The Simple Explanation
Did you know that the fastest speed any moving object can attain in the universe is that of the speed of light? Did you know also that regardless of motion relativity, the speed of light is constant value?
Brian Greene, attempts to simplify the scientific explanation of the speed of light. He starts off with simple background knowledge. It is basic that time and distance are fundamental quantities that define what the speed is. Then he illustrated the concept of special relativity using imaginations of three simple activities as examples. These are:
- Baseball catching game between two friends. The speed of the ball in relation to each friend standing is 20 feet per second.
- The ball became a granade after an electric storm. Friend A who was ready to catch had to run for hislife at speed 12 feet per second, after realizing Friend B was tossing a granade instead of a ball. Then the speed of the approaching granade would be (20 – 12 =) 8 feet per second. So because Friend A is running it appears that the granade speed is less than 20 feet per second.
- The avalanches experience. Here as the snow rumbles toward you, your inclination is to turn and run away from it. This will cause the speed of the approaching snow to decrease. So a by-stander would perceive the snow speed to be greater than that perceive by the person fleeing for life.
Through these examples, comparisons to light was drawn. Greene, draws an imagination of a light beam as tiny ” bundles or packets” known as photons. So from example 2- Friend B now flashes a beam of laser toward Friend A. Using appropriate measuring equipment – the speed of the approaching photons would be 670 million miles per hour. So the ball, granade and avalanche represented the photons.
Apart from these illustrations, Greene concluded and backed up his explanation of the concept of speed of light with acknowledgements from three early scientists. Namely:
- Maxwell dating back as early as 1800’s whose work on electromagnetic theory of light, slowly convinced the scientific community. He concluded that, as a body is slowing down, the speed of the approaching photons is still 670 miles per hour.
- Dutch physicist, William de Sitter whose work based on fast-moving binary stars. After decades of various experiments, it was verified that the speed of light received from a moving star was the same as that of a stationary star,which was 670 million miles per hour.
- Einstein, the most recent famous physicist embraced the constancy of the speed of light. He concluded that the speed of light cannot be any less than 670 million miles per hour, even if it slows down to a point of appearing stationary.
Therefore, the speed of light is a contant value of 670 million miles per hour. The physicists would be of interest and familiar with this value.
So could you explain any simpler than Greene’s attempt?