A trippy thought
Something I was just thinking of while waking up from a nap:
You're outside on a clear night staring up at the stars. Some of the stars you see are a millions of lightyears away - the photons from that star have been travelling since dinosaurs roamed the planet. That in iself is incomprehensibly cool to think about. And the fact that, through fate or chance (depending on what you beleive), that photon has been heading directly into your eye since long before you or recorded history existed. Way before the first caveman was saying "Ugg" and banging rocks together, that photon was already headed right for you. That in itself is really something heavy to think about.
But, it's really nothing new. I've thought the same thing looking at stars since right after learning about the concept of "speed of light" back in elementary school.
The newer, trippier thought that struck me tonight is:
If you take an object and accelerate it to the speed of light, the closer to light speed it gets, the more time slows down (relative to the object). When the object actually reaches lightspeed, time stops from the point of view of the object.
Photons travel at the speed of light, as photons ARE (well duh) light. Time does not occur to light. From the photon's "point of view" it was instantly flicked from the star to your eye. In the exact same instance it was emitted from the star, it collided with your eye. Although no time passed (from it's point of view) between it leaving the star and reaching it's destination (your eye), it's really intense to think about the fact that right before that infinitesimal piece of "non-time" you and your ancestors did not exist, but after that segment of "non-time" you did, and all of your ancestors except for the last few had already came into existence, lived their lives and died!
Looking at both points of view at the same time it's really hard to fathom, completely mindblowing to think about the insane difference between your point of view and the photon's "point of view". From your point of view, a completely incomprehensible amount of time passed (Nobody can truely comprehend "millions of years" beyond a vague "really long time" feeling), but from the photon's point of view less time passed than the time it takes from the noise of your computer fan to reach your ear, in fact NO TIME!
Fourth dimensionally, from the photon's point of view, that gigantic far away star is essentially, literally, touching your eye, although removed in the other three dimensions! But from your point of view, the star is insanely far away from you in all four time-space dimensions. Really really weird...
I'm still thinking about it, it's just trippier and more bizaare the more I think about it. It still hasn't totally sank in. Completely obvious, knowing about the speed of light and the relativity effects of that speed since I was a small boy, but never had a conscious realization of both before. Cool, huh? :)
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.