There are a lot of odd characteristics of existing spacetime physics, creating a lot of questions that are difficult or impossible to answer, such as, “Why is the speed of light approximately 300,000 km/s?” or “Why can’t you go faster than the speed of light?” or “Is there such a thing as a tachyon?” Or, “If you can’t go faster than the speed of light, how is it possible to age only 4 months due to time dilation while traveling 4 light years?” I hope to offer an alternate geometry to provide some reasonable answers to these questions.

Let’s start with some fundamental concepts about photons. It’s generally believed that photons are their own antiparticles, and also that the speed of light is the ultimate speed past which nothing can travel. Also, in a photon’s frame of reference, the distance from source to destination appears to be zero, and it takes zero time to travel that distance. This led me to speculate that light might, in fact, travel at an infinite speed, and that somewhere out there, there is a geometry in 4D space-time where that makes sense, where, when we try to measure it, we see light ambling along at a tedious 300,000 km/s. It would also explain why you can’t travel faster than the speed of light; the speed is, in fact, infinite. It’s really hard to go faster than that. The difficulty lies in finding that geometry. My second supposition regarding photons is that they are always emitted perpendicular to the path of travel (through time) of the originating particle. In a standard space-time diagram, assuming a velocity of c, this leads to the light cone diagram. In the new geometry, assuming an infinite photon speed, the picture is a little different, but still leads to the well-known equations we are used to.

Looking at Figure 1, the vertical line A represents the source of photons a and b, which travel instantaneously to the observer on line B. Line B observes the two events a and b separated by time ct_{2}, and from B’s perspective, the object has moved away a distance x, which equals a-b. In A’s proper time, the time between the two events is merely c time t, and the distance is zero, so the interval is s=ct_{1}. From B’s proper time, the duration is ct_{2} and the distance A has traveled away from him is x, so the measured interval between the two events is s=√(ct_{2}^{2}-x^{2}), which should be familiar to everyone.

In Figure 2, we see what happens as B gets closer to the X axis. But it still produces the common formula for the interval. What the diagram does not explain is why the speed of light appears to be roughly 300,000 km/s.

However, what Figure 1 can do is allow us to derive the standard time dilation formula:

∆t_{1}=∆t_{2}/√(1-v^{2}/c^{2})

How do we get there?

Note the velocity of B away from A is

v=x/t_{2}

_{ }So x^{2}=(vt_{2})^{2}

From before, we had s=ct_{1} in A’s reference frame and s=√(ct_{2}^{2}-x^{2}) from B’s perspective. Set the two equations equal, and we get

(ct_{1})^{2}=(ct_{2})^{2}-x^{2}

Substituting for x^{2} we get

(ct_{1})^{2}=(ct_{2})^{2}-(vt_{2})^{2}

^{ }Divide it all by c^{2} and pull the t_{2} out of the two terms on the right gives us

(t_{1})^{2}=(t_{2})^{2}•(1-v^{2}/c^{2})

Or, ∆t_{1}=∆t_{2}•√(1-v^{2}/c^{2}), which should be familiar to a lot of you out there. It’s the standard formula for time dilation due to relative velocity.

So Figure 1 works out that if the line is at a 45 degree angle, then v=c/√2, which shouldn’t be a surprise. And as v gets closer and closer to c, then the graph gets flatter and flatter. But this graph is based on the idea that c is infinite. Why is it that when we measure it, it’s always 300,000 km/s? Clearly, if you set up an experiment that bounces light back and forth between mountain tops, and c=∞, then your test should show that light moves instantaneously. Not 300,000 km/s. And yet, we always measure c at the same boring 300,000 km/s (yeah, I know this isn’t exact value-it’s 299792.458 km/s. Get over it-this is easier to type).

So what is it that makes an infinitely fast photon measure as a finite number in all frames of reference? Is it the expansion of spacetime? Is it the curvature of spacetime due to gravity affecting the value of c that we measure? Is it that this theory is just wrong? I don’t know yet – this would obviously have to be resolved before this model made any sense, and may or may not appear in a later entry. Any speculations about this are welcome.

Tags: astronomy, gravity, Physics, science, Spacetime, speed of light

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