Seeing Relativity
Through Einstein's Eyes is a recent multimedia relativistic visualisation work.

Real Time Relativity is an interactive relativistic visualisation program.

If the speed of light could be reduced from over a billion kilometers per hour to just a few meters per second, the world would look very different.

The Australian National University relativistic visualization project has used supercomputers to simulate what we might see in a world where the effects of Einstein's theory of special relativity are everyday experiences.

View selected stills in the gallery, download the complete movies (17 minutes / 22 megabytes) and explanatory commentary or purchase complete VHS copies. A paper is available explaining the physics of relativistic optics.

At 76% the speed of light straight lines appear distorted, clouds bunch at the horizon, and a red desert is Doppler-shifted into a rainbow of different colours.
Doppler-Shifted Highway
At 76% the speed of light straight lines appear distorted, clouds bunch at the horizon, and a red desert is Doppler-shifted into a rainbow of different colours.

 

Gallery

Click on any of the images for a larger version.

A tram at rest. A tram in motion appears to be Terrel rotated, or equivalently, shortened and sheared. With all relativistic effects visible, the light from the tram is Doppler-shifted to higher frequencies (blueshifted) and darkened due to time dilation and geometrical effects.
Static
A tram at rest.
Warped
A tram in motion appears to be Terrel rotated, or equivalently, shortened and sheared.
Darkened
With all relativistic effects visible, the light from the tram is Doppler-shifted to higher frequencies (blueshifted) and darkened due to time dilation and geometrical effects.
A desert highway scene. The scene corrected for aberration at 0.76c. The scene corrected for aberration and Doppler shift.
Newton
A desert highway scene.
+Aberration
The scene corrected for aberration at 0.76c.
+Doppler
The scene corrected for aberration and Doppler shift.
The scene with all relativistic effects, including head-lighting / intensity effects. A Terrel-rotated cube. Flying inside a cube at 0.99c.
+Intensity
The scene with all relativistic effects, including head-lighting / intensity effects.
Terrel Rotation
A Terrel-rotated cube.
Static
Flying inside a cube at 0.99c.
Objects that present a circular outline, like the Earth, present a circular outline regardless of velocity - but can still appear distorted. The starfield appears bunched and is Doppler shifted. A close-up of the speed sign.
Earth
Objects that present a circular outline, like the Earth, present a circular outline regardless of velocity - but can still appear distorted.
Starfield
The starfield appears bunched and is Doppler shifted.
Speed Limit
A close-up of the speed sign.

Click on any of the images for a larger version.

Downloads

Click on the images below to download the two extended relativistic optics videos, Visualizing Special Relativity, and Seeing Relativity, in RealPlayer format. A complete printer-friendly commentary is available for the videos.

Download: Visualising Special Relativity (9 Mb RealPlayer)
Visualizing Special Relativity
[7 minutes] Compare the real and slow-light worlds with simple scenes
VSR.rm 9 Mb
Download: Seeing Relativity (13 Mb RealPlayer)
Seeing Relativity
[10 minutes] Features advanced relativistic effects and in-depth explanations
BACKLIGHT.rm 13 Mb

Higher quality MPEG versions of sections of Seeing Relativity are available below (200 kb - 1.2 Mb).

Download: Flash.mpg Download: Flicker.mpg Download: Onoff.mpg
Flash
Instead of instantaneously illuminating the scene, a flash photograph produces an expanding sphere of photons.
Flicker
Similarly, a flickering streetlamp produces a rippling effect.
On/Off
If we turn the lamp on and off, we can see the lag produced by the slow light.
Download: Mercator.mpg Download: Tram_bright.mpg Download: Tram_Doppler.mpg
Mercator
Using a "wraparond" Mercator projection we can see how parts of the scene expand or contract as we accelerate.
Bright
Riding a tram at near-light speeds  the head-light effect brightens the scene ahead and darkens the scene.
Doppler
As we move along the street, the green streetlamps ahead of the tram are blueshifted; behind, they are redshifted.
Download: Tram_fast.mpg Download: Tram_through.mpg View: Commentary.html
Fast
IIf we instead watch the tram go by, we see it warp according to the Terrel and other effects
Through
If we plunge through the tram, all of its parts Terrel rotate independently making it appear to turn inside out!
Commentary
For more information on a particular scene, see the commentary for an explanation of the effects at work.

A paper on the physics of relativistic optics and the implementation of our visualization engine is available in Portable Document Format (.pdf).