Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

If the speed of light were zero

  1. Aug 5, 2008 #1
    One problem that I have with physics is the notion that we can not go faster than the speed of light. I believe the solution is to consider the speed of light to be zero, and we are traveling at the speed of light and can never slow down completely. This may be considered to be just the same concept but in reverse, however, from this new concept it should be possible to go slower than 0. Please suggest experiments to test this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2008 #2
    No information or matter can travel faster than the speed of light. Wikipedia: "The equations of relativity show that, for an object traveling faster than c, some physical quantities would be not represented by real numbers."

    The speed of light is the speed of anything having 0 rest mass. The speed of light itself is 299,792.458 km/s. I'm not sure if you can arbitrarily set the speed of light to zero, because then all subluminal speeds would then be negative. I may be wrong, but I think having c=0 might mess up some equations (E=mc2). Maybe consider c=1? Subluminal speeds would then be fractions, not negative.

    Light itself can never slow down. We ( I assume you mean human beings), on the other hand, are traveling far slower than the speed of light. It is impossible for anything with mass to travel at the speed of light.

    Again, I'm not sure if subluminal speeds can be negative or not. The speed of light has been verified by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light#Measurement_of_the_speed_of_light". If I've made any mistakes in my understanding feel free to correct me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  4. Aug 6, 2008 #3
    But if we all traveled at the speed of light, in which direction would we be traveling in?
  5. Aug 6, 2008 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    If a baseball were too heavy to throw would a left-handed pitcher be better than a right-handed one?
  6. Aug 6, 2008 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    What do you mean by "consider" the speed of light to be zero? It is a fact that the speed of light is NOT 0 and I cannot see anything to be gained by "considering" something false.
  7. Aug 6, 2008 #6
    This simply doesn't work. Setting C=1 works, and is done in GR for simplicity, but your idea would cause numerous problems with established physical theories. Most basically of all, we are NOT going faster than light is.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook