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Concept# Relativity of simultaneity

Summary

In physics, the relativity of simultaneity is the concept that distant simultaneity – whether two spatially separated events occur at the same time – is not absolute, but depends on the observer's reference frame. This possibility was raised by mathematician Henri Poincaré in 1900, and thereafter became a central idea in the special theory of relativity.
According to the special theory of relativity introduced by Albert Einstein, it is impossible to say in an absolute sense that two distinct events occur at the same time if those events are separated in space. If one reference frame assigns precisely the same time to two events that are at different points in space, a reference frame that is moving relative to the first will generally assign different times to the two events (the only exception being when motion is exactly perpendicular to the line connecting the locations of both events).
For example, a car crash in London and another in New York appearing to happen at the same time to an observer on Earth, will appear to have occurred at slightly different times to an observer on an airplane flying between London and New York. Furthermore, if the two events cannot be causally connected, depending on the state of motion, the crash in London may appear to occur first in a given frame, and the New York crash may appear to occur first in another. However, if the events are causally connected, precedence order is preserved in all frames of reference.
History of special relativityHistory of Lorentz transformations and Lorentz ether theory
In 1892 and 1895, Hendrik Lorentz used a mathematical method called "local time" t' = t – v x/c2 for explaining the negative aether drift experiments. However, Lorentz gave no physical explanation of this effect. This was done by Henri Poincaré who already emphasized in 1898 the conventional nature of simultaneity and who argued that it is convenient to postulate the constancy of the speed of light in all directions.

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In physics, the relativity of simultaneity is the concept that distant simultaneity – whether two spatially separated events occur at the same time – is not absolute, but depends on the observer's reference frame. This possibility was raised by mathematician Henri Poincaré in 1900, and thereafter became a central idea in the special theory of relativity. According to the special theory of relativity introduced by Albert Einstein, it is impossible to say in an absolute sense that two distinct events occur at the same time if those events are separated in space.