Why Is The Speed Of Light The Speed Of Light?

You may be familiar with the speed of light, but the reason it exists and how we discovered it is pretty fascinating.

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PBS Space Time videos:

The Speed of Light is NOT About Light


The Geometry of Causality









So when we talk about the speed of light, the first thing to remember is that light is just a sliver of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from gamma rays to radio waves.

So we’re really talking about the speed of electromagnetism.

James Clerk Maxwell was the genius who first described the properties of electromagnetism into physics equations.

From these equations, we can calculate the speed of light 299,792 kilometers per second.

Einstein was able to prove his theory of special relativity that the closer you get to the speed of light, the more time slows down for a person in that relative frame.

And if you were to go the speed of light, time would stop altogether.

So if you were able to travel faster than light through spacetime, time itself would actually flip. Time would go backward. And that would break causality.

The effect would precede cause, which is impossible. The speed of light is the speed of causality.

The other prediction that supports a speed limit is the idea that inertia increases as velocity approaches the speed of light.That means mass increases.

So mass is a speed impediment. Nothing that has mass can go the speed of light.

But if you are massless, you can only go the speed of light, because you have no speed impediments. And photons are massless particles.

Particles that must travel at the speed of light and because they are traveling at the speed of light, time stands still from its point of view.

So really, that video I talked about earlier is all wrong, from the perspective of the photon, that journey would have occurred instantly.

So when you look at a star at night, that massless photon might have traveled a million light-years to reach you, but its experience was instantaneous.

Now there is another theory that’s a little controversial but starting to gain some ground.

It says that the speed of light is actually caused by quantum vacuum fluctuations.

See, quantum field theory claims that empty space is actually not empty at all but filled with quantum fluctuations and virtual particles popping in and out of existence.

And two different teams of researchers have calculated c using electromagnetic properties of the quantum vacuum, so it could be that the quantum foam of virtual particles and fluctuations may be slowing the speed of light.

But what if the speed of light wasn’t the speed of light?

What if Galileo was right and the speed is infinite?

Then nothing would exist. Because matter is made of energy, it would take infinite energy to create any mass. Time and space wouldn’t exist because all things communicate with each other instantaneously. Cause and effect wouldn’t exist.

But if the speed of light were slower, that might be even cooler. Because then we could see all the way back to the big bang.

The speed of light, of course, is just one of many constants in the universe, like gravity, the specific charges and masses of the fundamental particles, quantum effects, and the list goes on.

A whole handful of very specific constants that if they were just a little bit different, we would never exist.

The Bootes Void: A Giant Hole in the Universe

The Boötes Void is giant super void spanning 250 million light years across with almost nothing in it. Its existence has challenged astronomers for decades.

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Isaac Arthur’s YouTube channel:



Photo credits:



astrobob historicmysteries.com

Foam: [email protected]

Video credits Daniel Cortese – alien invasion montage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp2tW…

Have We Found Planet X?

There’s been a lot of noise, especially on social media, about a possible 9th planet being found in the solar system.

Is it real? What’s the evidence? And is this a new thing?

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The ancient Greeks only knew about 5 planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Then in the late 1700s, William Herschel used a new telescope technology to find Uranus. But a wobble in its orbit suggested the presence of another planet…

Using this wobble, mathematicians calculated the position of this 8th planet in 1847, and Neptune was discovered. It was the only planet discovered by math.

Today, astronomers have discovered several asteroids from the Kuiper Belt that have very similar elliptical orbits through the solar system that are so close that it is only a 1 in 15,000 chance of happening at random.

And they are using similar math to map the location of a 9th planet, but one that is very different from the ones we know.

This planet would orbit far outside our current solar system and would take 15,000 years to orbit.

Time will tell whether this proposed planet will be found, but scientists studying the phenomenon at the Subaru Observatory in Hawaii believe they’ll have an answer in 5 years.

Sciencemag article on Planet X


Uranus Perturbations


An article on perturbations


The History of the word “planet”


Retrograde motion


Why Teleportation Would Most Likely Kill You

Teleportation has been a staple of science fiction and futurism for decades. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

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From the story of Gil Perez in 1593 to the Philadelphia Experiment in 1943 to Star Trek, the idea of teleportation is one that captures our collective imaginations. But would the process of taking you apart atom by atom and reconstructing you on the other end have some serious unintended consequences?

Check out these links below for more context on this subject: http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/12/what-ma…

Philadelphia Experiment:




Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know



What Most People Don’t Get About Climate Change

You’ve probably heard a lot about climate change, and you’ve probably already picked a side in this debate. But things change when you look at it from a big picture perspective.

Visit Green Shortz and learn how to do your part to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. https://www.youtube.com/user/GreenTom…

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Voyager At 40: Humanity’s Eternal Message In A Bottle

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The Voyager space probes just turned 40 and are continuing to teach us about the universe.

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Animation of mission https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIvgo…

Fraser Cain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbZ-6…

VSauce https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDrBI…

SpaceRip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seXbr…

NASA Animation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8TA7… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYNIs…

Mashable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iAGr…

Find all the Voyager images here: https://imgur.com/gallery/hq87T

The Voyager probes launched in 1977, but the idea for their mission was conceived 13 years earlier, in 1964.

Gary Flandro, an aerospace engineer working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was tasked with finding ways of exploring the outer gas giants.

While proposing different possible trajectories that could come up over the next 20 years, he noticed a rare alignment of the outer planets that was going to occur in the late 1970s.

All four outer gas giants would line up in such a way that a single probe could slingshot past all four of them. This was a once every 175-year phenomena.

So he created the Planetary Grand Tour – a plan to visit all four gas giants in one shot.

Both probes lifted off in 1977, with Voyager 2 actually launching before Voyager 1, on August twentieth and September fifth, respectively.

But they were named in the order of when they would reach the planets, and Voyager 1 would be traveling faster.

Voyager 1 reached Jupiter on March 5, 1979, and Voyager 2 followed a few months later on July 9.

Together, they discovered that Jupiter has a ring system and found active volcanos on Io, the first active volcano outside planet Earth ever discovered.

They took detailed photos of the Great Red Spot and the clouds in the Jovian atmosphere, studied the cracks in the ice around Europa and took the first pictures of Ganymede.

They also took detailed measurements of Jupiter’s gravitational field and the radiation it carries.


Voyager 1 reached Saturn in November of 1980 and Voyager two followed in August of 1981.

And this is where they parted ways.

Mission scientists were extremely interested in studying the moon Titan after Pioneer 11 photographed a dense atmosphere and organic compounds.

But in order to get a close look at Titan, it required a polar trajectory around Saturn, which means it would be slingshotted up and out of the elliptical plane. Making it impossible to continue on to the other planets.

So Voyager 1 took one for the team and made Saturn the end of its planetary run. It passed 6400 kilometers behind Titan and studied the temperature and composition of its atmosphere.

And then, after a close fly-by of Saturn, the gravity assist propelled Voyager 1 up and out of the elliptical plane faster than any other manmade object in history.

Voyager 2 had some fireworks of its own when it snapped the Pale Blue Dot photo on request from Carl Sagan.

This now iconic photo, taken as Voyager sped away from Saturn, shows Earth as a tiny point of light in the sky, or as Sagan said, a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Voyager 2 continued on to Uranus in January of 1986, and on to Neptune in January 1989.

To this day, it is the only spacecraft that has visited either of these planets. At Neptune, Voyager 2 took a 30-degree turn south and continues to provide information about the sun’s magnetic field and the solar wind.

In the north, Voyager 1’s enormous speed shot it further away from the sun than Pioneer 10, making it the furthest manmade object ever.

And in 2012, NASA announced that Voyager 1 had officially entered the heliopause, the area where the sun’s solar wind meets the cosmic rays of interstellar space.

Making it the first spacecraft to leave the solar system.

There are only 5 spacecraft so far that will eventually leave the solar system, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Pioneer 10 and 11, and the New Horizons spacecraft, and Voyager 1 is traveling faster than all of them. So unless we invent an interstellar warp drive, it will always be the furthest thing we have ever sent anywhere. Ever.


5 Reasons You May Be Living In A Simulation

Are you living in The Matrix? New scientific theories are suggesting that you may be.

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The Simulation Hypothesis, first published by Oxford philosopher/physicist Nick Bostrom, speculates that in the future, our descendants could create computer simulations that would be indistinguishable from reality, and that we may be living in that simulation.

This video is a very high-level overview of the Simulation Hypothesis, here are some links that go much deeper:

Listverse article on Simulation Theory: http://listverse.com/2013/12/02/10-re…

Glitch In the Matrix Subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Glitch_in_th…

Samsung’s new groundbreaking SSD hard drive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mx4Z8…

Nobel Prize Winner George Smoot’s TED Talk on Simulation Theory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chfoo…

Computer code in string theory – James Gates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvMlU…

Interesting discussion on simulation theory: http://physics.stackexchange.com/ques...

Nick Bostrom’s full paper on the Simulation Argument: http://www.simulation-argument.com

Ray Kurzweil’s Craziest Predictions About The Future

Ray Kurzweil’s predictions have an 86% success rate. But what he sees in the next 50 years are mind-blowing.
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Check out Ray’s books for more about his predictions for the future:
The Age of Intelligent Machines http://amzn.to/1UMU4YM
The Singularity is Near http://amzn.to/1UMUfn1
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Ray Kurzweil is an inventor and futurist who has championed the Law of Accelerating Returns, claiming that computer technology is following an exponential path that will lead to the Singularity – a point in time when computer power reaches super intelligence and all things are possible.
He predicts the Singularity by the year 2045. But that’s just one of his predictions for the future which also involves:
Autonomous cars
Simulated worlds
Uploading consciousness Immortality
Links: Jean-Marc Cote 1900 French World Exposition
Kurzweil’s track record
Kurzweil’s predictions
Kurzweil’s prediction timeline
George Hotz’s self-driving car hack
ColdFusionTV video on AlphaGo

5 Reasons Why You Wouldn’t Exist Without The Moon

We really take the moon for granted. But without it, we may not even exist. Here’s 5 reasons why.

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