Thursday, January 29, 2015

186,000 Miles Per Second

Some time ago, I suggested that perhaps the speed of light is actually the speed of consciousness. The speed of light seems to be one of the universe's givens. We cannot explain why light “travels” at around 186,000 miles per second; it just does. Nor do we really understand why anything traveling at that speed does not experience the passing of time. (At the speed of light, time does not pass.) And of course, we really have no idea of what time is, really. It's just there, an apparently limitless sea that we swim in – and in only one direction, forward.

My Dad used to look up into the sky at night and ask how could all that be just an accident. One might say the same about any of the various fundamental physical constants that science has laid bare. They seem to be just what is needed for a universe in which we could come into being. We live in a Goldilocks universe, not too hot and not too cold.

So perhaps we might ask what does the speed of light tell us, if anything, about the nature of a reality that seems just right for us? First, without a speed of light – which places a limit on matter, which cannot travel any faster and thus must exist in time – everything would happen at once. Because everything does not happen at once – at least to things made up of matter – we can experience reality as the passage of time. That light travels so very quickly, compared to our experience of time, long distances of space are compressed into short intervals of our experience. Light travels 186,000 miles with every second we breath. That speed measures exactly how much slower we move through our physical existence than the instantaneous eternal of the universe beyond time that light exists within. 

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements--surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Job 38:4-7


MBishton said...

There are so many ideas out there that I don't understand but can enjoy playing within my brain's limited capacity.

The movie "Interstellar" plays on the notion that all time - past, present and future - happen simultaneously. This obliterates the notion of moving around the universe at 186K MPS, or across time, for that matter.

I listened to Roger Penrose on NPR talk about more recent theoretical calculations that the universe goes through sequential big bangs.

At birth of the universe, before matter formed, the plazma is calculated to have moved out at a speed much greater than 186K MPS.

So I can appreciate the logic of your arguments constructed around the speed of light. I just don't know enough to think it true. I do know enough to appreciate the theoretical thought and science that explores all of these fascinating models; like turning the hope diamond and looking through its endless facets to a piece of what is out there.

Gerard Gallucci said...

All time does happen at once, from the perspective of anyone/anything that "travels" at the speed of light. Consider the photon released at the Big Bang. Everywhere it will ever be in the life of the universe, it will be at the same moment: