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The Elements of Relativity$
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David M. Wittman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658633

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199658633.001.0001

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The Speed of Light

The Speed of Light

Chapter:
(p.43) 5 The Speed of Light
Source:
The Elements of Relativity
Author(s):

David M. Wittman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199658633.003.0005

You have probably heard that nothing can go faster than the speed of light. In this chapter, we will see that the speed of light is even more remarkable: it is the same in all frames. From this surprising fact, we will deduce that this speed must also serve as a limit and that Galilean velocity addition fails to describe how nature works at high speeds: our first glimpses of the modern understanding of relativity. To make you more comfortable with the fact that velocities must add nonlinearly, this chapter develops an intuitive conceptual analogy for velocity addition.

Keywords:   speed of light, velocity addition, special relativity, invariance

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