1735Views14Replies

Author Options:

Why does light move? Answered

From the theory of relativity, we learn that time is relative to the observer. And that time starts going slower and slower as the observer (reference point) moves faster and faster. And if the reference point reaches the speed of light (c), time stops, and if it theoretically surpasses it, time would go backwards.
Now, light travels at the speed of light, so if we consider a photon as the reference point, isn't time still for it? And if time is stopped, how does the photon ever get anywhere?

Comments

The forums are retiring in 2021 and are now closed for new topics and comments.
0
kelseymh
kelseymh

Best Answer 10 years ago

Time is stopped within the photons frame of reference. In that same frame of reference, everything and everywhere is all at the same place. So the photon doesn't have to go anywhere, it already is there.

Of course, this whole argument is just juvenile sophistry. 

Light moves because a time varying electric field induces a time varying magnetic field, which induces an electric field, and so on.  The wave equation you can derive from Maxwell's equations includes a numerical constant which specifics the speed of the wave.  Having such a numerical constant is inconsistent with Newtonian mechanics (technically, it is inconsistent with the Galilean rules for velocity transformation).

Einstein's insight was that Maxwell's equations are right, and the Galilean transforms are wrong.  He showed that using the Lorentz transformations for velocity yields Maxwell's equations for light, and in the limit of low velocities, reduces to the familiar Galilean result.  It is only in the intermediate regime (velocities high compared with normal experience, fractions of c) that the Lorentz transformations give unexpected results.

0
frollard
frollard

Answer 10 years ago

Addendum: May I suggest the OP read the book "a brief history of time" by Stephen Hawking. The later chapters may or may not melt your brain, but the earlier stuff explains relativity in the simplest possible terms.

0
nickodemus
nickodemus

Answer 10 years ago

Whoa. You just melted my face.

0
frollard
frollard

Answer 10 years ago

Top notch answer - tonnes of info and not too impossible to reference definitions for each component of the argument to further understand whats going on.

0
kelseymh
kelseymh

Answer 10 years ago

No, that was the laser.

0
kelseymh
kelseymh

Answer 10 years ago

:-D Check my profile. I don't just play one on TV ;->

0
orksecurity
orksecurity

10 years ago

It sounds like you're basically expressing a relativistic version of Zeno's Paradox (which, by ignoring the fact that integrating an infinite series can yield a definite finite value, attempts to prove that nothing can ever reach its destination).

0
kelseymh
kelseymh

Answer 10 years ago

Sort of, although he's premising it on a deliberate arithmetic fallacy, whereas the original version was arithmetically correct, but relied on a misinterpretation of convergent series.

0
lemonie
lemonie

10 years ago

You've pegged this to a photon.
Remember that a photon is an abstract-concept that is useful for some situations (when you're digesting Kelsey's excellent answer)

L

0
orksecurity
orksecurity

Answer 10 years ago

Agreed -- Kelsey, you may want to refactor your response as a separate Answer so it can be directly voted as Best. (I figured I'd pass the suggestion along since people keep giving it to me...)

0
kelseymh
kelseymh

Answer 10 years ago

It is a top-level answer, and started out that way. You might be getting fooled by yet another annoying I'bles bug :-)

0
caarntedd
caarntedd

Answer 10 years ago

Light moves because it got in Chuck Norris' way.

That is also why it moves so fast.

0
Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

Answer 10 years ago

All matter and energy in the universe, including stars in distant galaxies, is/are trying to get away from Chuck Norris.  Astronomers call this phenomenon Hubble's Law, even though the underlying cause is Chuck Norris.