Friday, December 08, 2006

The Propagation of Light

It cuts like a knife too.

There is hardly a simpler law in physics than that according to which light is propagated in empty space. Every child at school knows, or believes he knows, that this propagation takes place in straight lines with a velocity c=300,000 km./sec…

In short, let us assume that the simple law of the constancy of the velocity of light c (in vacuum) is justifiably believed by the child at school. Who would imagine that this simple law has plunged the conscientiously thoughtful physicist into the greatest intellectual difficulties? Let us consider how these difficulties arise.

Relativity: the special and the general theory, Albert Einstein

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