Science junkies .. I need help with this one.

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Jeremy, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. Jeremy
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    Jeremy TRANSFER!!!

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    In regards to the "speed" in which an object travels through space.

    On earth we determine speed by how fast an object is moving in relation to the ground.
    The speed of the earth is determined by it's relation to the sun.
    The speed of the sun is determined by it's relation to the center of the galaxy. etc. etc.

    How is the speed of an object determined in the vacuum of outerspace?
    Light obviously travels at a constant speed in relation to it's source, but all light sources in the universe are themselves "moving".
    How do we know what "stationary" is in outerspace to identify the true "speed" of an object? And how does this factor into setting limitations on how 'fast' matter can "travel'.

    I guess what I'm trying to figure out is whether or not "the speed of light" is actually a barrier when it comes to how "fast" matter can travel.

    Any thoughts?
     
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  2. CrusaderFrank
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    CrusaderFrank Diamond Member

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    It's determined according to the point of view of the observer.

    So depending on who is counting and where they are and what their frame of reference is, Earth has several speeds all of which are "Correct"
     
  3. Jeremy
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    Jeremy TRANSFER!!!

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    So by your definition there is no "true" speed. Thus no physical limitation to how fast matter can travel through a "vacuum". -at least that is what I am starting to believe myself.
     
  4. ABikerSailor
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    ABikerSailor Platinum Member

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    The speed limit for the universe is 186,000 miles/sec, or the speed of light.

    Watch The Universe sometime, they explain it very well there.
     
  5. Jeremy
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    I guess I just don't buy into the theory that the speed of matter is limited in relation to "the speed of light" and that matter would turn into energy once it breaks that threshold.
     
  6. CrusaderFrank
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    CrusaderFrank Diamond Member

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    I highly recommend the book "Hyperspace" by Michio Kaku
     
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  7. Jeremy
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    I love that show and watch it all the time. But what is still unanswered, in my opinion, is what that speed is in relation to. How do they determine a 'stationary' point in the universe to base that measurement on?
     
  8. Dr.Traveler
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    Dr.Traveler Mathematician

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    What Frank said is correct. I'd just add that it's been scientifically proven that the speed of light is constant in all frames of reference. That's why its the universal speed limit. Even light itself can't be accelerated faster than c.
     
  9. Dr.Traveler
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    Dr.Traveler Mathematician

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    You can't. Part of relativity is the fact there's no unique frame of reference. That's why the fact that light moves at the same speed regardless of frame of reference is so baffling the first time you see it.

    Take this as an example:

    You're standing stationary. A train whizzes by at 50 mph and a person on the train throws a ball at 80 mph (in his reference frame) from the train, to you the observer it is travelling at 130 mph (80+50).

    However, if the person on the train turns on a flashlight, in his reference frame it is traveling at c. Strangely enough in your reference frame it is also traveling at c.

    That's the issue. Experiment after experiment has proven light always moves c through a vacuum in any frame of reference. The idea that c is the universal speed limit comes from that.
     
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  10. Dr.Traveler
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    BTW, I should add that c is a local speed limit. It is possible globally to exceed c with respect to a very distant observer and his frame of reference.
     

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