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Curvature of light and its effect on reality

  1. Sep 15, 2005 #1
    Today my teacher mentioned a past article in scientific american that dealt with the modification of reality due to relativity.

    According to her (and i am not sure this is true) light can be perceived in different places according to the position of different people. For instance, if i am standing in the center of a football field and see a beam of light hit the scoreboard, a person standing in an endzone might see that same beam of light hitting a tree nearby. from this, she suggested that the two people would be perceiving a different reality, and she suggested we apply the idea to a philosophical subject we were studying.

    I have never heard of anything like this, though i do understand relativity and, to a certain extent, quantum mechanics. however, my teacher was very adament about this article's content.

    has anyone heard of anything like this? i don't want to tell my teacher she is dead wrong, so similar things would also be welcomed.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2005 #2
    Perhaps your teacher misinterpreted gravitational lensing. Gravitational lensing is an effect in general relativity where the gravity of a body causes light to take a curved path. It is true that if you look at distant stars and there is a body of large density between you and the distant star (such as a black hole or the Sun) then you could see the distant stars in a place where they really aren't. This is due to the fact that the light travelling from the star will curve around the Sun, so you'll see it in a different place than it actually is. This doesn't represent a change in reality though. In reality, the star is still where it is, no matter who observes it. It's the same idea as normal lenses or mirrors. If you look at an object in a mirror, the light from that object bounces off the mirror and comes to your eyes, so you see the object in a place where it really isn't. That doesn't mean that there's some sort of change in reality. In reality the object exists in one place, but because you have a mirror you can see it in two places.
  4. Sep 15, 2005 #3
    The article might have been talking about gravitational lensing, but that couldn't be percived on Earth like that, at least. Do you have a link to the article by any chance?

    I know how you feel. I got into arguments with my philosophy teacher about physics (usually GR) several times.

    EDIT: Not fast enough...
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2005
  5. Sep 15, 2005 #4
    Unfortunately, I don't have the article. However, thank you for helping with what you could. I thought the argument seemed a bit illogical.
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