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Why does light travel so fast? 
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#19
Sep2709, 11:24 AM

P: 41

could the constant speed of light in a vaccume be a property of space? in a remedial way of thinking about this could the "material" that space is made of be the cause of the constant c?
Off topic, but, i am simply interrested in physics. i have no educational background in the subject i am simply facinated by it so please excuse my ignorance when it presents itself. 


#20
Sep2909, 04:23 AM

P: 568

Maxwell used that fact to calculate, if an electromagnetic wave did exist, which they didn't know at the time, then that's the speed that it would have. When people looked at that calculated number, they noticed that it was the same as the measured speed of light. That's how people found out that light is an electromagnetic wave. 


#21
Sep2909, 06:23 AM

P: 59

If you are on a ship travelling near light speed pass Earth, and you see someone shooting a light beam at the moon, if you measure the time, I think the distance between the source of light and the moon surface will be shortened, so if you divide the distance by time, you still get the same speed. 


#22
Sep2909, 08:17 AM

P: 15,319

A more clean example is turniong on a flashlight inside the relativistic spaceship. Observers on Earth and observers in the spaceship both measure the speed of the beam as c. The reason it is not a paradox is that, in the relativistc spaceship, time is dilated (relative to Earth), including their stopwatches. 


#23
Sep2909, 08:21 AM

P: 59

Pardon me if I get it wrong, but doesn't dilation mean time taken is longer? So it should get "stretched" instead of being "compressed"?



#24
Sep2909, 08:34 AM

P: 15,319

I mean, I know what you're saying. I'm just not sure the message is going to be clear to truhaht. 


#25
Sep2909, 08:37 AM

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#26
Sep2909, 08:50 AM

P: 2,158

c = 1 in natural units. And in natural units, it is natural to consider c to be dimensionless. It is legitimate to assign Time and Length the same dimensions, so that speeds become dimensionless numbers. In principle, you could do that in any unit system, but the fundamental physics equations strongly suggest that this should be done in natural units.
So, we can say that c = 1 and that 1 is not a large number at all. The reason why c is large in SI units is because of the way we decided to define the meter and second. Note that it doesn't make sense to consder a dimensionful number to be large or small. So, if you say that c is large in SI units, what you mean is that: c* second/meter is large Now, if we evaluate this in natural units in which c = 1 (and dimensionless), this tells you that the second is huge compared to the meter. So, relative to a consistent definition of the unit of time relative to the unit of spatial distance, we have decided to use inconsistent units for time and spatial distances. For historic reasons we decided to define units so that the older definitions would still be approximately valid. And a long time ago the smallest units for lengths and time intervals that were used a lot in practice were the smallest quantities that were still relevant for humans. This means that the reason why c is large in SI units is because we are very slow. We can only perceive changes that happen on extremely long time scales compared to our size. If things happen too fast we perceive that as in instant change, we don't see that the change in fact happened gradually. 


#27
Sep2909, 09:24 AM

P: 15,319

"Why does matter travel at a glacial pace compared to EMR?" 


#28
Sep2909, 09:37 AM

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#29
Oct209, 08:56 PM

P: 15




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