The Speed of Light
We are all familiarwith the effects of light from the Sun that reaches Earth every day. It is known that it takes about 4 minutes for light to reach the Earth after being emitted by the Sun. It might helpful to consider how light travels through space.
A familiar sight is the production of ripples in the surface of water when a stone is dropped in the water. A two dimensional effect is seen as ripples spread out from this action.. It might be thought that light waves act in a similar manner, spreading out from their source in every direction.
Thus, the wave front of light expands exponentially as it moves farthing and farther out in space. This expanding sphere might be considered as occupying a fourth dimension, a curvature of space; outside the three dimensional world that exists here on Earth.
As this process has been constantly occurring since the formation of our known universe, light must have continually filled our universe with radiant energy.
So, the actual speed of light might seem to be of little consequence in our evolving universe. This is because space in our universe is filled with an ocean of radiant energy, being constantly emitted by the Sun, the Milky Way and other galaxies. At the same instant as energy is being emitted by the Sun, previously emitted energy is seen here on Earth, and this is true for other stars and galaxies as well.
Thus, the Earth and the Solar System itself must have been born in this ocean of electromagnetic radiation , since this light energy having been emitted by its source long before the Solar System came into existence. This situation again emphasizes that trying to determine a value for the speed of light is of littlesignificance. The speed of light, to all intents and purposes might be considered to be infinite, a condition not capable of being measured.
Since light spreads out from its source in spherical fashion, it might be helpful to consider the expansion rate of a sphere per unit of time, rather than only being measured as a single ray of light. The speed of light measured by a rate of emission of energy in a sphere, spreading outward from its source, equals: 4/3 pi x R (radius) cubed/ second., which is the volume of a sphere, where R = 186,000 miles. which equals 1.33 x 3.1416 x 186,000 (cubed) equals 4.178328 x 643,485,000,000,000 equals
2,688,675,882,400,000 cubic miles per second. This volume of a sphere is filled with radiant energy from the Sun every second. A huge amount. Considering this rate of emission of energy by the Sun might be an alternate way of determining the speed of light in outer space.
. It might be helpful to compare the properties of light from stars and galaxies in outer space to more ordinary conditions that prevail in viewing emitted light from a room by someone standing, in the dark of night, outside a window. An observer standing outside this window would see much of the detail inside the room. As he moved farther and farther away, the view of details inside the room would become less and less, until only a point of light would be visible. Another observer at the same distance from the window, but at another location, would see much the same thing as the first observer. This situation shows that emitted light moves in waves in spherical fashion.
To o emphasize this view, we might take an imaginary trip to the area of the outer planets on a spaceship and view the Sun from that region of space. We would see a much dimmer Sun from that location. As one revolution about the Sun takes place, we would always see the same view of the Sun,a narrow ray of light ithe blackness of space. It is proposed here that the Sun in the background might illuminate the part of the sea of radiation constantly present in our Solar system.
A question. Is it possible that the movement of Earth, and other bodies in the Solar System, due to their rotation and movement around the Sun, could affect the outcome of attempts to measure the speed of light.
When I switch off the bedroom light before lying down, I sometimes wonder what happens to the light after the switch is turned off. Does the light continue on and strike the wall, to be absorbed as heat (radiant energy)? Or, instead, is it absorbed by the air molecules, having lost the energy needed to continue its journey?
Since the area being considered is so small, no definite answer can be found in this situation. However, going out into space and consider what is the fate of starlight when some occurrence affects light being emitted by stars, such as a passing nebula, would we see the light as it continues on its way, or would the light, having lost its source of emission, be absorbed into the vacuum of space, having lost the driving energy needed to continue on its journey?