Special Relativity Kinematics with Anisotropic Propagation of Light and Correspondence Principle

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The purpose of the present paper is to develop kinematics of the special relativity with an anisotropy of the one-way speed of light. As distinct from a common approach, when the issue of anisotropy of the light propagation is placed into the context of conventionality of distant simultaneity, it is supposed that an anisotropy of the one-way speed of light is due to a real space anisotropy. In that situation, some assumptions used in developing the standard special relativity kinematics are not valid so that the “anisotropic special relativity” kinematics should be developed based on the first principles, without refereeing to the relations of the standard relativity theory. In particular, using condition of invariance of the interval between two events becomes unfounded in the presence of anisotropy of space since the standard proofs drawing the interval invariance from the invariance of equation of light propagation are not valid in that situation. Instead, the invariance of the equation of light propagation (with an anisotropy of the one-way speed of light incorporated), which is a physical law, should be taken as a first principle. A number of other physical requirements, associativity, reciprocity and so on are satisfied by the requirement that the transformations between the frames form a group. Finally, the correspondence principle is to be satisfied which implies that the coordinate transformations should turn into the Galilean transformations in the limit of small velocities. The above formulation based on the invariance and group property suggests applying the Lie group theory apparatus which includes the following steps: constructing determining equations for the infinitesimal group generators using the invariance condition; solving the determining equations; specifying the solutions using the correspondence principle; defining the finite transformations by solving the Lie equations; relating the group parameter to physical parameters. The transformations derived in such a way, as distinct from the transformations derived in the context of conventionality of distant simultaneity, cannot be converted into the standard Lorentz transformations by a coordinate (synchrony) change. The anisotropic nature of the presented transformations manifests itself in that they do not leave the interval invariant but only provide the conformal invariance of the interval. The relations that represent measurable effects include the conformal factor which depends on the relative velocity of the frames and the anisotropy degree. It is important to note the use of the correspondence principle as a heuristic principle which allows to relate the conformal factor to the anisotropy degree and thus completely specify the transformations and observable quantities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1573-1597
Number of pages25
JournalFoundations of Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Anisotropic propagation of light
  • Conformal invariance
  • Correspondence principle
  • Invariance of the equation of light propagation
  • Lie group theory apparatus
  • Special relativity


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