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Celerity, the power of light

The speed of light, a dazzling universal constant that transcends the boundaries of time and space, is one of the fundamental pillars of our understanding of the universe.



Since Albert Einstein postulated his theory of special relativity at the beginning of the 20th century, this constant, symbolized by the letter "c", has taken a central place in our scientific calculations, particularly in the aerospace field.

Far from being a simple numerical value, the speed of light is a stunning concept that defies human intuition, and its influence extends over time. extends far beyond terrestrial limits, guiding our interplanetary and interstellar explorations.



In this article, let's dive into the fascinating world of the speed of light, exploring its crucial importance in our contemporary aerospace calculations and discovering how this captivating notion expands our understanding of the universe .



  • Special Relativity:


At the heart of the scientific revolution initiated by Einstein, the special theory of relativity revealed that the speed of light is a constant unalterabledefying all conventional expectations. This discovery reshaped our perception of time and space, establishing an indissoluble link between them.



As mentioned in a other article, relativistic effects, such as time dilation, become essential in aerospace calculations at significant speeds of the light. Thus, to understand high-speed movements or intense gravitational fields, special relativity stands out as an essential guide.



  • Space Exploration:



In the modern era of space exploration, the speed of light stands as an inescapable barrier. The colossal distances between planets and stars make interstellar travel impractical with current technologies. Space probes, although fast in our terrestrial context, seem almost immobile on a cosmic scale. Data transmitted from Mars, for example, would take several minutes to reach Earth. This inherent constraint dictates our space exploration strategies, stimulating the search for innovative solutions to overcome this fundamental limitation.



If the Sun exploded, we wouldn't see it until several minutes later:

Let's start with a simple relationship: v=d/t where v : speed (m/s); d: distance (m); t: time (dry)

d is therefore the Earth-Sun distance (149 million km) and v is the speed of light (3.00.108 m/ s)

So we have t=d/v

t=149.000.000.103/3,00.108

t≈497 seconds

t≈8 minutes!

So if the Sun exploded, we would only see it 8 minutesafter!



  • To Infinity and Beyond:


The speed of light is not just an obstacle, but also aninvitation to imagination. The concepts of time travel, space-time warping and interstellar exploration push the boundaries of possibility.Relativistic drives, hypothetical wormholes and others Emerging concepts offer fascinating prospects for a future where humanity could possibly explore distant star systems. Scientific advances continue to push the boundaries of our understanding, suggesting that the intrigue surrounding the speed of light has yet to reveal all of its mysteries.


What is VERY interesting about the speed of light is precisely its speed :)

→ we saw that the “light” of the Sun’s explosion would only reach us 8 minutes after the moment of its explosion…

Reciprocally, this means that we let us constantly see the Sun in the past, as it was 8 minutes ago.

Let's go further, if we managed to install a mirror on the Sun, so that when we look at it, we can see the reflection of Earth. We would see the Earth as it was 16 minutes in the past!

By increasing the distance of this mirror tenfold, let's say 1 light year, we would see the Earth as it was 2 years ago … By strongly pushing back our current capabilities, this phenomenon would allow us to observe the Earth during the last century, even during the Jurassic period! Now imagine installing a mirror at such a distance that we could observe the birth of our Blue planet, pretty cool right? ;)



In conclusion, the speed of light, much more than a simple physical constant, shapes the landscape of our understanding of the cosmos. From practical aerospace calculations to daydreams of interstellar travel, this astonishing notion guides our explorations and drives our never-ending quest for understanding. So, let's delve into the shimmering darkness of the universe, where speed light illuminates the path to unexplored horizons.


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Photo credit:

DALL-E - Spaceship through space

WiX and Unsplash

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