Bracing against the wind  

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Realitivity Makes a Big Assumption

Einstein, in his theory of relativity, made the assumption that the laws of physics were immutable across the universe. Upon this assumption, the speed of light must be constant.

But why must we make this assumption? It is very possible that physics of matter is different when that matter is moving at a different velocity or even in a different location in space.

It seems comforting to declare as axiomatic the assumption that the physics we experience here on earth are "the same everywhere else". But this is a bold and ego-centered assumption.

The earth, after all is whipping around the sun at 30 km/sec, and the sun is whipping around the galactic center at 250 km/sec. Things could, very well, affect the speed of light, and the relationship between mass and energy in some way. They would also affect the physics of our measuring devices, so detecting any changes in them would be difficult.

It is possible, for example, that simply "moving faster" changes our relationship to time, so that it is possible to move "faster than the speed of light" for the traveller, but that the observer sees the travel as simply lightspeed. The traveller would then arrive very quickly at his destination from his perception, but that when he arrives, he would find that it has taken a lot longer to get there than he perceived.


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