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Speed of Light-draftRatings: (0)|Views: 35|Likes: 0

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https://www.scribd.com/doc/35641534/Speed-of-Light-draft

10/25/2012

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Why an object cannot arrive nor exceed thespeed of light:

Einstein’s Theory of

General Relativity

The Speed Limit of the Universe

Benzion Blech7/23/2010

Why objects cannot arrive near nor exceed the speed of light: An Introduction to

Einstein’

s Theory of General Relativity

Benzion Blech

The speed of light has been called “nature’s speed limit”

by physicists, while most

people have absolutely no idea why. Although Einstein’s theory expounds upon this

problem, the vast majority of the population would have a hard time understanding themathematical jargon in the theory, thereby ruining the opportunity for one tounderstand some of the most interesting concepts that has ever been discovered- thetheory of general relativity. In this paper, I will use two main equations to explain thenature of the speed of light, and why it is impossible to not only to arrive to this speed-it is practically impossible for an object to even approach it. The idea of this paper is notto explain the entire theory of relativity; rather, as the title states, this is merely anintroduction to it. The paper will only expound upon one aspect of the theory; why thespeed of light cannot be approached by an object other than a photon.

“What is the speed of light?”

The speed of light is approximately 3x10

8

m/s in a vacuum

1

. However, in any other typeof medium (such as air or glass) light does slow down, at least to some degree. Forexample, a prism works on this concept; as a light beam enters the glass, some of thehigher frequency radiation slows down compared to the lower frequency radiation.Therefore, the color violet is diffracted at a much greater degree (which is the highestfrequency for visible electromagnetic radiation) compared to the color red (which is thelowest). However, as the theory goes, nothing can exceed the speed of light in avacuum

.

2

1

This was proved both with the experiments of Newton, as well as the famous Michelson-Morleyexperiment using the Michelson interferometer.

2

Just to note, there has been recent evidence of the speed of light being broken by extremely excitedgamma rays

originating from distant supernovae. Instruments set up in Earth‟s orbit recorded small gammaray peaks milliseconds before large peaks for the main „event‟ of the collapsing star‟

s influx of gammaradiation arrived. This may provide proof of some gamma rays, when excited enough, can actually break the light-

speed barrier. However, this discrepancy between excited and „relaxed‟ electromagnetic radiation

can only be made over distances of thousands of light years at the very least.Although this finding and others like it (such as constructive phase interference in excited x-ray radiation)may prove that the speed of light can be broken in certain instances, most physicists agree today with

Einstein‟s constant for the speed of light. Therefore, this paper wi

ll expound on this theory and theequations that Einstein developed to prove the speed limit of the universe

The first equation to understand

is the fundamental equation of Einstein’s theory of

general relativity:

√

where

m

is the observed mass,

m

o

is the rest mass,

v

is the velocity of the object, and

c

is the speed of light (which is a constant). As one can deduce from the above equation,as the speed of an object

v

approaches the speed of light

c

, the observed mass

m

approaches infinity. However, an object cannot arrive at the speed of light because theobserved mass would be undefined (

m

o

/0=

undefined

value). Similarly, and objectcannot exceed the speed of light because the radical would become an imaginarynumber (the square root of any negative number is considered imaginary, meaning itdoes not actually exist).If one would graph out the equation above using a graphing utility, the verticalasymptote would be visible at 3x10

8

on the x-axis (in this case, the velocity

v

is along thex-axis and the observed mass

m

is along the y-axis) which is the speed of light

c

inmeters per second. Clearly, it is impossible to either arrive at the speed of light orexceed it. The plot of equation (1) is shown below:As the plot above shows, the observed mass plotted on the y-axis approaches infinity asthe x value (velocity) approaches 3x10

8

m/s.The way to define this equation in terms of limits (and switching velocity

v

for

x

) wouldbe:

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