# What is the major difference between special relativity and general relativity?

### 5 Answers

- nebLv 71 month agoFavorite Answer
Two to three orders of magnitude of complexity.

Special relativity treats all inertial reference frames as equivalent, meaning the laws of physics are invariant (look exactly the same) for all inertial frames. So, reference frames are related by a restricted set of transformations. Note that we can (and do) use accelerations (non-inertial frames) in special relativity but we CANNOT consider them equivalent to an inertial frame. So, invariance does not hold true between the inertial and non-inertial frames.

General relativity extends the invariance of physical laws to ALL reference frames. All reference frames are equivalent in general relativity. In order to do this, we need to be able to make non-inertial frames equivalent to a rest inertial frame. In order to do that, gravity has to be introduced as spacetime curvature equivalent to the coordinate curvature of non-inertial frames. So, locally the laws of physics are invariant for a body at rest with respect to a gravitating object and a non-inertial frame being conventionally accelerated.

What that all boils down to is Einstein’s field equations that relate spacetime curvature to mass/energy. The equations are coordinate system (reference frame) independent.

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- Andrew SmithLv 71 month ago
Special relativity deals with inertial frames of reference. General relativity deals with accelerated frames of reference. This is the primary difference between the two.

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- JimLv 71 month ago
*Special relativity applies to all physical phenomena in the absence of gravity.

*General relativity explains the law of gravitation and its relation to other forces of nature. It applies to the cosmological and astrophysical realm, including astronomy.

- JimLv 71 month agoReport
I REALLY do NOT like answering Anonymous questions!!!

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- Markus ImhofLv 71 month ago
Gravity.

Or, more general, non-inertial, i.e. accelerating, reference frames.

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