Faith, it has been said, is believing something even when you know it doesn't make sense. I've made the mistake of voicing my opinions on modern physics in various fora, and been argued with in tones ranging from kindly condescension to exasperated dismissal by a great number of intelligent and clear-headed people. I know I'm wrong. At least, I know that, according to current scientific thinking, I'm wrong. Luckily for me, current scientific thinking is subject to change without notice...
Relativity has never made an awful lot of sense to me. I didn't get far enough in physics at school to have to tussle with it, but I've been reading sf since I were a nipper, and you'd think I'd understand it by now. Sadly, this is not the case. It seems to start out by saying that all motion in the universe is relative, and then go on to say that light has a constant, and therefore absolute, speed. This to me is a contradiction: if light has a constant speed, then there must be something at absolute rest relative to which that speed is constant. Can't be us: we're zipping about all over the place in several directions and at a variety of speeds. Logic, or at least my logic, tells me that if the same light hits something moving towards it at ten thousand miles an hour and something moving away from it at ten thousand miles an hour at exactly the same speed, not roughly but exactly, then there is something wrong somewhere. Most people seem to think it's me. I disagree.
Various experiments have been reported as supporting the theory of relativity. A man standing beside a railway line watches a man on a moving train drop a rock. The bystander sees it fall straight: the passenger sees it fall in a curve. Whose viewpoint is correct? Obviously, the rock's. Two clocks are set going at exactly the same moment: one goes up in a spaceship and the other stays on earth. When the spaceship lands the clocks show a different time. This to me says something very important about clocks, and nothing at all about time. Can you see how my confusion arose?
But this whole thing would be quite irrelevant to me but for one thing. This limiting velocity of light bugs me. I find it amazing that people who adamantly maintain that the universe is not run by a deity can happily accept that it has a speed limit. I can't see any reason why such a thing should exist. And "Well it does, so there" is not for me a satisfactory answer. They wouldn't accept it about God, or Goddess. (Further note: I recently watched a documentary casting doubt on the theories represented as being Einstein's, in which several prominent scientists agonised at length about the fact that they couldn't find a reason why the universe was still here and comparatively stable. One of them did actually mention "divine intervention", but only as something that they couldn't possibly even consider admitting to... The documentary, in the nature of such things, didn't come to any conclusions or tell me anything solid, but the matter does seem to be less cut-and-dried than my scientific advisers have made it seem, which is fine by me.)
I firmly believe that some day we'll send a probe out beyond the limits of the solar system that we can actually keep communicating with. We'll put some relativity-based experiments on it, and run them, and to our great surprise we'll find that the limiting velocity of light only functions within a certain distance from the centre of gravity of a star. (Hey, if it can exist for no reason, it can be a localised phenomenon for no reason, right?) And then the starships will be commissioned, and built and crewed, and at last, slowly at first, and then faster as we find ways to short-circuit the distances and whiz around at multiples and powers of light, we'll start to GET somewhere.
I won't see it...but maybe your children will. That's what I believe, anyway.
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