The visual appearance of rapidly moving objects

  title={The visual appearance of rapidly moving objects},
  author={Victor frederick Weisskopf},
  journal={Physics Today},
I would like to draw the attention of physicists to a recent paper by James Terrell in which he does away with an old prejudice held by practically all of us. We all believed that, according to special relativity, an object in motion appears to be contracted in the direction of motion by a factor [1−(υ/c)]1/2. A passenger in a fast space ship, looking out of the window, so it seemed to us, would see spherical objects contracted to ellipsoids. This is definitely not so according to Terrell's… Expand

Figures from this paper

On the apparent visual forms of relativistically moving objects
SummaryThe question of the apparent visual shape of an object moving at relativistic speeds, as perceived by a single observer, is analysed afresh. It is shown by qualitative arguments that theExpand
The appearance, apparent speed, and removal of optical effects for relativistically moving objects
Because various parts of an object are different distances from an observer, and light takes a finite time to reach the observer, the appearance of a relativistically moving object will be veryExpand
Gamow’s cyclist: a new look at relativistic measurements for a binocular observer
A rigorous re-analysis of the cyclist, this time in three dimensions, is undertaken for a binocular observer, accounting for both the distortion in apparent position and the relativistic colour and intensity shifts undergone by a fast-moving object. Expand
Projection of relativistically moving objects on a two-dimensional plane, the `train' paradox and the visibility of the Lorentz contraction
Although many papers have appeared on the theory of photographing relativistically moving objects, pioneered by the classic work of Penrose and Terrell, three problems remain outstanding. (1) ThereExpand
The Apparent Shape of Rapidly Moving Objects in Special Relativity
Summary A review is presented of previous papers on the apparent shape of bodies travelling with speeds comparable to that of light. It is shown that the visibility or otherwise of the LorentzExpand
Chapter 7 – Relativistic Photography
Chapter 7, relativistic photography using a pinhole camera, is unique to this book. It is the arena in which the power of Lorentz transformation and the limitation, even the incorrectness, of the useExpand
Brightness and color of rapidly moving objects: The visual appearance of a large sphere revisited
An object at relativistic speed is seen as both rotated and distorted when it is large or close by so that it subtends a large solid angle. This is a consequence of the aberration effect and isExpand
Gamow's bicycle: The Appearance of Bodies at Relativistic Speeds and Apparent Superluminal Velocities
A human creates an image basing on the information delivered by photons that arrived at his retina simultaneously. Due to finite and constant velocity of light these photons left the moving body atExpand
Image shading taking into account relativistic effects
This article is concerned with creating more realistic images of 3D scenes which are moving relative to the viewer at such high speeds that the propagation delay of light signals and otherExpand
Two novel special relativistic effects: Space dilatation and time contraction
The conventional discussion of the observed distortions of space and time in special relativity (the Lorentz–Fitzgerald contraction and time dilatation) is extended by considering observations, fromExpand


Invisibility of the Lorentz Contraction
It is shown that, if the apparent directions of objects are plotted as points on a sphere surrounding the observer, the Lorentz transformation corresponds to a conformal transformation on the surfaceExpand
Quantum Limitations of the Measurement of Space-Time Distances
This article deals with the limitations which the quantized nature of microscopic systems imposes on the possibility of measuring distances between space-time events. It is proposed to use onlyExpand