# The Naked Scientists Forum

### Author Topic: The Speed of Light is Infinite  (Read 26976 times)

#### MikeS

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #25 on: 05/05/2011 14:55:33 »
Well, this was why I find Einstein being right in treating light as a constant. When it comes to your definitions of lights 'infinite speed' I can't agree. To me, and Einstein, light has only one speed, it does not adapt to 'time/gravity'.

The only way that I might have mentioned light 'infinite speed' is if you have totally taken it out of context. I have laboured the point that the speed of light is invariant.

To me, and Einstein, light has only one speed, it does not adapt to 'time/gravity'.
That's exactly what I have always maintained.  The speed of light in a vacuum is a constant

To me, and Einstein, light has only one speed, it does not adapt to 'time/gravity'.

You are wrong on this one, firstly I have never said light adapts to time/gravity.
What I have said on numerous occasions is the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant because the rate of flow of time is a variable.  I have also said that the rate of flow of time is varied (dilated) by gravity.]

This is part of General Relativity.  You are accusing me here of misinterpreting relativity, whereas, it is you that is denying what Relativity actually states.

"For example, the theory of relativity overturned the concept of motion from Newton's day, into all motion is relative. Time was no longer uniform and absolute. [/b]urthermore, no longer could physics be understood as space by itself, and time by itself. Instead, an added dimension had to be taken into account with curved spacetime. Time now depended on velocity, and contraction became a fundamental consequence at appropriate speeds."[4][5][6][7]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_relativity[/i]

In general relativity, clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

rate of flow of time is varied (dilated) by gravity.]

clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower.
These are both obviously saying the same thing.  Relativity and I agree.

rate of flow of time is a variable
Time was no longer uniform and absolute
These are both obviously saying the same thing.  Relativity and I agree.
To me, and Einstein, light has only one speed[/b], it does not adapt to 'time/gravity'
Although you have said it backwards here, you have on numerous occasions maintained that the rate of flow of time is constant.
Relativity and you disagree.

#### yor_on

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #26 on: 05/05/2011 16:04:23 »
You know Mike, I love the way you color the answers. It looks nice, never thought of doing it that way. And no Mike, relativity and I agree :)

There is only one rate of time as measured from your own frame of reference. I promise you that it never will change. the same goes for me, and everyone else. It's not called a 'constant' but I ever so secretly think it could be one, slightly weird, constant, but still a constant. Then we come to light that also is a constant, meaning that we expect it to have 'one speed' in a vacuum.

So if time is sort of 'constant' of the same durations always as measured by you in your frame, no matter where you go or what you do, and light is a constant too? where the he* does a time dilation come from?

:)

Now that's what I call a good question.

#### JP

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #27 on: 05/05/2011 16:14:49 »
I'm a bit confused too.  I think it has to do with language, which you mentioned earlier.

So let me see if we agree on a few key points, because I think we all do.

1) The speed of light is a measurable value for any observer in the universe.  All observers measure the same value of ~3x108 m/s.  If an observer near a black hole and an observer in deep space, far from gravity both measure the speed of light, then later they come back together and compare notes, they'll see they both recorded ~3x108 m/s.  If an observer moving in a speedy rocket ship does the same thing and compares notes with an observer on the earth, they'll also see they both recorded ~3x108 m/s.

I assume this is what we all agree on when we say the speed of light is constant?

2) If one observer is moving really fast and turns on a flashlight and the other is standing still with respect to him, and they're both watching the same beam of light, they'll both still record ~3x108 m/s for the speed of light. The way to explain this result is that the measuring sticks and clocks don't agree between the two observers.  This is harder to see with general relativity, but the same basic idea holds: light can only be constant for all observers if distance and time measurements don't always agree.

I assume when you say that "rate of flow of time" is variable, what you mean is that one clock can ticks faster than another if it's in a different reference frame.  Is this accurate?

3) Do we all also agree that light speed is constant, and completely uninfluenced by gravity, but that clocks and measuring sticks are influence by gravity?

#### yor_on

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #28 on: 05/05/2011 16:27:10 »
Yep.

A constant constant it is Sir, and as a interaction presenting you with the same exact rate, or duration. And, wha'do'ya notice!! :) Your own time seems to tick in harmony with this weird 'constant', presenting you the exact same rate/durations relative that 'speed'. Now isn't that a coincidence?

I'm sorry, should have gone to sleep some day ago, but my biological 'clock' is shot to pieces, I'll just have to wait it out. And when I get tired everything turns a slight shade of fun. Hope you can bear with me Mike, and JP :) No harm intended.

#### MikeS

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #29 on: 05/05/2011 17:57:20 »
yor_on

There is only one rate of time as measured from your own frame of reference.(1)   I promise you that it never will change. the same goes for me, and everyone else. It's not called a 'constant' but I ever so secretly think it could be one, slightly weird, constant, but still a constant. Then we come to light that also is a constant, meaning that we expect it to have 'one speed' in a vacuum.

So if time is sort of 'constant' of the same durations always as measured by you in your frame, no matter where you go or what you do, and light is a constant too? where the he* does a time dilation come from? (2)

1)   From your own frame yes.  From others no.  The universe has its own general rate of flow of time but in any locality it can be different depending upon the amount of mass in that locality.  That’s part of relativity.
2)   Massive objects dilate time.  That’s part of relativity as derived from the Lorenz transformation.
As the rate of flow of time changes to keep the speed of light constant, we are unaware of any changes because we are not independent but part of that variable.

JP

I'm a bit confused too.  I think it has to do with language, which you mentioned earlier.  It can be

So let me see if we agree on a few key points, because I think we all do.

1) The speed of light is a measurable value for any observer in the universe.  All observers measure the same value of ~3x108 m/s.  If an observer near a black hole and an observer in deep space, far from gravity both measure the speed of light, then later they come back together and compare notes, they'll see they both recorded ~3x108 m/s.  If an observer moving in a speedy rocket ship does the same thing and compares notes with an observer on the earth, they'll also see they both recorded ~3x108 m/s.

I assume this is what we all agree on when we say the speed of light is constant?

2) If one observer is moving really fast and turns on a flashlight and the other is standing still with respect to him, and they're both watching the same beam of light, they'll both still record ~3x108 m/s for the speed of light. The way to explain this result is that the measuring sticks and clocks don't agree between the two observers.  This is harder to see with general relativity, but the same basic idea holds: light can only be constant for all observers if distance and time measurements don't always agree.

I assume when you say that "rate of flow of time" is variable, what you mean is that one clock can ticks faster than another if it's in a different reference frame.  Is this accurate?

3) Do we all also agree that light speed is constant, and completely uninfluenced by gravity, but that clocks and measuring sticks are influence by gravity?

1)   Yes.
2)   Yes.

3)   Do we all also agree that light speed is constant,? Yes
and completely uninfluenced by gravity,  No
but that clocks and measuring sticks are influence by gravity?  Yes

and completely uninfluenced by gravity, No.

I believe that the rate of flow of time is derived from two factors of the universe, one of which is gravity.  The variable rate of flow of time is what allows the speed of light to be a constant.  So, as gravity tries to influence the speed of light, the rate of flow of time changes and cancels the effect.  The speed of light remains invariant and the visible face of ‘time’ appears constant.

yor_on

I find this fascinating, albeit frustrating at times.  I’m English living in Bulgaria and operate, if you like in isolation from anyone I can talk with on this subject.  The debates on these forums help me to focus my mind.  Thanks to you all I am even more convinced in the validity of my own ideas.  Thanks and keep up the good work.

#### yor_on

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #30 on: 05/05/2011 19:07:09 »
There is nothing wrong with having ideas, but as you say, they fare best when whetted. And that's what you're doing. That we see it differently doesn't guarantee that any of us is right. We might both miss something important that would put a whole new light to the subject. The discussions here I think of as a tool, just as you say, to help us all hone our minds and get new ideas. And have some fun :)

#### JP

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #31 on: 05/05/2011 19:47:03 »
3)   Do we all also agree that light speed is constant,? Yes
and completely uninfluenced by gravity,  No
but that clocks and measuring sticks are influence by gravity?  Yes

Ok, that might be the sticking point.  Usually "influenced" in physics means that something is changed by something else.  So if you say the speed of light is influenced by gravity, the usual interpretation is that it's being changed by gravity.

So getting back to what you actually mean by this: as I understand you, you're pointing out that gravity influences measurements of time intervals and that time intervals are used when measuring the speed of light.  Therefore, even though light speed is constant, gravity has influenced a part of the measurement process of the speed of light?  Would this be accurate?

#### MikeS

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« Reply #32 on: 05/05/2011 20:09:01 »
JP

From my last post
3)   Do we all also agree that light speed is constant,? Yes
and completely uninfluenced by gravity,  No
but that clocks and measuring sticks are influence by gravity?  Yes

and completely uninfluenced by gravity, No.

I believe that the rate of flow of time is derived from two factors of the universe, one of which is gravity.  The variable rate of flow of time is what allows the speed of light to be a constant.  So, as gravity tries to influence the speed of light, the rate of flow of time changes and cancels the effect.  The speed of light remains invariant and the visible face of ‘time’ appears constant.

Do we all also agree that light speed is constant,? Yes
and completely uninfluenced by gravity?  No

I'm not sure if this is clear.  The speed of light is uninfluenced by gravity because the rate of flow of time is derived partly from gravity.  So the answer should have been yes.  Is there a connection between the speed of light and gravity? Yes.

#### MikeS

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« Reply #33 on: 05/05/2011 20:13:43 »
JP

You posted while I was writing the last reply.  Hopefully it made it clear what I meant.  Anyway in answer to your last post.  Yes.

#### JP

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« Reply #34 on: 05/05/2011 20:30:49 »
Ok, I understand what you're getting at now.  I agree that's one way of looking at things, but it's not the same as Einstein did in deriving relativity.  He assumed that the speed of light being constant was the fundamental concept in his theory and derived time dilation and length contraction as results.  You seem to be assuming that time dilation and length contraction are fundamental concepts and deriving the constancy of the speed of light from them.  I'm not an expert, but I don't see any huge problems off hand--both ways seem valid--although to me it feels a bit less elegant than doing it Einstein's way.

By the way, I don't mean to be condescending here, but is there a reason that you're not using more commonly accepted technical terms?  I think a lot of this confusion could be avoided if you spoke in terms of time dilation and measured time intervals rather than using the confusing term "rate of flow of time."  If you try to interpret "rate of flow of time" in terms of technical definitions for rate and flow, it is rather meaningless.

The same goes for the word "influence," which means that something changes something else.  If the speed of light is constant, it technically can't be influenced by gravity.  It would be more technically correct to say that gravity does not influence the speed of light because gravity does influence time in precisely the right way.

I think a lot of people with science training take for granted that everyone else will speak their language.  This isn't always the case, and then things get easily confused.
« Last Edit: 05/05/2011 20:37:43 by JP »

#### yor_on

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #35 on: 06/05/2011 04:58:53 »
We know that photons 'bend' to gravity, so you can say that light is 'influenced' by gravity Mike. And yes, you can turn it around if you like and state that we have some 'forces' (not really forces per se, but I'm using the word for lack of a better here) that are in a 'equilibrium' at all times, adapting to each other. In a way that was Einsteins thought too, as I understands it.

But in his world it was light that was the weight in the scale, the other adapting themselves around its invariant speed. In yours it will be gravity? That is the defining factor, and that light needs to be at 'c', if I understand you right?

#### MikeS

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #36 on: 06/05/2011 07:22:24 »
JP

Ok, I understand what you're getting at now.  I agree that's one way of looking at things, but it's not the same as Einstein did in deriving relativity.  He assumed that the speed of light being constant was the fundamental concept in his theory and derived time dilation and length contraction as results.  You seem to be assuming that time dilation and length contraction are fundamental concepts and deriving the constancy of the speed of light from them.  I'm not an expert, but I don't see any huge problems off hand--both ways seem valid--although to me it feels a bit less elegant than doing it Einstein's way.

By the way, I don't mean to be condescending here, but is there a reason that you're not using more commonly accepted technical terms?  I think a lot of this confusion could be avoided if you spoke in terms of time dilation and measured time intervals rather than using the confusing term "rate of flow of time."  If you try to interpret "rate of flow of time" in terms of technical definitions for rate and flow, it is rather meaningless.

The same goes for the word "influence," which means that something changes something else.  If the speed of light is constant, it technically can't be influenced by gravity.  It would be more technically correct to say that gravity does not influence the speed of light because gravity does influence time in precisely the right way.

I think a lot of people with science training take for granted that everyone else will speak their language.  This isn't always the case, and then things get easily confused

Elsewhere in these posts I have gone so far as to say I believe the photon to be the universes clock.  In other words, the photon is not traveling in parallel with time, it is the universes time keeper.  The heartbeat of the universe.  That’s not strictly correct, it would be better to say it’s the universes constant speed keeper.  Elsewhere in these posts I have postulated the reason why that is so.  It is possible to start on the assumption that the speed of light, time and distance are all relative but  it soon becomes obvious the only way this can be made to work is if the speed of light is a constant.  I think this was my original approach.  I have also tried to approach the matter on the simplest of terms. Everything in the universe is made from energy and matter therefore, time must in some way be a natural bi-product of that.  The same goes for distance or length.

I am sixty six years old and I come from an electrical engineering (troubleshooting) background so am unfamiliar with many of the terms used, my apologies.  My maths education went as far as calculus which I have long since forgotten.  My mind is very analytical.  Einstein used the term time dilation which is fine as far as it goes but it does not encompass time contraction.  The other term he used was ‘passage’.  He obviously had the same problem, I thought my use of the term ‘rate of flow of time’ more meaningful and self evident.  I wanted a simple self-obvious term that explained exactly what I meant.  The ‘rate of flow of time’ to me seems obvious.  If I said the ‘rate of flow of water’, everyone would know what I meant.  Time flows past at a certain rate.  Or a clock can be adjusted fast or slow.  The other problem here, as already discussed, is the confusion caused by language being insufficient.  I have noticed when talking about time there is much confusion in language even amongst the scientific community and a lack of meaningful terms.  I could have used the term ‘going rate’ from horology but I thought the majority of people would not understand that term and it’s not strictly correct.  Talking about a clock changing its going rate is not the same as the rate of flow of time changing. I have tried to explain in other post what I mean by 'rate of flow of time'.

I tried to make exactly this point two posts ago so there would be no confusion.  (you phrased it better)

#### MikeS

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #37 on: 06/05/2011 07:53:16 »
JP

Rate 2[COUNTABLE] the speed at which something happens within a particular period of time
http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/rate

Speed = distance over time.

'rate of flow of time'

The speed of flow of time is variable.
This is true but it's also gobbledygook.  How do you describe the speed of time in an arbitrary manner without using units of something?  It's a language thing.
It is easy to describe by analogy but that still leaves the problem of how to describe it in words.

#### Geezer

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #38 on: 06/05/2011 08:13:24 »

The ‘rate of flow of time’ to me seems obvious.  If I said the ‘rate of flow of water’, everyone would know what I meant.  Time flows past at a certain rate.

Ah, but that's a problem Mike. You can refer to a rate of flow of water, but you can't refer to a rate of flow of time because a "rate" is a measurement of something in a certain amount of time, so you'd be using time to measure time, which obviously won't work.

#### MikeS

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##### The Speed of Light is Infinite
« Reply #39 on: 06/05/2011 08:21:45 »

The ‘rate of flow of time’ to me seems obvious.  If I said the ‘rate of flow of water’, everyone would know what I meant.  Time flows past at a certain rate.

Ah, but that's a problem Mike. You can refer to a rate of flow of water, but you can't refer to a rate of flow of time because a "rate" is a measurement of something in a certain amount of time, so you'd be using time to measure time, which obviously won't work.

Yes, that's just the point I was trying to explain in my last post.  It's a language thing.

#### MikeS

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« Reply #40 on: 06/05/2011 08:23:50 »
We know that photons 'bend' to gravity, so you can say that light is 'influenced' by gravity Mike. And yes, you can turn it around if you like and state that we have some 'forces' (not really forces per se, but I'm using the word for lack of a better here) that are in a 'equilibrium' at all times, adapting to each other. In a way that was Einsteins thought too, as I understands it.

But in his world it was light that was the weight in the scale, the other adapting themselves around its invariant speed. In yours it will be gravity? That is the defining factor, and that light needs to be at 'c', if I understand you right?

Speed is distance / time.  It would be more technically correct to say that gravity does not influence the speed of light because gravity does influence time in precisely the right way. (Thanks JP for your concise re-phrasing )
Hopefully just to throw a bit more light on the subject. Gravity is more fundamental than time, time becomes meaningless without gravity.  Theoretically if you have an infinite rate of flow of time then the speed of light would be infinite.  However, without gravity there is no arrow of time, so time becomes meaningless, hence the speed of light, in that scenario is meaningless.  Please dont say I said the speed of light was infinite, I didn't.

#### Geezer

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« Reply #41 on: 06/05/2011 08:34:55 »
Mike: You posted over me, but here goes anyway.

-----------------

I think it's more a conceptual thing.

We are conditioned to think that there is some sort of master clock that controls everything. There isn't. Time is purely local, but that local time controls absolutely every process from the activity in atoms to the rotation of planets, and also the movement of light.

All we can say is that clocks may not agree because time is not univesal, and there is plenty of hard evidence to confirm this.

#### MikeS

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« Reply #42 on: 06/05/2011 09:39:39 »
Mike: You posted over me, but here goes anyway.

-----------------

I think it's more a conceptual thing.

We are conditioned to think that there is some sort of master clock that controls everything. There isn't. Time is purely local, but that local time controls absolutely every process from the activity in atoms to the rotation of planets, and also the movement of light.

All we can say is that clocks may not agree because time is not univesal, and there is plenty of hard evidence to confirm this.

But if time is only local and the universe contains n number of localities and we add them all up and take an average then the universe has an average rate of flow of time, as well as it varying locally.  If time can vary locally their has to be a mechanism by which that happens.  The universe does contain a master clock but it runs at 'different rates' depending upon prevailing conditions in any locality.

#### Geezer

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« Reply #43 on: 06/05/2011 17:47:49 »
Mike,

I give up. You keep saying "rate of flow of time" which is completely meaningless. You are a EE, so I'm sure you know how importatnt units are.

Mathematically, rate of flow of time would be dt/dt!
« Last Edit: 06/05/2011 19:04:59 by Geezer »

#### MikeS

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« Reply #44 on: 06/05/2011 21:32:35 »
Yes I have already explained that.  You refer to it as (time is not universal,) so you know exactly what I am trying to say.  If you can think of or know of a better term to explain the phenomenal I would love to know what it is.

#### JP

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« Reply #45 on: 06/05/2011 21:42:48 »
Time dilation?

#### JP

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« Reply #46 on: 06/05/2011 21:43:32 »
By the way, different observers measure time differently (time dilation) but they also measure lengths differently (length contraction).  Is there a reason you think time dilation is more important than length contraction?

#### Geezer

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« Reply #47 on: 06/05/2011 22:08:46 »
Yes I have already explained that.  You refer to it as (time is not universal,) so you know exactly what I am trying to say.  If you can think of or know of a better term to explain the phenomenal I would love to know what it is.

I'll give it one more shot

Here is an analogy. Like any analogy, you will be able to blow many holes in it, but it might help.

We talk about atmospheric pressure. We know it varies on Earth for many reasons, but I don't think we can define a Universal standard for pressure.

Time is not so different. It's different all over the joint.

However, while it's easy to measure differences in pressure locally, it's impossible to measure differences in time locally because the local time affects all time measuring devices, including human metabolism, and anything else you can think of.

#### MikeS

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« Reply #48 on: 06/05/2011 22:51:19 »
Time dilation?
Only works for time dilation not for contraction.

By the way, different observers measure time differently (time dilation) but they also measure lengths differently (length contraction).  Is there a reason you think time dilation is more important than length contraction?
No

Yes I have already explained that.  You refer to it as (time is not universal,) so you know exactly what I am trying to say.  If you can think of or know of a better term to explain the phenomenal I would love to know what it is.

I'll give it one more shot

Here is an analogy. Like any analogy, you will be able to blow many holes in it, but it might help.

We talk about atmospheric pressure. We know it varies on Earth for many reasons, but I don't think we can define a Universal standard for pressure.

Time is not so different. It's different all over the joint.

However, while it's easy to measure differences in pressure locally, it's impossible to measure differences in time locally because the local time affects all time measuring devices, including human metabolism, and anything else you can think of.

No it didn't help.  No we cant measure it. There is little point in giving it units.

But what do we call it?

How about 'time variable' or tv, Tv?

Any suggestions?

As I said before Einstein refered to it as 'time dilation' but really he was only talking about dilation not contraction, he also used the term 'passage of time' but neither seem very satisfactory.  For the sake of simplicity it would be good if it had a name that was self explanatory.  Time dilation is self explanatory and many people use it without having a clue what it actually means.  While we are on the subject how about length?  What do we call variable length.  Length dilation/contraction, there has to be something better.

#### Geezer

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« Reply #49 on: 06/05/2011 23:06:07 »
Time dilation?
Only works for time dilation not for contraction.

Ah! Again you come back to the notion that there is some sort of "absolute time".

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« Reply #49 on: 06/05/2011 23:06:07 »