rapidity

For vectors in Minkowski spacetime $\mathbb{R}^{p,1}$ (regarded as the inner product space $(\mathbb{R}^{p+1}, \eta)$ for $\eta$ the Minkowski metric) *rapidity* is the analog in Lorentzian geometry of what in Euclidean geometry would be the *angle* to the time-axis. If vectors in $\mathbb{R}^{p,1}$ are thought of as tangent vectors to trajectories in Minkowski spacetime, their rapidity is a measure for the *velocity* of the trajectory, which is well-adapted to Lorentz transformations.

Let $x = (x^0, \vert x) \in \mathbb{R}^{p,1}$ be a vector with Minkowski norm-square

$-{\vert x\vert}_\eta^2 \coloneqq (x^0)^2 - {\vert \vec x\vert}^2 \;\geq 0\;
\,.$

and

$x^0 \geq 0
\,.$

Them its *rapidity* is the unique $z \in \mathbb{R}$ such that

$x^0 = \sqrt{-{\vert x\vert}^2_\eta} \, \cosh(z)$

and

${\vert \vec x\vert} = \sqrt{-{\vert x\vert}^2} \, \sinh(z)$

where $\cosh, \sinh$ denote the hyperbolic cosine and hyperbolic sine, respectively.

In contrast, the velocity of $x$ is the product of the speed of light $c$ with the hyperbolic tangent of the rapidity:

$\begin{aligned}
v
& \coloneqq
\frac{ { \vert \vec x\vert} }{t}
\\
& =
c \frac{ {\vert \vec x\vert} }{x^0}
\\
& =
c \frac{ \sinh(z) }{ \cosh(z)}
\\
& =
c \tanh(z)
\end{aligned}$

- Wikipedia,
*Rapidity*

Last revised on November 24, 2017 at 16:48:19. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.