Much as I applaud T.R. Stratton's analogy because it really helps,
it also raises the problem of what the rope itself is analogous to,
and the answer to that involves a word that it is no longer polite to
mention in academic company.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Diana Manister 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2007 9:30 AM
  Subject: Re: Warning//Quantum Mechanics/ /way off topic

  Many thanks for that, T.R. ! The analogy of the wave in a rope makes a difficult concept easily understood. But how is it that we are always moving at the speed of light? I thought only photons could do that. Diana


    From:  "T. R. Stratton" <[log in to unmask]>
    Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
    To:  [log in to unmask]
    Subject:  Re: Warning//Quantum Mechanics/ /way off topic
    Date:  Thu, 26 Jul 2007 09:33:56 -0700
    Most people would say that special relativity prohibits us from
    travelling at the speed of light, for, as you stated, time ceases to
    move when you are moving through psace at the speed of light.  But, in
    reality, you are always moving at the speed of light.  The question is
    whether you are moving through space, time, or (much more commonly)
    through some combination of the two.  Simply put, the (squared) sum of
    your speeds through space and time is always equal to the speed of
    light.  I have always preferred this way of thinking about special

    I highly recommend Relativity Visualized by Lewis Carroll Epstein for
    an explanation of special and general relativity.

    Also, the equation Richard cited, E=mc2, referrs to a particles _rest_
    energy.  Particles in motion follow a different equation, which
    utilizes momentum.  Photons are particles with momentum but not mass,
    if they stop moving, they disappear.  The momentum is determined by
    frequency and velocity.  In this sense photons are like waves in a
    rope, they don't have mass per se, but they can carry energy.  This is
    probably a pretty weak analogy but the best I can think of getting
    ready for work.

    T.R. Stratton, A.B. Physics

    T.R. Stratton
    [log in to unmask]

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