Wednesday, August 27, 2008

At The Speed of Light

It's now 8:00 am in the morning, and I just had this flash of inspiration whilst in the toilet; not too glamourous a situation for a brainwave, but oh well. Hopefully you all can understand what I'm about to type out.

Many years ago, Einstein as a young lad was thinking to himself: "What would happen or what would I see if I travelled at the speed of light? Would I see light waves or photons freeze in their tracks because I'm moving just as fast as them and thus the relative velocity between them and me is zero?"

And many years later, Einstein was convinced that no matter how fast one travels at, even at the speed of light, one will still see light travel at the speed of light.


Well, to first understand the situation, you must first understand the fundamental problem in Einstein's gedanken, that is, can you even see a stationary light wave?

The answer is a resounding and definite NO! Light, being composed of photons, are massless particles. From Einstein's mass energy equation, we therefore know that the total energy of a photon must be composed of its momentum-energy, that is, its kinetic energy, because it has no mass at all.

Now, to view a photon that is stationary, is then to view a photon without its kinetic energy - by denying a photon its kinetic energy, one essentialy annihillates that photon from sight. By travelling up to the speed of light, and to insist that one can still see light, then the light waves that one sees while travelling at the speed of light, must still be moving, and can't be at zero velocity.

You all got that? Haha.

And I guess I'll stop here for a while - I'll come back to explain further (in another post) why you need to be massless to move at the speed of light. :)

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