For my independent studies project, I first chose to research the speed of light because I was interested in why is it the fastest thing in the world and what it was. Later on as I was researching I found that there were lots of connection between the speed of light and the theory of relativity so I changed my general topic to Light and Relativity. I had a few essential questions that drove my research on and on top is my presentation.
Who calculated the speed of light and how?
At first Galileo had the idea of measuring the speed of light but his experiment was to simple and the technology was not advanced enough to calculate the speed of light. Throughout the next 300 years there were many other scientists who tried to calculate the speed of light and in 1983 October 21, 299,792.458 km/second is the adopted value for the speed of light.
What are photons?
Photons is what light consists of and how we can see light. Photons shows both particle as well as wave characteristics. They have 0 rest mass and they can travel at the speed of light.
How can we see light?
There is a wide range of wave lengths and the only range that the human eye can see is from about 400nm to 700nm. The rest we cannot see.
Why can’t there be anything faster than the speed of light?
Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light because as something reaches the speed of light, its mass increases and it's harder to move a heavier object and as you approach the speed of light, the mass would approach infinity and the energy required to move that object would be infinite. But that's not possible and thus it is impossible to get something traveling faster than the speed of light.
What is the theory of relativity?
In 1905 Einstein came up with the special theory of relativity and 10 years later in 1915 he came up with the general theory of relativity. In which he stated that mass distorts spacetime which is felt as gravity.
What is length contraction and time dilation?
As you reach the speed of light length contracts and time moves slower until you reach the speed of light, time altogether stops.
How does gravity affect light?
Since mass distorts spacetime and that is felt as gravity, light has to follow the warp a bit and will lean a bit towards the mass. Thus the light will curve a bit when it is nearing a massive object.
Does a black hole affect light?
A black hole has a lot of mass and its gravity is very strong. Within the event horizon of a black hole, the escape velocity is equal to the speed of light. So when light is within the event horizon, since nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, nothing even light itself cannot escape from a black hole.
After all of this research, I feel like I've learned a lot more about the theory of relativity which will be important in future studies. I am very proud that I mastered the ideas and concepts and created a presentation that included a lot more than what I set out to do. I still have more questions about the topic and I'm sure I will research and learn about it in the future.