As former NHL goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov once put it so illustriously, “the Solar System is so humongous big.” He’s right, you know. Our Solar System is massive. The size of the cosmos in general, though? Unfathomable.
Today we have a video from Alphonse Swinehart that explores a single spec in our universe as an observer watching the journey of light from our sun to Jupiter. Light is fast, moving at 299,792,458 meters per second. When you place that speed against the spread of space, it starts to become relatively slow.
The clip from Swinehart perfectly expresses that fact by covering the distance from the sun to Jupiter as we observe the speed of light. In real time, it takes light 43 minutes to reach Jupiter. Swinehart’s clip moves just beyond the Solar System’s largest planet and checks in at 45 minutes.
Now, I’m certainly nothing more than a casual observer when it comes to the science and study of space and physics. In my limited understanding, though, I believe the notion that this video shows the speed of light from its own perspective is false. As I understand it, an actual photon wouldn’t detect this 43 minute journey the way stationary onlookers like us would. It would be nearly instantaneous for the photon.
Am I wrong on that one, physics majors/graduates?
Our own Sean Aune and I were sort of blown away by this video. He offered that it’s sort of crazy how slow light actually is. My counter, of course, is that the speed of light is fast, it’s just that the universe is that big. Here’s Mr. Ilya Bryzgalov.