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Author Topic: How does gravity affect light...?  (Read 16942 times)

Offline Karen W.

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How does gravity affect light...?
« on: 17/08/2008 20:04:44 »
If gravity affects light, does that mean that light has mass?

I am confused if so!

What is the mass of light if this is correct?

Does this also effect time..?

How does it all pertain to Einstein or Hubble and their theories? Or does it?
« Last Edit: 23/08/2008 18:55:46 by chris »


 

Offline RD

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #1 on: 17/08/2008 20:42:55 »
Massive objects (planets, stars, galaxies) distort the fabric of space, (a.k.a. spacetime),
like a heavy ball on a taut rubber sheet...


source

So a ray of light travelling close to the massive object would have its path bent by the distortion in spacetime.
This effect has been observed in distortions of the apparent positions of astronomical bodies, e.g. gravitational lensing.
« Last Edit: 17/08/2008 20:53:49 by RD »
 

lyner

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #2 on: 17/08/2008 22:06:26 »
Light takes the shortest path from a to b.
If space has been bent, then the light will follow a bent path. It doesn't know 'directly' about the gravity but its path follows the 'grid' of space, which it 'thinks' is square.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #3 on: 18/08/2008 04:24:20 »
Is it the gravity between say two planets that cause the ripple in the fabric of the atmosphere...? And does that mean that what is being compressed between them actually has mass and thus pushes out at the fabric .. So air has mass but in space if the light is at point A and there is a  a large wave or ripple in front of the light.. that means that instead of shining straight ahead and being stopped by the first ripple that the light will travel up and over down and up the wave of the ripple to the other side and continue on? Is that right? I am not sure I understand.. It cant go through the ripple so it goes over it.. less resistance right... So what is in the ripple that blocks the path that the lights goes over it....?
 

Offline RD

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #4 on: 18/08/2008 10:02:38 »
Is it the gravity between say two planets that cause the ripple in the fabric of the atmosphere...?

The distortions in spacetime caused by massive objects can take the form of ripples, (a.k.a. gravitational waves),
 e.g. those produced by two stars closely orbiting each other.

No air or other matter is required for the propagation of these gravitational waves, (or light).
« Last Edit: 18/08/2008 11:08:29 by RD »
 

lyner

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #5 on: 18/08/2008 11:24:35 »
Karen
Quote
Is it the gravity between say two planets that cause the ripple in the fabric of the atmosphere...?
There seems to be some confusion here.
There won't be any significant 'ripples' in the gravitational field between planets - no great or rapid changes, that is. The only atmosphere would be near the (our, did you mean?) planets' surfaces and light travels happily in empty space between. Gravitational effects on the atmosphere and its effect on light would be really minimal.

Two massive objects (Stars) in a very close orbit would produce gravitational waves of a measurable frequency and size. Light passing close to this binary pair might be deflected a bit and made to ripple. The closer its path to the pair, the greater the effect, as you'd expect.
BUT, detecting gravity waves is hard enough if you try to detect its effect on massive objects. The effect on light must be very small - or that would be used as a way of detecting the GW, I think.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #6 on: 18/08/2008 18:02:38 »
Is it the gravity between say two planets that cause the ripple in the fabric of the atmosphere...?

The distortions in spacetime caused by massive objects can take the form of ripples, (a.k.a. gravitational waves),
 e.g. those produced by two stars closely orbiting each other.

No air or other matter is required for the propagation of these gravitational waves, (or light).
Thanks RD..Are you saying the gravitational waves ..ARE light?
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #7 on: 18/08/2008 18:11:29 »
Karen
Quote
Is it the gravity between say two planets that cause the ripple in the fabric of the atmosphere...?
There seems to be some confusion here.
There won't be any significant 'ripples' in the gravitational field between planets - no great or rapid changes, that is. The only atmosphere would be near the (our, did you mean?) planets' surfaces and light travels happily in empty space between. Gravitational effects on the atmosphere and its effect on light would be really minimal.

Two massive objects (Stars) in a very close orbit would produce gravitational waves of a measurable frequency and size. Light passing close to this binary pair might be deflected a bit and made to ripple. The closer its path to the pair, the greater the effect, as you'd expect.
BUT, detecting gravity waves is hard enough if you try to detect its effect on massive objects. The effect on light must be very small - or that would be used as a way of detecting the GW, I think.

I thought it could happen between any two planets or ours really. Any two large objects with mass?

What would cause the ripple to be closer to our planets surface.. well I mean why would the ripple not be dead center between the planets or stars.. why closer to the  surface then between them.. I keep thinking like a sandwhich.. you press them together and whatever is between squishes out in the middle.. but is It different with the atmosphere and the ripple happens closer to suface..??
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #8 on: 18/08/2008 18:13:35 »
I know this is difficult to explain to me as my head suffers from lack of intelligence but I do want to understand And I appreciate your explanation...Thank you for your patience!
« Last Edit: 18/08/2008 19:34:00 by Karen W. »
 

Offline RD

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #9 on: 18/08/2008 18:33:48 »
Is it the gravity between say two planets that cause the ripple in the fabric of the atmosphere...?

The distortions in spacetime caused by massive objects can take the form of ripples, (a.k.a. gravitational waves),
 e.g. those produced by two stars closely orbiting each other.

No air or other matter is required for the propagation of these gravitational waves, (or light).
Thanks RD..Are you saying the gravitational waves ..ARE light?

Light waves are not gravitational waves, I was pointing out that both these types of waves can travel through a vacuum:
they do not require matter, (you mentioned air), to travel through. e.g. the light we see on Earth from the sun and other stars has travelled through the vacuum of space.

A better diagram and photo of gravitational lensing can be seen at the bottom of this webpage.
« Last Edit: 18/08/2008 18:57:39 by RD »
 

lyner

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #10 on: 18/08/2008 18:58:53 »
Two things; a gravitational field will cause the path of light ot be bent; if the field is varying, the path of the light will 'wave about a bit'.
As a wave of changing G field (your ripple) goes past a beam of light it could give it a little nudge.
All these effects are extremely small where planets are concerned 'cos they're so low in mass.
The gravitational ripples you are referring to - like in between two planets - don't exist. The field is very small and not changing so no ripple. The ripples that are referred to occur because the resulting field at a distance from two big orbiting masses is slightly different when they are seen ' side by side' and when one is on the far side of the other. The bigger they are and the closer they are, the bigger the effect and the higher the frequency of the waves - because they orbit faster.
But, like I said, I don't think this has been observed to effect the light passing by binary systems.
Scientists look for gravitational waves by measuring how the relative positions of large masses are affected as the waves go past. That requires extreme sensitivity and very smart measurement techniques.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #11 on: 18/08/2008 19:29:40 »
Is it the gravity between say two planets that cause the ripple in the fabric of the atmosphere...?

The distortions in spacetime caused by massive objects can take the form of ripples, (a.k.a. gravitational waves),
 e.g. those produced by two stars closely orbiting each other.

No air or other matter is required for the propagation of these gravitational waves, (or light).
Thanks RD..Are you saying the gravitational waves ..ARE light?

Light waves are not gravitational waves, I was pointing out that both these types of waves can travel through a vacuum:
they do not require matter, (you mentioned air), to travel through. e.g. the light we see on Earth from the sun and other stars has travelled through the vacuum of space.

A better diagram and photo of gravitational lensing can be seen at the bottom of this webpage.

Thanks for clarifying.. I think I understand better now.. that diagram helps!
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #12 on: 18/08/2008 19:33:04 »
Two things; a gravitational field will cause the path of light ot be bent; if the field is varying, the path of the light will 'wave about a bit'.
As a wave of changing G field (your ripple) goes past a beam of light it could give it a little nudge.
All these effects are extremely small where planets are concerned 'cos they're so low in mass.
The gravitational ripples you are referring to - like in between two planets - don't exist. The field is very small and not changing so no ripple. The ripples that are referred to occur because the resulting field at a distance from two big orbiting masses is slightly different when they are seen ' side by side' and when one is on the far side of the other. The bigger they are and the closer they are, the bigger the effect and the higher the frequency of the waves - because they orbit faster.
But, like I said, I don't think this has been observed to effect the light passing by binary systems.
Scientists look for gravitational waves by measuring how the relative positions of large masses are affected as the waves go past. That requires extreme sensitivity and very smart measurement techniques.

OK that is much more clear to me this time.. I was getting things mixed up eh? LOL...Thanks for explaining again...
 

lyner

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #13 on: 18/08/2008 21:31:08 »
no prob!
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #14 on: 19/08/2008 00:11:58 »
So lets say I wanted to simulate a ripple or wave in the fabric of the atmosphere,,could I use a large tub of water and two large items as mass to simulate the objects in space.. in order to produce a similar effect in water that would be visible to the eye .. for say 5 year olds?
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #15 on: 19/08/2008 00:15:25 »
Perhaps I could submerge the objects and using a magnet to move them closer together without touching my hand to the water... would that be effective or work at all.. I do know I am talking water here and not the atmosphere but could that be theoretically done to demonstrate the ripple?
 

Offline RD

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #16 on: 19/08/2008 10:28:11 »
So lets say I wanted to simulate a ripple or wave in the fabric of the atmosphere,,could I use a large tub of water and two large items as mass to simulate the objects in space.. in order to produce a similar effect in water that would be visible to the eye .. for say 5 year olds?

The usual spacetime demonstration uses a rubber sheet, or plastic curved surface*, usually with one large sphere in the centre causing a big dent, and a second smaller sphere spinning around the larger one, analogous to the Earth orbiting the Sun.

[* I've seen one of these curved surfaces to used to demonstrate the chaotic motion of a planet around two suns: it looked a bit like a bathroom sink with two plugholes]

Surface tension on water could also serve as a sort of rubber sheet to demonstrate spacetime curvature

 
« Last Edit: 19/08/2008 10:51:33 by RD »
 

lyner

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #17 on: 19/08/2008 10:31:35 »
The analogy with water is ok, with caveats. The steady state situation is different, of course, because you'd really need a 'rubber sheet' and rest the two masses on it. You could show the effect of ripples by moving the balls towards and away from each other or perhaps alternately up and down. If you put two ball on sticks (like drum beaters), you could move them about without touching the water. If the balls were fairly large, you could show the overall level of water go up when you first immerse them. This would correspond to the average gravitational effect whilst the ripples would show the variation.
A bit dodgy, I'm afraid , and full of holes but it may appeal to some of them and stimulate questions. It's certainly no worse than some of the animated graphics we get to see on TV to show Science concepts.

btw it's not 'atmosphere'; it's a model of space we're dealing with!
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #18 on: 19/08/2008 14:10:49 »
Yes You're right..I always combine them instead of remembering that the atmosphere is a kind of wall or barrier ,, between us and space...

Hey Sophie.. What actually stops the elements and such inside the earths atmosphere from mixing into space? Is it simply the gravity that stops it and keeps space void of any of the elements? I know it must be maintained to for life to exist here.. but exactly what is the physical thing that maintains that separation between the two..Is gravity creating a pressure which keeps the two apart...?
 

Offline RD

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #19 on: 19/08/2008 14:44:25 »
Yes gravity stops Earth's atmosphere from escaping into space.
The moon's gravity is only 1/6th of Earths and is not sufficient to hold on to an atmosphere, (no air on moon).
 

lyner

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Re: How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #20 on: 19/08/2008 18:33:35 »
Remember - gravity attracts everything with mass to everything else. Every particle of gas 'out there' is attracted towards Earth. If a particle is going fast enough in the right direction it won't get pulled in. The ones at the outer edges of the atmosphere (it never really ends but, say 200km away) move about and collide with the ones underneath, creating what we know as  pressure. As you go down towards the surface, there are more particles per metre cube (the pressure is higher) so the pressure under them is even higher and so on 'till you get to the surface.
The mass of the solid bit is enough to hold it together and provide enough force to keep the pressure high enough so that water doesn't evaporate away and the atmosphere is kept in place..

Whether or not a planet keeps an atmosphere depends upon how hot it is and how big it is. If the speed of the molecules is high enough (i.e. the temperature is enough) they will escape from the surface of a planet (e.g the Moon) and be captured by some larger object, such as the Earth or the Sun.

This is the final situation after a process which started billions of years ago when the Sun and Solar system were just a huge mass of gas, occupying a vast region of space (a nebula). Everything was mutually attracted by gravity until it all came together to form the much smaller, dense stuff we live on.
 

Offline stevewillie

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How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #21 on: 03/09/2008 19:44:43 »
If GR explains gravity and its effect on light as well as objects with mass, what is the role of the graviton in physical theory? (I asked a version of this question in a new subject post, but I am also still confused). Can this only be resolved by some Theory of Everything (TOE)?
 

Offline stevewillie

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How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #22 on: 07/09/2008 01:44:05 »
Since no one answered my question (I'm very impatient) I will try to answer it myself although I'm not formally trained in physics. GR predicts gravitational waves and QM requires that every kind of wave is associated with a particle. So if we have gravitational waves we must have gravitons. However, can a graviton interact with a photon? Photons are always moving so they have no rest mass. However, since they are always moving they have energy and energy and mass are in principle interchangeable. Therefore the graviton can interact with photons because, to a graviton, a photon looks like mass. Around black holes, gravity is very strong, and beyond the black hole boundary called an 'event horizon', gravity is so strong that light that has passed this "line of death" cannot escape thus rendering the hole "black'.

However, so far, no one has found either gravitational waves or gravitons. So either GR or QM or both are possibly flawed. Of course we all know that. That's why we need some new theory. For many scientists, string theory is the answer. But no one has any idea how to test string theory(or should I say at least one of 10^500 string theories that physicist Lee Smolin says exist). Even Ed Witten seems at a loss. The LHC won't solve the problem. Besides, all string theories are background dependent and Smolin says we need a background independent theory. So that's why I'm confused. I don't expect any answers here, but it seems there should be some opinions on the direction of physics: like quantum gravity or just sticking to what we can conceivably test based on the Standard Model. It's messy,but it works and LHC can really help us there. s   
« Last Edit: 13/09/2008 21:00:30 by stevewillie »
 

Offline yor_on

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How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #23 on: 03/01/2009 15:44:10 »
. GR predicts gravitational waves and QM requires that every kind of wave is associated with a particle. So if we have gravitational waves we must have gravitons.

Steve, Why do we believe that it must be transmitted by some sort of 'particles'?

I look at it as a field in three dimensions observed in time.
The interactions we see by gravity will be 'ripples' in the field propagating at 'c'.
You could see it as the ocean, if you allow for waves/ripples to move in any direction they choose in this 3D-medium.
Perhaps one could think of it as a unlimited amount of 'surfaces' 360 degrees (3D).

Although some insist on photons containing invariant mass I still differ between matter and photons.
We use the expression 'invariant mass', as I see it, for that 'ultimate' definition of matter.
To my eyes this definition is not as clear as I would have wished.
Maybe I'm just not getting it:)

Photons contains something 'styled' as momentum which is a force expressed in the velocity (direction & speed) of the photon.
We know through experiments that momentum is there, there is no experiments proving any invariant mass though, that I know of.

You say "Photons are always moving so they have no rest mass"
Rest mass is a definition exclusively pertaining to a single particles invariant mass.
Anything larger than that is nowadays defined as 'proper mass' or 'invariant mass'.

You are definitely correct in that they do not have any rest mass, but I will presume that you meant it this way:)
The reason why a photon can move at 'c' in a vacuum is to me that it is a truly 'mass less' particle.
Am I correct in assuming that it was so you thought?

Then you said that "since they are always moving they have energy and energy and mass are in principle interchangeable. Therefore the graviton can interact with photons because, to a graviton, a photon looks like mass."

Here you touch several points of interest for me.
1. Does photons come in different energy quanta?
2. Or is its energy levels created by comparisons done between different 'frames of reference'.

If we look on a flashlight with variable 'strength' we can produce different types of waves from red to blue shifted. And that we observe being 'at rest' with this flashlight (proofs obtained relative being in the same 'reference frame' as our flashlight:)
So it seems that light quanta can come in different energies.
If we want to dispute that we seem to end in a 'place' with an unlimited number of reference-frames.

Or it could be seen as if we let every peak in a wave represent the particle aspect of a photon then one could say that blue shifted light is represented of a larger amount of photons inside a 'time slice' as compared to a lesser amount when 'red shifted'.

I'm not sure if there is any experiments proofing which is correct here.
There should be:)

But red/blue shift is also a direct result from our reference-frames interaction with any other.
And it's not possible to proof whose frame that is moving relative the other.
As long as we are talking about uniformly moving frames.

From within an accelerating frame you would be able to define a certain gravity well displaced from your object of acceleration.
Still, without a knowledge of your objects 'mass' you would be hard pressed to guess how much of that would be 'expressed' in the 'blue shift' of the light coming at you from the outside.

Seen this way we can't be sure on whether any light coming at us, from outside our own reference-frame, will be as we perceive it.
Although the light leaving our reference-frame will be at rest with us and therefore seen as it , more or less, internally 'is'.

But, in a accelerating 'reference frame' as a spaceship, the light even when seen from inside will be perceived as red--blue shifted.
One could see that as an unlimited amount of 'reference-frames' inside that one 'reference-frame' :) I think.

And the photon does not, to my eyes, contain any mass, only momentum, and so seen they are not 'interchangeable' entities (gravitons/photons).

Gravitons is still an unproven idea, even if we succeed to proof the Higgs particle.

"the Higgs is a postulated particle. It was born as a mathematical trick in order to solve some problems concerning symmetry in quantum field theory. The Higgs has mass because we defined it like that. The Higgs particle gives mass to elementary particles via it's interaction with these particles. This interaction can be expressed in terms of a coupling between the Higgs field and the elementary particle field.

The coefficient of the product of these fields is the mass of the elementary particle. This is just how the QFT formalism works. This is all very nice but the question remains as to whether this is true. This is why many scientists await the first experimental verification of this system of spontaneous breakdown and mass generation. Also, elementary particles need to be massless when in gauge theory because of symmetry reasons."

"The Standard Model falls short of being a complete theory of fundamental interactions because it does not include gravity and because it is incompatible with the recent observation of neutrino oscillations."

From that statement to assume that it therefore craves to be included
"In particle physics, the Higgs boson is a massive scalar elementary particle predicted to exist by the Standard Model."
Is a rather great jump to me.

So far I know it there was no Higgs boson 'predicted' by Einstein?
There is an absence of explanation for gravity as a 'force'.
But that's not the same to my eyes.

" Einstein tried to form a generalized theory of gravitation that would unify the gravitational and electromagnetic forces (and perhaps others), guided by a belief in a single origin for the entire set of physical laws. These attempts initially concentrated on additional geometric notions such as vierbeins and "distant parallelism", but eventually centered around treating both the metric tensor and the affine connection as fundamental fields. (Because they are not independent, the metric-affine theory was somewhat complicated.) In general relativity, these fields are symmetric (in the matrix sense), but since antisymmetry seemed essential for electromagnetism, the symmetry requirement was relaxed for one or both fields. Einstein's proposed unified-field equations (fundamental laws of physics) were generally derived from a variational principle expressed in terms of the Riemann curvature tensor for the presumed space-time manifold.

In field theories of this kind, particles appear as limited regions in space-time in which the field strength or the energy density are particularly high. Einstein and coworker Leopold Infeld managed to demonstrate that, in Einstein's ultimate theory of the unified field, true singularities of the field did have trajectories resembling point particles. However, singularities are places where the equations break down, and Einstein believed that in an ultimate theory the laws should apply everywhere, with particles being soliton-like solutions to the (highly nonlinear) field equations. Further, the large-scale topology of the universe should impose restrictions on the solutions, such as quantization or discrete symmetries."

He also predicted gravitational waves.
See here.
http://www.ligo-wa.caltech.edu/ligo_overview.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_wave

But the Higgs field is a rather cool idea if it is correct.
http://www.hep.yorku.ca/what_is_higgs.html

---------

Looking at Karens original question:)

My answer would be that we need to look from the right perspective here.
Otherwise it gets very complicated:)

The photon does not bend to mass, the photon just follows the energy-wise 'shortest/cheapest' path.
Space is a 360 degrees in -3D- roller coaster with an unlimited amount of peaks and dips (gravity-wise:)
Created by and adapting too mass (and acceleration), seen by us in time.

« Last Edit: 03/01/2009 17:23:57 by yor_on »
 

Offline genie_us

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How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #24 on: 16/11/2011 22:25:56 »
a cold topic but i couldn't resist sticking my nose in,

just wondering, wouldn't it be way simpler to explain this if we just look at this issue in a different perspective, which is "speed of light is constant",
so, even if space bends, due to ripple or distortion,  light still has to cover the same distance, to reach from point A to B, regardless of it being plain or distorted or up or down the ripple.

Say, if you have a stretched sheet of cloth and you are using a windup toy car to travel on it, so regardless if its smooth or you produce ripples in it, car still have to travel the same distance from one end to other. Same with light, it will follow the shape of space.

Now, if light goes through ripples in straight line, than to follow them, this would simply mean light would reach from one point in space to other in time shorter than expected, thus violating the fundamental concept of constant speed of light.

Simply put, the behavior of light while moving through ripples is not effected by gravity or ripples themselves, its merely following its speed limit.
 

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How does gravity affect light...?
« Reply #24 on: 16/11/2011 22:25:56 »

 

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