the speed of light, we get a division by 0 error in the Lorentz factor.

Here is how to calculate things using the Lorentz Factor:

current mass = original mass x Lorentz factor

how much time passed = how much time would pass for massless objects / Lorentz factor

length of object = original length of object / Lorentz factor

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