Relativistic analysis of the dielectric Einstein box: Abraham, Minkowski and total energymomentum tensors
Abstract
We analyse the “Einstein box” thought experiment and the definition of the momentum of light inside matter. We stress the importance of the total energymomentum tensor of the closed system (electromagnetic field plus material medium) and derive in detail the relativistic expressions for the Abraham and Minkowski momenta, together with the corresponding balance equations for an isotropic and homogeneous medium. We identify some assumptions hidden in the Einstein box argument, which make it weaker than it is usually recognized. In particular, we show that the Abraham momentum is not uniquely selected as the momentum of light in this case.
 Publication:

Physics Letters A
 Pub Date:
 April 2011
 DOI:
 10.1016/j.physleta.2011.03.015
 arXiv:
 arXiv:1103.1654
 Bibcode:
 2011PhLA..375.1703R
 Keywords:

 Physics  Classical Physics;
 General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology;
 Physics  Optics
 EPrint:
 Phys.Lett.A375:17031709,2011