0. Abstract

A traveler-centered intro to kinematics

by P. Fraundorf of Physics & Astronomy/Center for NanoScience at University of Missouri -St Louis (63121)

Treating time as a local variable permits robust approaches to kinematics that forego questions of extended-simultaneity, which because of their abstract nature might not be addressed explicitly until a first relativity course and even then without considering the dependence of clock-rates on position in a gravitational field. For example we here use synchrony-free ``traveler kinematic" relations to construct a brief story for beginning students about: (a) time as a local quantity like position that depends on ``which clock", (b) coordinate-acceleration as an approximation to the acceleration felt by a moving traveler, and (c) the geometric origin (hence mass-independence) of gravitational acceleration. The goal is to explicitly rule out global-time for all from the start, so that it can be returned as a local approximation, while tantalizing students interested in the subject with more widely-applicable equations in range of their math background. 

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