The c, the c!
October 24, 2011 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Here is a nice wee video that visualises special relativity; not by imagining the viewer to be travelling very fast, but rather by imagining the speed of light to be very slow. The creators of the code used to generate the images in the video have a rather accessible paper explaining the physics behind it here, and a page full of other lovely relativistic odds and sods here.
posted by Dim Siawns (15 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
After angular distortion, doppler and intensity I was sure the next effect was going to be "seeing dead relatives".
posted by DU at 9:18 AM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

The last time I heard that text-to-speech engine was in a GoonFleet recruiting video. It's still creepy.
posted by Fraxas at 9:21 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

That was pretty great.
posted by oddman at 9:38 AM on October 24, 2011

Video was a bit fuzzy for me, so on first glance instead of
  • angular distortion
  • doppler
  • intensity
I saw
  • angular distortion
  • doppler
  • insanity
posted by benito.strauss at 9:56 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Really great video. This immediately made me thing of The Lost Fleet which has the difficultly of battle at relativistic speeds as an integral part of the story. Very good illustration.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:07 AM on October 24, 2011

I vaguely recall an idea from Hubble, I think, that this is a matter of frames of reference again. There's no difference between lowering the speed of light to 1m/sec, and scaling up the universe by the inverse proportion. So basically these videos could be interpreted as the speed of light being unaltered, and the objects they're "viewing" are just huge, bigger than galaxy clusters.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:13 AM on October 24, 2011

The Doppler shift part has got me thinking about the effects c=1m/s would have on the way humans perceive colours.

c=frequency x wavelength

for photons.

If photons are leaving the sand in the desert with the same frequency but c is reduced by 3x10^8 then does that mean that the new wavelength will be equal to the old wavelength/3x10^8? If so that would mean that we wouldn't be able to see it.

Or would a consequence of reducing c be that the frequency of the photon would also be reduced? I guess it boils down to whether the energy of a photon is dependant on c.

It's been too long since I thought about real physics.
posted by neilb449 at 11:03 AM on October 24, 2011

So, from the desert part, it never actually got to c. If it did, would you see nothing at all? Or just a tiny white spot ahead of you?
posted by curious nu at 11:10 AM on October 24, 2011

If you go faster than the speed of light, everything will be dark.
Think about that at night fall this evening.
posted by monospace at 11:16 AM on October 24, 2011

I couldn't have been the only one thinking of this as they went through the cube.
posted by furtive at 11:57 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

So travelling at close to the speed of light is akin to viewing a badly encoded video on youtube? Got it. Carry on.
posted by schwa at 1:25 PM on October 24, 2011

At some point during the presentation, the synthesized voice turned into GlaDOS from Portal.

"with the position indicated on the HUD map. Remember - we are seeing the cube as it was, not as it is."

Wow. :)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:32 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a degree in Physics and scored my best result on the General Relativity paper, and that confused the hell out of me. I'm not sure I even understand what scenario they're trying to present.

Perhaps I'm just tired.
posted by Decani at 2:55 PM on October 24, 2011

The video was created in 1997, perhaps transferred from videocassette?

Much of the effect was lost on me due to poor video quality, but interesting nonetheless.
posted by etherist at 3:37 PM on October 24, 2011

I think that video was posted from the RealVideo links on the page, which have been there since 2000, according to the Wayback Machine. There might be higher quality video around, or this could likely be re-rendered in short order if the source data is available.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:23 PM on October 24, 2011

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