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Is it possible to see at high speeds?

  1. Apr 16, 2010 #1
    Is it possible to see at high speeds. If we speed past earth in a spaceship that is travelling near the velocity of light, would we be able to see the earth at all?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2010 #2
    I would think so, although it wouldn't be the same as what the Lorentz transformations specify. (Those provide information about measurements made with distributed clocks, etc.) With regard to seeing fast moving objects, one would need to take into account Doppler shifts, different distances to different points on the object's surface at a give instant, etc. It's an interesting problem.
  4. Apr 16, 2010 #3
    I meant to say that earth's diameter/circumference will be extremely-2 small in comparison to the distance that we would cover in one second.

    While going very fast in a car we are not able to notice even substantially big things (that are near our car) with clarity even if we are not driving (because they move past us in a very short span of time).

    Does it mean that increasing the distance of our spaceship from the earth would solve the problem to some extent. But what would be the real benefit then, we would just be seeing an oval shaped thing instead of a sphere (what about the details on the earth's surface)?

    Or for that matter would we be able to see small things (say a clock) while moving at speeds comparable to the speed of light. Could high speed cameras help us in this regard or they too would produce distorted/unclear pictures?
  5. Apr 16, 2010 #4


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  6. Apr 16, 2010 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    If you already know that the velocity-related effect you are interested in is present at 100 kph then why would you even bother to ask if it is present near the speed of light?
  7. Apr 16, 2010 #6
    Surprisingly, it isn't. See here the correct representation.
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