The person traveling at the speed of light would experience a slowing of time. For that person, time would move slower than for someone who is not moving. Also, their field of vision would change drastically. The world would appear through a tunnel-shaped window in front of the aircraft in which they are traveling.
Speed is thrilling to human beings – there’s no denying. This has been the case ever since the wheel was invented and speed was no longer determined by the strength of our legs. The faster one goes, the more thrilled one feels, although for some, speed can be really intimidating. In today’s modern age, we’ve developed some really fast objects. We have incredibly fast planes, ultra-fast fighter jets, super-fast bullet trains and so on. Still, there is one thing in the universe that is faster than anything we can conceive: Light.
Perhaps some of you haven’t thought about this, but many surely have…What would it be like to travel at the speed of light?
What happens when we travel at the speed of light?
Short answer: For one, the person traveling at such a speed would experience a slowing of time. For that person, time would move slower than for someone who is not moving. Another thing is that your field of vision would change drastically. The world would appear to you through a tunnel-shaped window in front of the aircraft in which you are traveling.
Let’s study this exciting idea in more detail…
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
Before the 1900s, the world firmly believed in the view of Isaac Newton in terms of objects and gravity. However, in the 20th century, Albert Einstein came into the picture and changed this world forever.
The Theory of Relativity put forth by Einstein cleared up many doubts about mass and energy. The equation of mass-energy equivalence proved that mass and energy are inter-convertible, meaning that mass can be converted into energy and vice-versa. He proposed that there is no standard frame of reference. Everything is relative – even time. From this, it was inferred that the speed of light is constant and independent of the observer. Therefore, if a person is moving at half the speed of light in the same direction as light itself, then the light beam will appear the same as it does to a stationary individual.
What Does Mass-Energy Equivalence Mean?
It means that if an object moves at a velocity that is 10% of the speed of light, then it would experience an increase in its mass by 0.5% of its original mass. On the other hand, if an object traveled at 90% of the speed of light, then its mass would be 2 times its original mass.
Can we travel at the speed of light?
No, we cannot travel at the speed of light.
You see, if an object travels at the speed of light, its mass will increase exponentially! Consider this… the speed of light is 300,000 kilometers per second (186,000 miles per second) and when an object moves at this speed, its mass will become infinite. Therefore, infinite energy will be required to move the object, which is impractical.
That’s the reason why no object can move at the speed or faster than the speed of light.
What if you moved almost as fast as the speed of light?
If we’re talking about going almost as fast as the speed of light, say 90% of the speed of light, then there would be interesting observations.
Traveling at the speed of light (almost)
For one, the person traveling at such a speed would experience a slowing of time. For that person, time would move slower than for someone who is not moving. For example, if a person is traveling at 90% of the speed of light, then that person would experience only 10 minutes of time passing, while a stationary person would have experienced 20 minutes. Time will be cut in half!
Another thing is that your field of vision would change drastically. The world would appear to you through a tunnel-shaped window in front of the aircraft in which you are traveling. Also, the stars in front would appear blue and the stars behind you would appear red. This is because light waves from stars in front of you will crowd together, making the objects appear blue, while the light waves from stars behind you will spread apart and appear red, causing an extreme Doppler Effect.
After a certain speed, you would only see blackness because the wavelength of the light entering your eyes would be out of the visible spectrum.
Even with all the impracticalities and obstacles to traveling at the speed of light, it would certainly be the experience of a lifetime.