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Change in focus due to motion

1 January 1990


The physical properties of a system at rest are not the same when the system is in motion. These relativistic effects, such as changes of length and mass, are usually minute when the velocity of the system is small compared to the speed of light and therefore of little practical interest. However, this paper reports changes of the velocity of light in a moving medium which lead to changes in refractive index and therefore focal length that are not small. The change in focal length can be as much as a fraction of a millimeter when the velocity of the system is as low 1/10,000th the speed of ltght. Conceivably these effects could cause ' defocusing of optical instruments carried on space flights.


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