Announcement: Your votes are in! The January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt.

Absolute time and the speed of light

Use this forum to discuss the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science deals with the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.
Post Reply
Happy recluse
Posts: 198
Joined: November 25th, 2013, 1:02 am
Favorite Philosopher: Kant
Location: Michigan

Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Happy recluse » December 25th, 2013, 12:45 am

I thought I had posted this yesterday, but it hasn't appeared yet. This reason explains things if this OP appears twice.

According to relativity, time within one reference frame is from the time in another reference frame. For example, a “minute” for A, who is moving, is longer than a “minute” for B, who is stationary. The conclusion is that there is no absolute and correct length of time for a minute. Some minutes take longer than other minutes, and none of them is the “right” one.

The speed of light is constant. Speed is distance over time. So, if the speed of light is constant, and one element of that speed is time, then a minute is always the same for every beam of light. That is, there is an absolute or a correct time.
If I don’t respond, assume that your comment isn’t worthwhile or that I’ve already addressed your concerns. If that’s not palatable, assume that you’re right. Feel free to pick the conclusion that helps you to feel good about yourself.

Pen santo
Posts: 10
Joined: December 17th, 2013, 1:47 pm

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Pen santo » December 26th, 2013, 4:39 pm

Happy recluse wrote: For example, a “minute” for A, who is moving, is longer than a “minute” for B, who is stationary. The conclusion is that there is no absolute and correct length of time for a minute. Some minutes take longer than other minutes, and none of them is the “right” one.

The speed of light is constant. Speed is distance over time. So, if the speed of light is constant, and one element of that speed is time, then a minute is always the same for every beam of light. That is, there is an absolute or a correct time.
I don't know a lot about Physics but I would really like to know why the speed of light is constant. Has it always been the same? Will it always be the same? Is it possible that it might be different way beyond the edge of the Universe?

As for time, my understanding of time is that it is the interval between events. An event happens now and then another event happens. We look at a watch or clock and see that a 'minute' has passed. At least that is what we call that interval, based on the divisions of time we have created. If 2 similar events happened in a space craft say traveling near the speed of light would the interval between be the same? Would it still be correct to call it a 'minute' bearing in mind that our minute is based on an hour which in turn is based on a day and so on.

Happy recluse
Posts: 198
Joined: November 25th, 2013, 1:02 am
Favorite Philosopher: Kant
Location: Michigan

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Happy recluse » December 27th, 2013, 5:32 pm

Oh boy, you don't ask anything easy. Hopefully, someone better informed than I am will correct my mistakes.

First, the speed of light is constant, always the same speed, only in a vacuum. We can slow that speed though a cold medium, for example. But it's always the same in a vacuum.

Second, and most alarming, the speed of light is the same for everyone in every circumstance. For example, if you stand still and I move past you toward a beam of light at 100 mph, the speed of light will be the same for both of us. We expect that the speed of light is 100 mph less for me because I am moving toward it. Unlike light, the speed of sound is different for each of us. If you're still, and I move by you chasing a sound wave at 100 mph, the speed of sound is less 100 mph for me than you. So light's being constant means more than "the speed of sound is always the same given similar conditions." Light's being constant means it is the same speed no matter how fast you move toward it. (Frankly, I find this conclusion about the speed of light absurd.)

Now to answer your question, as best as I can. Typically we think of gravity as affecting objects instantly. If the sun went out of existence, we'd know it instantly because we'd lose its gravitational pull instantly. We would not see that the sun disappeared for about eight minutes because it takes that long for the light to pass out. Thus, it seems that gravity acts on things "at a distance" instantly and with no medium between them.

The possibility of "action at a distance" bothers many philosophers and scientists throughout history. Much like the mind-body problem, the idea that one thing acts on another with nothing between them seems impossible. (I find no problem with it, but I'll leave those arguments out for now.) Thus, if we deny the possibility of action at a distance, then there must be something that moves at the maximum speed. That is, if no action works instantly, then there must be a fastest moving thing.

The fastest thing we know is light. If anything moves faster than light, then light is not the fastest thing; thus, nothing moves faster than light (in a vacuum) and that speed never changes.

I hope I've explained the arguments accurately and clearly. Please correct or challenge anything I've written, if for no other reason than to improve my own understanding.
If I don’t respond, assume that your comment isn’t worthwhile or that I’ve already addressed your concerns. If that’s not palatable, assume that you’re right. Feel free to pick the conclusion that helps you to feel good about yourself.

Pen santo
Posts: 10
Joined: December 17th, 2013, 1:47 pm

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Pen santo » December 28th, 2013, 5:30 am

OK I understand that the speed of light is considered constant in a vacuum but the speed is modified in water or air for example. I still don't understand WHY it is constant even in the so called vacuum of Space. Is Space really a vacuum? Isn't Space in fact filled with electric and magnetic fields and don't these affect the speed of light? Isn't Space more like a plenum than a vacuum? If something did travel faster than light wouldn't it seem to 'jump' from one place to another without seeming to move between those places? As a non physicist I find these ideas fascinating while puzzling. :?

AB1OB
Posts: 239
Joined: December 22nd, 2013, 10:55 am
Contact:

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by AB1OB » December 28th, 2013, 12:52 pm

Time is always relative. "Absolute time", from my perspective, is a measure of wave action, as measured from its source.

In common terms, we could call this source, the "singularity". Unless it is shown that one direction has preference over another, we can assume that the wave action is omni-directional, that is, shaped like an expanding sphere.

We can now imagine this sphere, as being constructed of onion layer-like concentric spheres.

Each of these ever-enlarging spheres can be thought of as an "absolute time position".

If we have zero relative motion, this means we are traveling on a wave along a "radial" of the expansion .

{In actuality, there are always relative motions but they are negligible compared to the wave motion of expansion (which occurs at the speed of light).}..........I can go into this later.

The point at hand is relative time. We can consider the "stationary point of reference" to be traveling through the expanding sphere of absolute time in a radial direction. If we use the onion-layer analogy, we see that the radial direction is the shortest path to get from one layer to the next.

Any other path (motion relative to the radial) is a longer path.

longer path = longer time intervals relative to the radial.

Happy recluse
Posts: 198
Joined: November 25th, 2013, 1:02 am
Favorite Philosopher: Kant
Location: Michigan

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Happy recluse » December 28th, 2013, 2:24 pm

Pen santo wrote:OK I understand that the speed of light is considered constant in a vacuum but the speed is modified in water or air for example. I still don't understand WHY it is constant even in the so called vacuum of Space. Is Space really a vacuum? Isn't Space in fact filled with electric and magnetic fields and don't these affect the speed of light? Isn't Space more like a plenum than a vacuum? If something did travel faster than light wouldn't it seem to 'jump' from one place to another without seeming to move between those places? As a non physicist I find these ideas fascinating while puzzling. :?
The argument was not originally supported by empirical data. Einstein considered this argument as a "thought experiment." Either there is instantaneous action at a distance or there is not. If there is not, then something must move faster than everything else. Nothing moves faster than the fastest thing, so that thing must move at a constant rate of speed.

Hope this answers your question; I suspect I missed your point.

The point that bothers me is the contention that it moves the same speed no matter how fast you move to catch it. That is, if a beam of light moves at C, and I chase it at speed C -100,000 miles a second, the beam moves at C +100,000 miles a second. That's impossible because the speed of light never changes, so it's not that my speed is so great, it's that time slowed down. That's where I begin to giggle at the silliness of it all.

-- Updated December 28th, 2013, 1:32 pm to add the following --
AB1OB wrote:Time is always relative. "Absolute time", from my perspective, is a measure of wave action, as measured from its source.
The last time I was this lost, I was reading Heidegger. Let me take a stab at what I think you’re saying and then you can correct me from there.

Suppose I lay a piece of paper flat on a table. I push the paper together at its opposite ends. Suppose the paper makes a series of humps instead of one big hump in the middle. Now, if something travels along the paper from the top of a hump to the top of the next hump, it will traverse the distance quicker than if it travels up one side of a hump and down the other side, and the up one side of the next hump and down the other side.

I'm not mentioning time, yet.

Does that resemble what you’re describing?
If I don’t respond, assume that your comment isn’t worthwhile or that I’ve already addressed your concerns. If that’s not palatable, assume that you’re right. Feel free to pick the conclusion that helps you to feel good about yourself.

Pen santo
Posts: 10
Joined: December 17th, 2013, 1:47 pm

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Pen santo » December 29th, 2013, 5:55 am

AB1OB wrote:Time is always relative. "Absolute time", from my perspective, is a measure of wave action, as measured from its source.
Pardon my ignorance but I still don't follow. If time is relative, what is it relative to? My understanding is that time is the interval between events. How is that interval relative? I am sorry but I don't understand what you mean by 'Absolute time'.

AB1OB
Posts: 239
Joined: December 22nd, 2013, 10:55 am
Contact:

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by AB1OB » December 29th, 2013, 7:29 pm

Pen santo wrote: (Nested quote removed.)


Pardon my ignorance but I still don't follow. If time is relative, what is it relative to? My understanding is that time is the interval between events. How is that interval relatijjve? I am sorry but I don't understand what you mean by 'Absolute time'.
Time is relative to each observer. There really is no currently accepted theory of "absolute time" (that I know of). That's why I said , "from my perspective". And that is a theoretical path of zero relative motion, through time. That would be the shortest relative time possible. Any movement, relative to that path, would involve a larger time interval (again, relative to that zero path.)

You can look into the Lorentz contraction for mathematical formulas (based on constant speed of light making it necessary to "adjust" time) but if want a verbal desription of what happens, here's my opinion; When a body is "at rest" it gets the full effect of expansion over time. When it expends energy to move, it reduces some of the "passing expansion".

Happy recluse
Posts: 198
Joined: November 25th, 2013, 1:02 am
Favorite Philosopher: Kant
Location: Michigan

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Happy recluse » December 29th, 2013, 10:31 pm

AB1OB wrote:Time is relative to each observer.
The speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second. This speed is always the same, provided light travels in a vacuum. If that speed is always the same, then the length of a meter and the duration of a second is always the same. In fact, such is the case for every single observer.
If I don’t respond, assume that your comment isn’t worthwhile or that I’ve already addressed your concerns. If that’s not palatable, assume that you’re right. Feel free to pick the conclusion that helps you to feel good about yourself.

AB1OB
Posts: 239
Joined: December 22nd, 2013, 10:55 am
Contact:

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by AB1OB » December 29th, 2013, 11:16 pm

Happy recluse wrote: (Nested quote removed.)


The speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second. This speed is always the same, provided light travels in a vacuum. If that speed is always the same, then the length of a meter and the duration of a second is always the same. In fact, such is the case for every single observer.
All is fine as long as 2 observers are "co-moving/staionary", relative to each other. Time is equal for both. Then they move, relative to each other. Now each observer, finds their own time is "normal" but the other's time is now slower

animated examples on this link

Happy recluse
Posts: 198
Joined: November 25th, 2013, 1:02 am
Favorite Philosopher: Kant
Location: Michigan

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Happy recluse » December 30th, 2013, 12:16 am

AB1OB wrote:
All is fine as long as 2 observers are "co-moving/staionary", relative to each other. Time is equal for both. Then they move, relative to each other. Now each observer, finds their own time is "normal" but the other's time is now slower
I understand that. I don't think I'm making my point clearly. Two observers have different readings on each other's amount of time. By this I mean, the length of a second is longer or shorter for different observers. That's fine.

However, all observers see light moving at the same rate because the length of a second for a beam of light is always the same. If the endurance of second is always the same for beams of light, then those seconds are absolute in the sense that they are always the same, and they are always seen to be the same.

If you want to know how long a second lasts, you cannot look at your own clock. You cannot look at someone else's clock. You can look at the speed of light and always know how long a second truly lasts. Thus, the true and absolute length of a second is that found in the speed of light.
If I don’t respond, assume that your comment isn’t worthwhile or that I’ve already addressed your concerns. If that’s not palatable, assume that you’re right. Feel free to pick the conclusion that helps you to feel good about yourself.

Granth
Posts: 2084
Joined: July 20th, 2012, 11:56 pm

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Granth » December 30th, 2013, 4:55 am

Although light doesn't "speed" or travel. Sensory perception perceives time and therefore perceives speed. Sensory perception is like a filter of what things actually are. It is a necessary limitation because perception is motion and therefore sees objects from this motion perspective. Light is still. The sense of sight cannot respond to stillness. That which the eyes “feel” and believe to be Light is but wave motion simulating the idea of Light. Like all things else in this electric wave universe the idea of Light cannot be produced. Electric waves simulate idea only. They do not become idea. When man sees the light of the sun he believes that he is actually seeing light when the nerves of his eyes are but “feeling” the intense, rapid, short- wave vibrations of the kind of wave motion which he senses as incandescence. The intensely vibrant electric current mirrored into the senses of the eyes fairly burns them. They cannot stand that high rate of vibration. The eyes would be destroyed by such a vibration but light would not be the cause of that destruction. Fast motion, simulating light, would be the cause. It would be like sending a high voltage electric current over a wire, so fine that the current would burn it out.

Man likewise cannot see darkness. The nerves of his eyes, which sense motion, slow down to a rate of vibration that he can no longer “feel.”Man is so accustomed to the idea that he actually sees light in various intensities illuminating various substances to greater or lesser degree that it is difficult for him to realize that his own senses are but acting as mirrors to reflect various intensities of wave motion. But that is all that is happening.

Every electrically conditioned thing in Nature reflects the vibrations of every other thing, to fulfill its desire to synchronize its vibrations with every other thing. All matter is the motion of light. All motion is expressed in waves. All light waves are mirrors that reflect each other’s condition unto the farthermost star.

This is an electrically conditioned wave universe. All wave conditions are forever seeking oneness. For this reason all sensation responds to all other sensation.

Sorry to have broken the news to those I haven't already broken this news to previously. Those who wish to believe that light speeds around the place please free to ignore this information.
If reality was determined by a popularity vote we would not have any pioneers.

AB1OB
Posts: 239
Joined: December 22nd, 2013, 10:55 am
Contact:

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by AB1OB » December 30th, 2013, 10:38 am

Happy recluse wrote:.......I understand that. I don't think I'm making my point clearly. ...................... However, all observers see light moving at the same rate because the length of a second for a beam of light is always the same. If the endurance of second is always the same for beams of light, then those seconds are absolute in the sense that they are always the same, and they are always seen to be the same.

If you want to know how long a second lasts, you cannot look at your own clock. You cannot look at someone else's clock. You can look at the speed of light and always know how long a second truly lasts. Thus, the true and absolute length of a second is that found in the speed of light.
OK. Thanks for explaining that. And the "official" method to confirm the length of a meter is via light speed as well. There is something that makes relative light-speed constant and unrelated to the movement of the source.
Granth wrote:Although light doesn't "speed" or travel. Sensory perception perceives time and therefore perceives speed. Sensory perception is like a filter of what things actually are. It is a necessary limitation because perception is motion and therefore sees objects from this motion perspective. Light is still. The sense of sight cannot respond to stillness. That which the eyes “feel” and believe to be Light is but wave motion simulating the idea of Light. Like all things else in this electric wave universe the idea of Light cannot be produced. Electric waves simulate idea only. They do not become idea. When man sees the light of the sun he believes that he is actually seeing light when the nerves of his eyes are but “feeling” the intense, rapid, short- wave vibrations of the kind of wave motion which he senses as incandescence. The intensely vibrant electric current mirrored into the senses of the eyes fairly burns them. They cannot stand that high rate of vibration. The eyes would be destroyed by such a vibration but light would not be the cause of that destruction. Fast motion, simulating light, would be the cause. It would be like sending a high voltage electric current over a wire, so fine that the current would burn it out.

Man likewise cannot see darkness. The nerves of his eyes, which sense motion, slow down to a rate of vibration that he can no longer “feel.”Man is so accustomed to the idea that he actually sees light in various intensities illuminating various substances to greater or lesser degree that it is difficult for him to realize that his own senses are but acting as mirrors to reflect various intensities of wave motion. But that is all that is happening.

Every electrically conditioned thing in Nature reflects the vibrations of every other thing, to fulfill its desire to synchronize its vibrations with every other thing. All matter is the motion of light. All motion is expressed in waves. All light waves are mirrors that reflect each other’s condition unto the farthermost star.

This is an electrically conditioned wave universe. All wave conditions are forever seeking oneness. For this reason all sensation responds to all other sensation.

Sorry to have broken the news to those I haven't already broken this news to previously. Those who wish to believe that light speeds around the place please free to ignore this information.
So let's look at what light really is and what it is really doing...There are 2 types of energy arrangements, let's call them Matter & Light.

Matter contains an acceleration force that we call mass. This causes the energy to become oriented with other mass via a "tethering" that we refer to as gravity.

Light has no internal acceleration and so it does not become oriented, or reoriented, or tethered to other Light.

Light:Matter is analogous to Wake:Ship.

The ship is on a course through 2-dimensional space (surface plane of ocean) along a line of travel. Its wake spreads away from the course, 2-dimensionally from each point along this line.

The Matter is on a course through 3-dimensional space (sphere of expansion) along a line of travel. Its wake spreads away from the course, 3-dimensionally from each point along this line.

The key idea is expansion. Specifically, spherical expansion. This is not "cosmic expansion" as currently perceived. Cosmic expansion is a relative expansion of galaxies. This spherical expansion is the underlying reason behind cosmic expansion. It is also the reason that existence is possible at all and makes "seeing" possible. Actually, it is the "differential expansion" that makes this all happen;

Radius:Sphere is analogous to Matter:Light

Matter is a wave. Waves must move to exist. Where is the source of the matter waves? Reverse extrapolation of observed data suggests a singularity. Unless there is some reason to prefer one path over another, it can be assumed that equal radial movement, away from a singularity, will create an expanding sphere.

Light is like a wake. On a lake, we have 2 moving boats. They travel past each other. We see that each boat creates a wake along its path. The wake starts at the boat and goes all the way across the lake until it hits the shore OR the other boat. When it hits the shore or other boat it transfers its energy into that medium and the medium reflects, absorbs or in some other way, "uses that energy". The wakes that hit other wakes, are able to "move through each other" and continue their paths, (the energy is not transferred as it would be in a Matter collision).

Same thing with Light. Emitted from Matter and continues its spherical expansion wake until it again meets Matter.

So to understand Light, we can compare it to the differential expansion of a radius to its sphere.

If a radius is growing in length at a fixed speed, it causes an associated fixed volumetric growth. This volumetric growth is equivalent along any radial within the overall sphere.

Image

So we (Matter) "exist through time" by traveling a radius of an expanding sphere. This speed is the "speed of light". It doesn't really matter what that "actual" speed is, it is really the "special relativity", of the radius to its sphere, that creates the appearance of a "constant speed of light".

Light does not travel in "rays". Each wavelength of a "ray" is an expanding sphere wave front. (Side note: while the light always expands spherically, it can be "shaped" by shadowing parts of the expansion with matter.) When this expanding spherical wave front collides at our eye, we see a tangential perpendicular of energy (commonly visualized as a photon). So what we are seeing as "a ray" is actually a series of tangential points on a series of spheres, each one initiated at a later time position.

Steve3007
Posts: 5629
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes
Location: UK

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by Steve3007 » December 30th, 2013, 11:00 am

Granth:
Sorry to have broken the news to those I haven't already broken this news to previously.
Don't worry about it. You haven't. You've simply done what you've done before - made some evidence-free assertions using terminology that makes no sense according to the conventional definitions of the words you use but that you do not explain according to any new novel sense in which you might be using them. Like this:
All wave conditions are forever seeking oneness.
Believe me, I don't say these things lightly. I read your words very carefully to try to discern something meaningful in them. I'm very interested in this category of poster on this website: the "science babble" poster with these unexplained but profound-sounding one-liners. What intrigues me is whether they themselves discern anything useful or meaningful in them.

So, for example:
That which the eyes “feel” and believe to be Light is but wave motion simulating the idea of Light. Like all things else in this electric wave universe the idea of Light cannot be produced. Electric waves simulate idea only. They do not become idea. When man sees the light of the sun he believes that he is actually seeing light when the nerves of his eyes are but “feeling” the intense, rapid, short- wave vibrations of the kind of wave motion which he senses as incandescence. The intensely vibrant electric current mirrored into the senses of the eyes fairly burns them. They cannot stand that high rate of vibration. The eyes would be destroyed by such a vibration but light would not be the cause of that destruction. Fast motion, simulating light, would be the cause. It would be like sending a high voltage electric current over a wire, so fine that the current would burn it out.
This long passage appears to say nothing testable about the sensation of "seeing". It's just a long stream of unexplained non-standard uses of terminology without any progression from one to the next - i.e. no argument. There's no explanation of what it means for "wave motion" to "simulate the idea of light". No explanation of what it means to say that "the idea of light cannot be produced." No explanation of what it means for something to "become idea". No explanation of the asserted difference between "seeing" and "feeling" light. No explanation of the clearly non-standard sense in which the word "burns" is being used. No explanation of why a "high rate of vibration" would cause these "burns". And so on.

I really am interested to know if you intend to say anything useful about the nature of "seeing", and perception in general. In the past, you have sometimes seemed to start making some interesting points about the subjective nature of all perception and the fact that the concept of objectivity, in the sense of pretending that the observer and her mind can be made irrelevant, has big problems. But then you seem to retreat into these pseudo-scientific-terminology passages. I think it's a pity.

AB1OB
Posts: 239
Joined: December 22nd, 2013, 10:55 am
Contact:

Re: Absolute time and the speed of light

Post by AB1OB » December 30th, 2013, 12:22 pm

Steve3007 wrote:...................................................................... I really am interested to know if you intend to say anything useful about the nature of "seeing", and perception in general. In the past, you have sometimes seemed to start making some interesting points about the subjective nature of all perception and the fact that the concept of objectivity...................................
Thanks for posting that! My earlier post was a digression, necessary to give you an idea of what I mean by "spherical expansion". But this all is intimately tied to perspective and perception.

Classically, we are creatures that base reality on our perception of the portion of the universal system in which we are a part. Science is actually a perspective. Yes, it has rules and formulas and data but that is the work and results of science. Science is a "defined perspective" with the intent of producing a "reproducible observer". They commonly call this "objectivity", which is arguable but to make experiments "legitimate", all they really need is consistency. Therefore, it doesn't really need to be "objective", just consistent.

Why?

Because science always depends on the observer. Without a consistent observer, results are meaningless.

If we have an observer on either side of a 2-sided billboard, they each have a different perspective which yields a different perception even though they are both looking at the same billboard.

OK, back to topic...so we creatures have our basic senses and the "objective observer" is actually very prejudiced. Thinking things like; the earth is flat, the sun is born is the east and dies in the west, matter is solid, the stuff we see is really 'out there', etc. The perspective has to evolve via scientific concepts and then the perception changes to accept things like; the earth is round and spinning on an axis around the sun, that matter is atoms (which are mostly space), that there really is not a blue sky 'out there', etc.

We think of things as, being 'out there', just sitting in reality...for our everyday world (the environment in which we evolved) this works fine. But when distances get really big (the light has been traveling a long time), 'position' starts to lose its identity as a proper interpretation of reality. So when we "look out a window and see a forest", we are really "interpreting data collected from light of different ages (amounts of expansion)" inside our minds.

Anyway my point is that this expansion is what carries light into the future, making sight (and life itself) possible.

-- Updated December 30th, 2013, 12:46 pm to add the following --

side topic: Entanglement While I have gotten to the idea of a light ray actually being a series of expanding spheres, in my view, each sphere is made of (what we view as) entangled photons.

Using this perspective, double slit results become easily explainable. We are always dealing with waves, although we can limit our focus of observation to a "part" of a wave (which makes them appear 'part'icle-like).

I think what scientists have been calling "instantaneous communication" between distant objects is really just 2 points on the same expansion sphere but diffrent vectors.

Post Reply