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Stationary light

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Alright, so I am not a theoretical physicist, but one of my physics buddies and I had this idea today and I wanted to run it by experts to see what out error in thinking is. Heres the concept...

 

What if light was stationary in the universe, and we were moving through it? This would imply that light was somewhat of a 4th dimension, and our observable world was traveling through it at the "speed of light". This would also imply, I suppose, that time would not be the 4th dimension, but a characteristic of matter like gravity? which would say that time does not exist in the absense of matter. The concept of stationary light/moving universe would also explain the constant-ness of the speed of light. it proposes the interesting thought of light being a manifestation of a 4th dimensional object in a 3 dimensional world, which may explain our difficulty of understanding exactly what light is. so where is the error in my thinking here? what other things would this concept imply?

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Hmmm. If you could look at the world from the point-of-view of a photon, it is at rest and everything else is moving at the speed of light. Soooo . . .

 

for time: to the photon, time is standing still. The Lorentz factor for time dilation is sqrt (1 - v^2/c^2). For v = c, the Lorentz factor equals zero! So, for example, the photon travels from the Sun to the Earth instantaneously -- actually it is at rest at the Sun and the Earth travels to it instantly.

 

for space: to the photon, all distances are contracted to zero. (Same Lorentz factor is zero for length contraction.) So the photon at the Sun sees the distance to the Earth as zero.

 

No time. No space.

 

So I guess I don't see why your argument is just about time. But it is interesting.

 

And didn't Einstein say something about if no matter/energy, then no time and space. (But even a no matter/energy universe can still have non-zero curvature (gravity). -- I need help here!

 

And I think you can't consider something at the speed of light as a legitimate frame of reference because the reciprocal Lorentz factor is a divide by zero or infinity. The math blows up.

 

Other thoughts, people?

Edited by IM Egdall

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Alright, so I am not a theoretical physicist, but one of my physics buddies and I had this idea today and I wanted to run it by experts to see what out error in thinking is. Heres the concept...

 

What if light was stationary in the universe, and we were moving through it? This would imply that light was somewhat of a 4th dimension, and our observable world was traveling through it at the "speed of light". This would also imply, I suppose, that time would not be the 4th dimension, but a characteristic of matter like gravity? which would say that time does not exist in the absence of matter. The concept of stationary light/moving universe would also explain the constant-ness of the speed of light. it proposes the interesting thought of light being a manifestation of a 4th dimensional object in a 3 dimensional world, which may explain our difficulty of understanding exactly what light is. so where is the error in my thinking here? what other things would this concept imply?

This sounds like a variation on the "luminiferous aether" theory originally proposed in the late 17th century and finally put to rest in the early 20th century. (ref. http://en.wikipedia....niferous_aether )

 

I have difficulty seeing how "stationary" light in a putative fourth dimension would impinge on objects in our three-dimensional world with the same measured velocity (in a vacuum) regardless of the motion of the emitting object or the observer.

 

It was once thought that time was an entirely separate "dimension" from our three spatial dimensions and the the universe "moved" through time at the same rate for all observers. Einstein mixed this all together and concluded that the space and time that an observer measures (our current four dimensional world) can vary provided we hold the speed of light in a vacuum to be a constant value for all observers. Einstein's proviso was rooted in the equations of James Clerk Maxwell and the null results of the Michelson-Morely experiment.

 

As far as I can tell, your proposal doesn't get us any closer to "understanding exactly what light is" and it doesn't explain our observations any more intuitively than does Einstein' relativity theory.

 

You seek to explain the "constant-ness of the speed of light" by invoking an unknowable fourth dimension through which everything in the universe moves. At the very least your proposal begs the question: "Why does everything in the universe move through the fourth dimension at a constant speed (i.e., the speed of light)?"

 

Chris

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