To infinity and beyond!August 12, 2004 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Light Speed! Ever wondered what it would look like to be passed by am 1957 Chevy Bel-Air going at 539,999,900 km/h?
posted by wobh (11 comments total)

At the features page is a link to a page of 3-D models you can download and import into the program for further amusement.
posted by wobh at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2004

posted by swift at 9:47 AM on August 12, 2004

Well, no need for infinity. At the speed of light Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction reduces the distance between everything to zero. At c your traveller is everywhere in the universe at once. Does it 3D model that?
posted by snarfodox at 9:51 AM on August 12, 2004

Ever wondered what it would look like to be passed by am 1957 Chevy Bel-Air going at 539,999,900 km/h

Blink and you might miss it!
posted by filmgoerjuan at 4:28 PM on August 12, 2004

Ever wonder what it would look like to go from LA to Medford at Mach 9?
posted by Wet Spot at 4:52 PM on August 12, 2004

Relativism, relativism. These abstracts make one fatal assumption: that the moving object and the observer are in the same space/time.
However, if space and time are indeed the same thing, then if the moving object contracted *their* space, but not the observer's space, the moving object would appear to be traveling much faster than the observer's space would permit.
Think of it like looking at space through a magnifying glass, if you are the observer. Everything you look at is larger, as are the distances between things. An (big looking) ant could seem to walk several inches in a second or two, at a leisurely pace.

You have a spaceship. It can physically travel at, as example, 1/10,000,000th the speed of light (.0186 LS). If you can contract your space by 10,000,000 to 1, to someone in "normal" space, it would appear that you are 10,000,000 times larger and that you can travel at the speed of light. From your point of view, "normal" space has shrunk by 10,000,000 times. Mars, instead of 40M miles away, is now only 4. Not a long trip at .0186LS.
posted by kablam at 5:35 PM on August 12, 2004

I might add that Alpha Centauri, around 24 trillion miles away, the nearest star, would be around 2400 miles at .0186LS, or about 3500 miles/hour.
posted by kablam at 5:42 PM on August 12, 2004

Quantum Ravioli: "Would a chunk of metal (can of ravioli) impacting another, larger, rest mass structure (star destroyer) produce an "explosion" effect, or simply punch an appropriately shaped hole as it passed through?"
posted by NortonDC at 9:02 PM on August 12, 2004

No Kablam. It wasn't a "fatal assumption" at all. It was the values plugged into the program that output the result. This being a '57 Chevy in the case of this application.

Hypothetically magnifying that which is travelling near lightspeed is a neat idea, but I don't think it has any real or "relative" world applicability. Maybe it does. Who am I to say?

But I once posed a question in an ancient web forum (1996?). It went something like this: Say you had a door that was many lightyears thick. Say, from here to Alpha Centauri. Say, you wanted to turn that doorknob. Wouldn't the doorknob turn equally in in time with it's sister side, light years away?

I think my answer was yes, it would be possible, but you'd need a substance of infinite density. That's impossible, they also said. Although the theories of such are incomplete (see Steven Hawking's recent recantation on blackholes), nothing has ever been known to exist of that nature in what we could call a "workable reality".

I also used to envision the light coming off of say, Jesus. I imagined getting in front of the light, somehow, which was leaving Earth -- getting ahead of it by 2000 light years or so. With some technological miracle of unfathomably powerful magnification and computer processing, one could prove what really happened. Whether anything ever that's been told to us about history is actually true or not, we could find out, by somehow warping space to get ahead of the light-bound time and then recording it. It would answer every question ever posed by humankind!!!!!

I eventually quit going down that free-associatin' path because the physical constraints in doing something like this are obviously insurmountable.
posted by crasspastor at 1:01 AM on August 13, 2004

Andrew Hamilton's Special Relativity Pages. Chris Hillman and John Baez's. Lots of links therein.
posted by wobh at 5:54 AM on August 13, 2004

Also, on Andrew Hamilton's pages I found a link to Warp for Windows.

Good finds Wet Spot and NortonDC. Thanks!
posted by wobh at 6:00 AM on August 13, 2004

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