Light is really slow.

Riding Light:

In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast. But as soon as you view it against the vast distances of the universe, it's unfortunately very slow. This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system, from a human perspective.

I've taken liberties with certain things like the alignment of planets and asteroids, as well as ignoring the laws of relativity concerning what a photon actually "sees" or how time is experienced at the speed of light, but overall I've kept the size and distances of all the objects as accurate as possible. I also decided to end the animation just past Jupiter as I wanted to keep the running length below an hour.

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12 Responses:

  1. Erorus says:

    See also: If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, which can auto-scroll at the speed of light.

  2. James C. says:

    Nice use of Steve Reich.

    • nooj says:

      Yeah, this is a good mixtape! Not as many videos as usual.

      Until the next mixtape, here are some music videos I like:

      1. Banoffee - Got It (2014)
      2. Nosaj Thing - Eclipse/Blue (2012)
      3. Estereo Humanzee - Insaciable (2014)
      4. Distubed - The Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel cover) (2015)
      5. Within Temptation - Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush cover) (2003)
      6. Bakermat - One Day (Vandaag) (2014)
      7. Daniel Avery - Drone Logic (2014)
      8. Cashier No. 9 - Lost at Sea (2011)
      9. Miley Cyrus - Jolene (Dolly Parton cover) (2012)
      10. Au4 - So Just Hang On, Beautiful One (2013)

      (bonus) Joywave - Tongues (uncensored, NSFW nudism)

      What are your latest favorite songs?

  3. Nick Gully says:

    In the photon's reference frame, this all happens simultaneously.

    • Nick Lamb says:

      Indeed. "Ignoring ... how time is experienced at the speed of light" is a massive cop-out. Yes, space is very big, I believe a famous book covered that pretty well already and it didn't claim in doing so that "light is really slow" because that's so completely unhelpful in understanding anything.

      • Thomas Lord says:

        The video illustrates how slowly information propagates in the solar system from (more or less) all terrestrial frames of reference.

  4. jkow says:

    From the Comments:

    Mr. Joe 1 year ago

    I WANT THIS AS A SCREENSAVER! :-)))))))))))))

  5. Matt M says:

    The author should have used Philip Glass' "Einstein on the Beach". Thematically appropriate and you get some of that one two three one two three one two three one two three four one two three four one two three four five one two three four five one two three four five six.

  6. thielges says:

    I saw an interview with the original "one two three one two three one two three" vocalist. The surprise was that she has a thick Brooklyn accent.

  7. db48x says:

    Light's not "slow", even if it is slower than we'd like.

    I love the video though, it's really well done. Watching it was simultaneously relaxing and thought-provoking.

  8. Patrick Gibson says:

    This is why we need to spin up the FTL all of the time.

  9. bobbybobbob says:

    Light's the fastest thing there is!

    "Life Is Short" irks me. Life is the longest thing anyone has ever done.

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