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Why nothing can go faster than light. I accept that this is so, but why? What is so special about light that it defines ultimate speed?

Is it just a coincidence that light is the same speed as the fastest that can be, or is it based purely on the limitations of human observation?

Date: 2011-09-24 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cslinguist.livejournal.com
I don't know if you actually want a serious answer to this but I'll try to give you one anyway with my limited knowledge of relativity.

Light travels at a speed represented by the constant c. This speed c is actually the speed at which all massless particles move, not just light. Also, when someone says that nothing can go faster than the speed of light, what they mean is that the speed of light in a vacuum is the maximum speed any particle in the universe can possibly go. There are certain situations where it is possible to go faster than light itself. For instance, when light is traveling through a dense medium like water or glass, light slows down to c/n.

However, in a vacuum, no mass can travel faster than the speed of light. Imagine yourself pushing a shopping cart. You're pushing as hard as you can and at some point you will reach a top speed. To move even faster you would need to add more force. So the faster you go the more force you would need. To reach the speed of light an object would need an infinite amount of force.

I've probably bored you to death but that's the best I could simplify it.

Date: 2011-09-25 09:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wrench0626.livejournal.com
This speed c is actually the speed at which all massless particles move, not just light.

So it is just a coincidence. Thank you!

Date: 2011-09-25 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] writerwench.livejournal.com
It will be interesting to see how the latest CERN results stack up against Einstein. It was actually discussed on the radio this morning!

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