MadSci Network: Physics

Subject: Time and the speed of light

Date: Sat Jul 11 07:07:08 1998
Posted by Adam Hutchison
Grade level: 7-9
School: Surbiton Preparatory School for Boys
City: Kingston upon Thames State/Province: Surrey
Country: UK
Area of science: Physics
ID: 900158828.Ph

Adam's dad writes:

My 9-year old son, Adam, and I have been puzzling over a question 
relating to the theory of Relativity.  I had been explaining to him 
(as well as I understand it) the relationship between space and time, 
illustrating it with Einstein's own example of a tram travelling on a 
beam of light away from a clock tower whose clock face shows 'noon'.

I had explained to him that, travelling away from the clock at the 
speed of light, the time on the clock would perpetually be noon, since 
the light from the clock would never catch up with the traveller.

Here is the question we've been puzzling over:  Suppose there are two 
clocks, 186000 miles apart, both showing 'noon'.  Travelling at the 
speed of light, it will take me one second to get from the one to the 
other, at which moment the clock from which I started will still show 
noon.  But what time will I see on the face of the clock at my 

Re: Time and the speed of light

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