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Feb26-09, 01:14 PM
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Quote Quote by mintparasol View Post
How is this possible? Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light so light cannot travel at the speed of light+a recession speed.
Also if what you say is true then red shift would be impossible as the recession speed the light gains would prevent the waveform from lengthening into the red end of the spectrum.
Please explain, I'm quite confused by this.
Hello mint,
sorry, I didn't see your post until just now.
There are two Einstein Relativities. The 1905 one was SR (special) and the later extension to include curved and dynamically changing geometry is the 1915 (general) one.

Every man-made mathematical theory has limits to its applicability and cannot be pushed too far. As a student when you learn the math model of something you are also told the limits---how far you can trust its predictions, where it blows up and fails to compute meaningful numbers, or starts to diverge from reality.

A major fault of pop-sci journalism is it often fails to make this clear.

The 1905 special only applies locally in situations that are approximately uncurved and approximately non-expanding. It is only perfectly right in situations that dont exist, namely where space is perfectly uncurved, or flat, triangles always add up to 180 degrees, parallel lines...etc. etc. and that simply is never true. And locally means temporarily too, since we are talking spacetime.

Basically, 1915 general trumps 1905 special. But as a rule nature deviates from static flat geometry so slightly and slowly that 1905 works admirably well! It is only over very long distances and time periods that deviation is pronouced enough to be intrusive.

Be sure you have watched Wright's balloon model, the animated film. Better watch several times.
A galaxy (the white spiral whirls) is at rest with respect to the microwave background if it stays at the same longitude latitude on the balloon. All the galaxies are at rest. The distances between them increase.

We have this rule that information cannot travel faster than c.

Think about two galaxies, both sitting still relative to background, and the distance between them increasing. Neither is going anywhere, no information is being transmitted from one place to another, by the mere fact that the distance between is increasing.

Neither of the galaxies could overtake and pass a photon!

The speed law only applies to motion within a given approximately flat frame of reference, where SR applies.

So two things can sit still, and the distance between them can be increasing at 4 or 5 times the speed of light, and nobody is breaking any rules.

You can see that in the balloon animation. The wiggles that change color and have lengtheningwavelengths represent photons. They move at a standard speed like one millimeter per second. But if you watch alertly you will see that after a photon has left the neighborhood of some galaxy the separation between it and the galaxy will begin to grow faster than c, and after a while will be several times c. It's remoteness is increasing several times the rate it can travel on its own.