# Hypothesis about speed of light

• DonnieD
In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of the speed of vacuum and how it relates to the speed of light. Some participants argue that the vacuum does not have a speed, while others suggest that it should be considered as the reference frame for measuring the speed of light. The idea of the vacuum being "nothing" is also debated, with some pointing out its role in cosmology and the effects it has on surrounding objects. Overall, the discussion highlights the complexities and nuances of understanding the properties of the vacuum.
DonnieD
if we assume the light it is a wave that travels in the vacuum to speed c, then since the vacuum is firm regarding whichever reference system the light will travel to c in every reference system, for this reason?

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I hate when a language problem prevents me from understanding a question! Exactly what do you mean by "the vacuum is firm"?

i mean static, immovable, speed of vacuum is 0, in every reference system.
sorry, i used an on line dictionary.

DonnieD said:
i mean static, immovable, speed of vacuum is 0, in every reference system.
sorry, i used an on line dictionary.

How exactly do you measure the speed of vacuum to know that it is 0 in every frame?

Zz.

DonnieD said:
i mean static, immovable, speed of vacuum is 0, in every reference system.
sorry, i used an on line dictionary.
"Speed of vacuum"? (And I want no jokes about Hoovers here!)

ZapperZ said:
How exactly do you measure the speed of vacuum to know that it is 0 in every frame?

I think what he means is that since we can't really measure the speed of vacuum because in a true vacuum there isn't anything to measure. Since there isn't anything, then nothing is moving and so its speed is 0. But if that were through, would it not mean that light moving through other materials would move at different relative speeds?

I'm quite new to the special relativity, so I apologize if I don't make any sense or said something obviously wrong.

kkrizka said:
I think what he means is that since we can't really measure the speed of vacuum because in a true vacuum there isn't anything to measure. Since there isn't anything, then nothing is moving and so its speed is 0. But if that were through, would it not mean that light moving through other materials would move at different relative speeds?

I'm quite new to the special relativity, so I apologize if I don't make any sense or said something obviously wrong.

Be very careful here. "nothing is moving" is different than having speed of 0! An empty set (i.e. {}) is not the same as a set of 0 (i.e. {0}).

Zz.

DonnieD said:
i mean static, immovable, speed of vacuum is 0, in every reference system.

Hi DonnieD!

The vacuum is not static - it does not have a speed.

If it had a zero speed (or any veocity), then there would be an "absolute speed", which Einstein showed there isn't.

if the vacuum of free space truly is nothing, nothing at all, no aether nor anything else, then there is no meaning to the notion of the vacuum moving. if that is the case, there remains nothing to differentiate between two inertial observers that happen to be in motion relative to each other. there is no way to say that it is Observer A who is moving while Observer B is stationary or the other way around. so then both Observer A and Observer B must have the same laws of physics applying to each of them which means they both must observer (or measure) the speed of propagation of EM (as well as the speed of propagation of gravity or any other fundamental action) to be the same.

kkrizka said:
I think what he means is that since we can't really measure the speed of vacuum because in a true vacuum there isn't anything to measure. Since there isn't anything, then nothing is moving and so its speed is 0.

thanks, yes i wanted to say that one, we can consider the vacuum the space-time?

tiny-tim said:
If it had a zero speed (or any veocity), then there would be an "absolute speed", which Einstein showed there isn't.

Hi tiny-tim!
i'm not sure of this, if vacuum had a speed this would be always 0 in all the systems, therefore all would be in agreement with that Einstein said.
I recognize that does not have much sense to define the speed of the vacuum, but to say that the speed of the light in the vacuum is c, and so relatively to vacuum, isn't also an affermation that doesn't have sense in equal misure?

excuse me but I am still using a translator, I could have written mistaken things without know it, and thanks to all!

DonnieD said:
{snip} I recognize that does not have much sense to define the speed of the vacuum, but to say that the speed of the light in the vacuum is c, and so relatively to vacuum, isn't also an affirmation that doesn't have sense in equal measure?

Hi DonnieD!

Speed must be measured relative to something.

When we say that the speed of the light in the vacuum is c, we mean its speed relative to the observer.

Perhaps this just a matter of English - we only say "speed in the vacuum" to distinguish it from "in air" or "in water" - we don't mean "speed relative to the vacuum."

I don't think we can call the vacuum of space "nothing". In cosmology, distant galaxies are observed to be receding from us at greater than c, but the explanation is that they are actually stationary relative to the local vacuum they are embeddded in and that they are being carried along by the expanding vacuum. Light coming from the distant galaxy that is receding from us at 5c starts out its journey at -4 c relative to us, while maintaining a speed of c relative to the local vacuum. Nothing can move faster than c relative to the local nothing. The nothing around a massive body is curved resulting in the bending of light rays and defining the trajectories of orbiting bodies. This "nothing" is curved, warped, expanded, accelerated, stretched in ways that that have tangible measurable effects. It is a very interesting nothing :P

kev said:
… but the explanation is that they are actually stationary relative to the local vacuum they are embeddded in and that they are being carried along by the expanding vacuum. Light coming from the distant galaxy that is receding from us at 5c starts out its journey at -4 c relative to us, while maintaining a speed of c relative to the local vacuum. Nothing can move faster than c relative to the local nothing. …

No, these galaxies are not regarded as stationary - nor are they - they move around just as our local group of galaxies move relative to each other.

Light is not regarded as "maintaining a speed of c relative to the local vacuum" , but as maintaining a speed of c relative to any local observer.

Nothing can move faster than c relative to any local observer.

tiny-tim said:
No, these galaxies are not regarded as stationary - nor are they - they move around just as our local group of galaxies move relative to each other.

Light is not regarded as "maintaining a speed of c relative to the local vacuum" , but as maintaining a speed of c relative to any local observer.

Nothing can move faster than c relative to any local observer.

Well, that last post was slightly "tongue in cheek" but there are some serious points buried in it. Of course I agree that local groups of galaxies move relative to each other (proper motion) but the relative motion is pretty small compared to the speed of light and superluminal recession velocities and can be aproximated as stationary relative to the local "fabric of space". In the absence of any local observers, what regulates the speed of light? Does light still travel at c relative to the local spacetime when no one is looking? In the FLRW metric objects are swept away from us at superluminal speeds carried along by the expanding fabric of space. The time it takes a photon to reach us from a distant galaxy is determined by the speed of light relative to expanding fabric of space that is acting like a conveyor belt going away from us. The time it takes a photon to reach us from a star 10 billion light years away from us is a lot longer than 10 billion years because the photon is going against this flow outward flow of space. So imagine a star is receding from us at the 6 times the speed of light. A local observer measure the star to be moving at 0.5c relative to him but going away from us. The local observer is then moving at 5.5c relative to us. Now the challenge to you is to explain why the observer can move at 5.5c relative to us without using phrases like "fabric of space", "expansion of space", "local space", "spacetime geometry" or anything that implies that the vacuum of space is anything more than nothing. "Nothing" is here defined as something that can not expand, stretch, curve, move, regulate, carry or have any physical properties.

DonnieD said:
i mean static, immovable, speed of vacuum is 0, in every reference system.
sorry, i used an on line dictionary.
I think I have read something about quantum vacuum being invariant under Lorentz transformations. In that sense it would be "immovable", wouldn't it?

Does anyone have a reference to such an article?

Putte said:
I think I have read something about quantum vacuum being invariant under Lorentz transformations. In that sense it would be "immovable", wouldn't it?
The behavior of the quantum vacuum is the same in all inertial frames (which is equivalent to being invariant under the Lorentz transformations), but then so is the behavior of the classical electromagnetic field. I don't understand why you would say this means the quantum vacuum or the classical electromagnetic field are "immovable" though--for something to be moving or non-moving, doesn't it have to have a definite position (or be composed of parts which have definite positions, like particles of aether) which is either changing or not changing as a function of time?

DonnieD said:
I recognize that does not have much sense to define the speed of the vacuum, but to say that the speed of the light in the vacuum is c, and so relatively to vacuum, isn't also an affermation that doesn't have sense in equal misure?

There's a lot of things you are tripping over here. The speed of something in vacuum is NOT the same as the speed of something RELATIVE to that vacuum. The speed of something is always measured relative to something else. If you see something moving at some speed, it is relative to YOU, not relative to the "medium" that surrounds it.

There are a lot of confusing premise in this thread. Because of that, I am highly skeptical that you'll get any kind of a rational answer out of this jumbled mess of confusion.

Zz.

JesseM said:
The behavior of the quantum vacuum is the same in all inertial frames (which is equivalent to being invariant under the Lorentz transformations), but then so is the behavior of the classical electromagnetic field. I don't understand why you would say this means the quantum vacuum or the classical electromagnetic field are "immovable" though--for something to be moving or non-moving, doesn't it have to have a definite position (or be composed of parts which have definite positions, like particles of aether) which is either changing or not changing as a function of time?
I had some dim idea about the difference between quantum vacuum and the aether; that you may see that you are moving relative to the aether, but that you can't see that you are moving relative to the quantum vacuum (since it is invariant).

Btw, is the classic electromagnetic field really invariant under Lorentz transformations? Can't we start with an electrostatic field and then by a Lorentz transformation get magnetic fields?

(Sorry if I'm a bit unclear. I studied theoretical physics about 25 years ago, but have not thought about it much since then... I'm also not very comfortable with English. :shy: )

Putte said:
Btw, is the classic electromagnetic field really invariant under Lorentz transformations?
Yes.
Putte said:
Can't we start with an electrostatic field and then by a Lorentz transformation get magnetic fields?
By switching between frames, you can show that a magnetic force on a moving test charge in one frame can be understood purely as an electric force in the test charge's rest frame (remember that the magnetic force on a charge is a function of its velocity, so a charge at rest experiences no magnetic force)--the diagrams on this page have some nice illustrations of this. But that doesn't mean there's some preferred frame with no magnetic force, it's just a consequence of the fact that the test charge is at rest in the second frame--if you added a new test charge to the second frame which was in motion in that frame, then you'd need to take into account the magnetic force to correctly predict its behavior. The fact that different frames all make the same predictions about the behavior of test charges if they use the classical electromagnetic equations in their frame, despite disagreeing on the relative contributions of the electric and magnetic force on each particular test charge, is a nice way of showing that classical electromagnetism is invariant under the Lorentz transformation.

kev said:
distant galaxies are observed to be receding from us at greater than c

Just curious, how does one observe something moving away at v>c?

nanobug said:
Just curious, how does one observe something moving away at v>c?
Keep in mind that nothing moves faster than c in a local sense--if you were in the neighborhood of that galaxy, you would still see light moving faster relative to you than the stars of the galaxy. But in the simplest coordinate system used in cosmology, with our galaxy at rest in these coordinates, the space between us and distant galaxies can expand so that the distance between them and us increases faster than c. And yet it is possible for light emitted by such a galaxy to reach us eventually, as discussed on http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=0009F0CA-C523-1213-852383414B7F0147&page=4 ).

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Also keep in mind that the relativity-based speed limit doesn't actually put a limit on what you can see in the same way that the speed of sound doesn't prevent you from hearing a plane moving faster than the speed of sound. It's non-physical, but if an object were to fly by you at greater than the speed of light, it would work exactly the same as hearing a supersonic plane. You wouldn't see it approach because it is "outrunning" its own light waves, which would pile up into a "light cone" (like the mach cone) and then you'd see it looking relatively normal (but very doppler-shifted) after it passed.

I believe this is what happens with the phenomena of Chernekov radiation.

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JesseM said:
the space between us and distant galaxies can expand so that the distance between them and us increases faster than c. And yet it is possible for light emitted by such a galaxy to reach us eventually

I was actually able to find the paper on arXiv which addresses these common misconceptions:

http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0310808"

Thanks, I now stand corrected!

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## 1. What is the speed of light?

The speed of light is a physical constant that is defined as the speed at which light travels in a vacuum. It is approximately 299,792,458 meters per second or 186,282 miles per second.

## 2. How was the speed of light first measured?

The first successful measurement of the speed of light was done by Danish astronomer Ole Rømer in the late 17th century. He observed the eclipses of Jupiter's moons and noticed that the time between eclipses varied depending on the position of Earth in its orbit. This led him to calculate the speed of light to be around 220,000 kilometers per second.

## 3. Is the speed of light constant?

Yes, according to Einstein's theory of relativity, the speed of light is constant and independent of the observer's frame of reference. This means that no matter how fast an object is moving, the speed of light will always be the same.

## 4. Can the speed of light be exceeded?

Based on our current understanding of physics, it is not possible to exceed the speed of light. As an object approaches the speed of light, its mass increases exponentially, making it impossible to accelerate further.

## 5. How does the speed of light affect time and space?

Einstein's theory of relativity also states that time and space are not absolute, but are relative to the observer's frame of reference. This means that as an object approaches the speed of light, time slows down and space contracts. This phenomenon is known as time dilation and length contraction.

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