Okay so this is a bit different to my previous posts, but I thought it was time for some science loveage. Why? Because I absolutely love science! So here are just three things I find amazing about physics in particular:

  1.      Space is freakin’ huge! Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how spacious it is. The nearest star to the sun, Proxima Centauri, is 4.24 light years away. So if you were to travel at the speed of light*- the universal speed limit- it would still take you 4.24 years. Just to put that into perspective, imagine you had a model of the sun: a sphere 1 foot in diameter. To scale, the model of Proxima Centauri would be about 10,300 miles away!
  2.       When you look at the stars, you are looking into the past. In other words- if you want to see the past, you don’t need a time machine- just look at the stars. We see things because light is reflected off them- we can’t see if there’s no light. But because space is so huge, it takes light from distant stars a very long time to reach us, so when we see them, we’re seeing them as they were however long ago since the light left them. And that can be many years. So even though some of those stars might look healthy enough, some could have long since exploded.
  3.       Time is relative. This is the point I find most incredible. One aspect of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is that time is relative; the faster we move- the slower time goes. So if I’m running and you’re just walking- I’m experiencing time slightly differently to how you’re experiencing time; my watch would run slower than yours. However, the effect is absolutely tiny- it’s negligible and so we don’t notice this in everyday life, which is why it sounds so crazy. It’s only when you start approaching light speed, these effects become noticeable. If you managed to travel at light speed, time would stand still; if you broke the speed of light, you’d go back in time. And that’s why “faster than light” neutrinos caused such a scandal last year at CERN- it’s not possible to travel faster than light. It turned out that the odd results were due to systematic error- the neutrinos were actually under the speed limit, so no need for a speeding ticket after all.

(*Speed of light in a vacuum is about 300 million metres per second)

I’m thinking of dedicating a post to the Theory of Relativity some stage in the future, since I don’t feel one relatively short paragraph is enough to do it justice and it’s a theory I have a tendency to rant on about every so often. It was reading about it that I first knew I wanted needed to do my degree in physics.

Anyway, those are just three things that make me smile about physics. Feel free to share your thoughts. :)

Thanks for reading

-Qcat

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