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written by Craig M. Savage
Through Einstein's Eyes is the online version of a multimedia project designed to aid in visualizing how things look at relativistic speeds. The collection centerpiece is the "Relativistic Roller Coaster", a virtual world where light speed is only 5 meters per second. This framework allowed the developers to translate the effects of relativity into normal experience. Additional simulations explore color distortion, length contraction, relativistic aberration, Terrell rotation, angular compression, the Doppler Effect, and more. Users can stop/start the simulations to view related background information. The project is aimed at high school to college-level introductory physics students, and is periodically classroom-tested.

In addition, the website offers tutorials on the fundamentals of special relativity, all written for learners with little or no prior experience with the topic. High-resolution DVD versions of the material are available from the website. The movies on this website were created by a method called "relativistic raytracing", implemented in Backlight software. See Related Materials for an article detailing the development of the graphics package and its computational basis.

Please note that this resource requires Quicktime.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Technology
= Multimedia
- Miscellaneous
- Special Relativity
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Tutorial
- Reference Material
= Research study
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Limited free access
Cost for CD or DVD versions
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license.
Rights Holder:
The Australian National University School of Physics
Einstein's view, aberration, length contraction, multimedia view of light speed, relativistic Doppler effect, relativity simulation, special relativity, time dilation, traveling at the speed of light
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created April 19, 2005 by Craig Savage
Record Updated:
August 14, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 22, 2005
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

10. Historical Perspectives

10C. Relating Matter & Energy and Time & Space
  • 9-12: 10C/H1. As a young man, Albert Einstein, a German scientist, formulated the special theory of relativity, which brought about revolutionary changes in human understanding of nature. Among the counterintuitive ideas of special relativity is that the speed of light is the same for all observers no matter how they or the light source happen to be moving. In addition, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
  • 9-12: 10C/H6. Under everyday situations, most of the predictions of special relativity are nearly identical to those of classical mechanics. The more counterintuitive predictions of special relativity occur in situations that humans do not typically experience.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
  • 9-12: 11B/H1a. A mathematical model uses rules and relationships to describe and predict objects and events in the real world.
  • 9-12: 11B/H2. Computers have greatly improved the power and use of mathematical models by performing computations that are very long, very complicated, or repetitive. Therefore, computers can reveal the consequences of applying complex rules or of changing the rules. The graphic capabilities of computers make them useful in the design and simulated testing of devices and structures and in the simulation of complicated processes.
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Record Link
AIP Format
C. Savage, (2005), WWW Document, (http://people.physics.anu.edu.au/~cms130/TEE/).
C. Savage, Through Einstein's Eyes Online - Visualizing Special Relativity, (2005), <http://people.physics.anu.edu.au/~cms130/TEE/>.
APA Format
Savage, C. (2005, June 22). Through Einstein's Eyes Online - Visualizing Special Relativity. Retrieved February 24, 2017, from http://people.physics.anu.edu.au/~cms130/TEE/
Chicago Format
Savage, Craig. Through Einstein's Eyes Online - Visualizing Special Relativity. June 22, 2005. http://people.physics.anu.edu.au/~cms130/TEE/ (accessed 24 February 2017).
MLA Format
Savage, Craig. Through Einstein's Eyes Online - Visualizing Special Relativity. 2005. 22 June 2005. 24 Feb. 2017 <http://people.physics.anu.edu.au/~cms130/TEE/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Craig Savage", Title = {Through Einstein's Eyes Online - Visualizing Special Relativity}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {24 February 2017}, Month = {June 22, 2005}, Year = {2005} }
Refer Export Format

%A Craig Savage
%T Through Einstein's Eyes Online - Visualizing Special Relativity
%D June 22, 2005
%U http://people.physics.anu.edu.au/~cms130/TEE/
%O video/quicktime

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Savage, Craig
%D June 22, 2005
%T Through Einstein's Eyes Online - Visualizing Special Relativity
%V 2017
%N 24 February 2017
%8 June 22, 2005
%9 video/quicktime
%U http://people.physics.anu.edu.au/~cms130/TEE/

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Through Einstein's Eyes Online - Visualizing Special Relativity:

Accompanies Learning Centre Tutorials

A set of text tutorials developed to accompany the simulations found in the Through Einstein's Eyes Online website.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Based On Visualising Special Relativity Article

A paper by authors Savage and Searle that details how they developed the Backlight software program for "Through Einstein's Eyes Online".

relation by Caroline Hall
Same topic as Light Clock

An interactive simulation that illustrates time dilation in a way that is comprehensible for novice learners.

relation by Caroline Hall

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