[< Prev Page] [SEARCH] [HOME] [Next Page >]

front button Front: 186272 IT'S NOT JUST A GOOD IDEA IT'S THE LAW

There was a time when it was "common knowledge" that it would be impossible for people to travel faster than the speed of sound, and still be able to communicate: Because you would be traveling faster than the sound of your voice, your words could never reach the front of your vessel, because they would have to travel faster than the speed of sound to do so. The laws of physics dictate that it is impossible for sound to travel faster than the air can transmit the pressure waves it is conveyed through.

In case you haven't noticed, that theory has fallen by the wayside, and people travel on the Concorde every day without having their conversations interrupted: Within the airplane, the sound travels the same speed relative to the conversing parties as it would if they were sitting at rest. Compared with a stationary observer on the ground, the sound waves of the conversation are moving at more than twice the natural speed of sound, in apparent violation of the laws of physics. This seeming contradiction is made possible by the closed environment of the aircraft, isolating its interior into a frame of reference that is independent of the outside world.

Now we come to the speed of light in a vacuum, measured from a stationary position on the ground - approximately 186,272 miles per second, or 2.997925 x 1010 centimeters per second. One of the consequences of Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity is that nothing can exceed the speed of light: The laws of physics dicatate that it's an impossible feat to achieve.

Is there an echo in here???

back button Back: BREAK IT WHEN YOU CAN

In honor of Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer, the inventor of geostationary communications satellites, and many other intellectual achievements, I reiterate (perhaps slightly paraphrased) "Clarke's Law:" When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is impossible, he is most probably wrong. If he states, however, that something is possible, he is almost certainly right.

Now we've got another situation where the "laws of physics" tell us that something is impossible: It's another obstacle to be overcome. There is no doubt in my mind that the "speed of light" limitation is another "law of nature" that will fall, in time, to the creative power of the human mind. I hope to live to see it happen...

For what it's worth, yes, I am mocking the expression "It's not just a good idea, it's the law!" Arbitrary limitations have no more place in the "laws of physics" than they do on our roads: The measure of a "safe" speed is whether an accident occurs or not: "Safety is no accident" - literally: If there is no accident, the driving is safe. But, that's another story...

As always, comments are always welcome. We appreciate your feedback.

Return to the top of this page

The Speed of Light$19.95 Size: Color: Qty:

Return to the top of this page

FredLinesTM T-Shirts Home Page

The Speed of Light / Webmaster / Last modified March 5, 2005 @ 12:16 pm

FredLines™ T-Shirts
P.O. Box 1430
Saugus, MA 01906 USA
(617) 792-4320
(10:00am-6:00pm Eastern)

This Web site, the pages and images it contains, and the t-shirt designs expressed, are Copyright 1997-2012 by FredLines™ T-Shirts. All rights reserved. The pages and graphic images may be downloaded only for the purpose of browsing in this store. They may not be copied or used for any other purpose without the express prior written permission of FredLines™ T-Shirts. Manufacturing rights for the t-shirt designs are reserved by FredLines™ T-Shirts. Thank you for your cooperation.