science of speed

Speed of Light Aesthetic

Today is the 340th anniversary of the determination of the speed of light:

By timing the eclipses of the Jupiter moon Io, Rømer estimated that light would take about 22 minutes to travel a distance equal to the diameter of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. This would give light a velocity of about 220,000 kilometres per second in SI units, about 26% lower than the true value of 299,792 km/s.

Einstein may have been wrong about the speed of light, new theory suggests

  • Albert Einstein was, undoubtedly, a genius. But it turns out he might have been wrong about one thing.
  • Professors João Magueijo of Imperial College London and and Niayesh Afshordi of the University of Waterloo in Canada are challenging Einstein’s belief that the speed of light is a constant — the basis of his Theory of General Relativity. 
  • Magueijo and Afshordi have new plans to test a theory that suggests light moved at an infinite speed at the start of the universe.
  • If they succeed in proving their theory, their findings could offer new answers to questions about the Big Bang’s effects many scientists already thought they’d settled. Read more

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Mythbusters Physics: Relative Velocity

The Mythbusters tested what would happen if a ball was shot at 60 mph off the back of a truck travelling at 60 mph to see what would happen.

It became a perfect example of the relative nature of physics - showing that velocity can vectorially add together. 60 mph in one direction cancels the 60 mph in the other, meaning a net velocity of zero.


The surefire way to never find anything new in science

“You account for your systematics as best as you can, you perform your experiment, and you publish your results, no matter what they are. They might not be in line with the other results of the time, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The new, outlying data point you produced may be evidence that you did something wrong, but it just may be the nudge that takes you one step closer to scientific truth than anyone in the field would realize!”

A little over five years ago, the OPERA collaboration announced an astounding result: that neutrinos sent through more than 700km of rock arrived at their destination 60.7 nanoseconds faster than they ought to. That was particularly disturbing, because the speed they ought to have arrived at was the speed of light, which nothing can move faster than. Either something very, very funny was going on with the experiment, or they had just broken the laws of physics. OPERA, quite famously, turned out to be wrong. The culprit turned out to be nothing more than a loose cable. A lot of people jumped on OPERA for publishing and publicizing a false result, but that completely misstates and misinterprets how science works, and ought to work. Rather than forcing your experimental results to agree with the previously established results, it’s vital to publish exactly what you find!

Fitting your data to previous results is common, but it’s a catastrophic and cowardly way to ensure that science never advances. Come get the full story today.

The Poky Speed of Light

Radio frequencies like the frequencies of visible (and invisible) light are all an aspect of the same electromagnetic spectrum that in a vacuum travels at 299,792,458 meters or 186,282 miles per second. That’s appropriately 7 times around Earth’s equator in a single second.

As the bottom of the top chart states, Your mileage may vary. A good example of this is communicating with Mars. Depending where we are in our orbits relative to each other that 5.15 minutes can actually vary from 4 to as long as 24 minutes.

Keep looking up.


Bill Nye’s answer when asked: “Who would win in a fight between you and Neil deGrasse Tyson”.



Concept art for some sort of elseworlds story based on Old Anime and Tokusatsu

Superman - Stuff like Gigantor/Tetsujin #28

Batman and Robin - Battle of the planets/Science ninja team Gatchaman

Aquaman - Ultraman

Wonder Woman - Captain Harlock

Green lantern - Space adventure Cobra

Flash - Speed Racer/Mach Go Go Go!

The size of the Universe is somewhat difficult to define. According to a restrictive definition, the Universe is everything within our connected spacetime that could have a chance to interact with us and vice versa. According to the general theory of relativity, some regions of space may never interact with ours even in the lifetime of the Universe due to the finite speed of light and the ongoing expansion of space. For example, radio messages sent from Earth may never reach some regions of space, even if the Universe were to exist forever: space may expand faster than light can traverse it.
—  Wikipedia

Scientists slow the speed of light

A team of Scottish scientists has made light travel slower than the speed of light.

They sent photons - individual particles of light - through a special mask. It changed the photons’ shape - and slowed them to less than light speed.

The photons remained travelling at the lower speed even when they returned to free space.

The experiment is likely to alter how science looks at light.

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