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Question:
I am not sure if physics is the right topic to put this under but it seemed appropriate. Einstein stated that if an object that produces energy or light is traveling towards you at the speed of light, you will be instantly vaporized by an infinite amount of energy. A few questions pop up I'm my mind when I say this. First of all, Does only the space directly in the path of the moving object become vaporized? If light travels -ls at the speed of light why are not we vaporized every time we turn on a lamp. Why even think of this if nothing can go that fast? If you go faster than light are you, in theory, going faster than time? I hope you can answer these to the best of your ability. I am thinking of becoming an engineer at Argonne. Thank You.



Replies:
1. According to our present understanding, it is not possible to move faster than the speed of light.
2. If you are moving very - very fast, almost at the speed of light, then strange things will happen. One of these is that if you switch on a lamp, which according to you emits light in all directions uniformly then it will appear to be emitting mostly along the direction of your motion ! Also, to an object or observer sitting quitely in your path, the light will appear as x-rays if you are moving fast enough - this happens because of something called the doppler effect, or rather this is a special case of doppler effect. The fact that the lamp appears to radiate mainly in the direction of motion is called relativistic beaming.

So now if you want to kill a guy, all you have to do is to run towards him at a fast speed and switch on a lamp ! But this will work only if you are moving at .999999 times the velocity of light and that is very hard to do. I hope this is what you were looking for.

Jasjeet



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