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written by Joe Wolfe and George Hatsidimitris
This animated tutorial, part of the Einstein Light website,  presents the concept of relativity from a situation inspired by Galileo (an inertial reference frame). It shows the motion of a ball being dropped from two reference frames: on a moving train and on a stationary platform. How does the motion appear different to the observer on the platform and the observer on the train?

The Einstein Light project is a qualitative introduction to relativity, developed for novice learners and built around the framework of Flash media files with narration, video, and animation. It explores concepts ranging from Galilean relativity through Einstein and quantum mechanics.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Editor's Note: Interesting sidebar:  When Galileo was interrogated by church authorities to prove the truth behind his revolutionary ideas, he spent one entire day presenting findings from his experiments on relative motion. He used rocks dropped on ships (not balls on trains) for his experimentation. To explore Galileo's life and contributions, See Related Materials: "Galileo's Battle for the Heavens".
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Applications of Newton's Laws
- Relative Motion
- Galilean Relativity
- Reference Frames
= Inertial
- High School
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Tutorial
- Reference Material
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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© 2005 School of Physics, University of New South Wales, Australia
Galileo, Newton, acceleration, force, mass, natural state, relative motion
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created December 12, 2007 by Christopher Bares
Record Updated:
August 16, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
February 12, 2007
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 9-12: 4F/H2. All motion is relative to whatever frame of reference is chosen, for there is no motionless frame from which to judge all motion.

10. Historical Perspectives

10A. Displacing the Earth from the Center of the Universe
  • 9-12: 10A/H6. Writing in Italian rather than in Latin (the language of scholars at the time), Galileo presented arguments for and against the two main views of the universe in a way that favored the newer view. His descriptions of how things move provided an explanation for why people might notice the motion of the earth. Galileo's writings made educated people of the time aware of these competing views and created political, religious, and scientific controversy.
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Record Link
AIP Format
J. Wolfe and G. Hatsidimitris, (2005), WWW Document, (http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/einsteinlight/jw/module1_Galileo_and_Newton.htm).
J. Wolfe and G. Hatsidimitris, Einstein Light: Galilean Relativity and Newtonian Mechanics (2005), <http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/einsteinlight/jw/module1_Galileo_and_Newton.htm>.
APA Format
Wolfe, J., & Hatsidimitris, G. (2007, February 12). Einstein Light: Galilean Relativity and Newtonian Mechanics. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/einsteinlight/jw/module1_Galileo_and_Newton.htm
Chicago Format
Wolfe, Joe, and George Hatsidimitris. Einstein Light: Galilean Relativity and Newtonian Mechanics. February 12, 2007. http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/einsteinlight/jw/module1_Galileo_and_Newton.htm (accessed 24 June 2024).
MLA Format
Wolfe, Joe, and George Hatsidimitris. Einstein Light: Galilean Relativity and Newtonian Mechanics. 2005. 12 Feb. 2007. 24 June 2024 <http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/einsteinlight/jw/module1_Galileo_and_Newton.htm>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Joe Wolfe and George Hatsidimitris", Title = {Einstein Light: Galilean Relativity and Newtonian Mechanics}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {24 June 2024}, Month = {February 12, 2007}, Year = {2005} }
Refer Export Format

%A Joe Wolfe %A George Hatsidimitris %T Einstein Light: Galilean Relativity and Newtonian Mechanics %D February 12, 2007 %U http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/einsteinlight/jw/module1_Galileo_and_Newton.htm %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Wolfe, Joe %A Hatsidimitris, George %D February 12, 2007 %T Einstein Light: Galilean Relativity and Newtonian Mechanics %V 2024 %N 24 June 2024 %8 February 12, 2007 %9 text/html %U http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/einsteinlight/jw/module1_Galileo_and_Newton.htm

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Einstein Light: Galilean Relativity and Newtonian Mechanics:

Is Supplemented By NOVA: Galileo's Battle for the Heavens

A two-hour NOVA program that explores the story of Galileo and his struggle to gain acceptance of his revolutionary discoveries. Presented as a drama starring Simon Callow in reenactments of key moments in Galileo's life.

relation by Caroline Hall

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