- Einstein’s Theory of Relativity explained why light travels at a constant speed.
- João Magueijo and Niayesh Afshordi of Perimeter Institute, has a different theory that may challenge modern Physics.
Science exists to shatter previously held beliefs about the universe and not even the venerated Albert Einstein is immune to this fact. Physicists now plan to test a theory regarding the speed of light to explain something that the Theory of Relativity can’t.
While change is constant, some constants in the universe are immune to change. One of these is the speed of light, a value that cannot change under any circumstances or conditions.
Albert Einstein explained why light must travel at a constant speed.
Even before Einstein, scientists found ways to measure the speed of light and have always arrived at the same number. 299,792,458 meters per second is the number, however, it was not until 1970 that they reached this level of precision. And it was not until Albert Einstein developed his theory of relativity that physicists knew the reason why.
It is a fact that light can travel both as electromagnetic waves and as particles, also known as photons. According to Einstein’s theory, if something could travel faster than the speed of light, it would break fundamental physical laws by being able to observe, relatively speaking, a stationary electromagnetic wave.
But for his Theory of Relativity to work, the speed of light must remain constant. Since then, Einstein’s theory had been proven time and again by his peers even more than half a century after his death.
João Magueijo’s Theory Must Disregard Einstein’s Theory To Work
In 1998, João Magueijo of the Imperial College in London sought to challenge the theory with a question . Now, Magueijo and Afshordi proposed that to solve one of Physics’ biggest problems the idea of the speed of light being constant should be abandoned.
The problem Magueijo is talking about is called the “horizon problem.” In a nutshell, the horizon problem states that the universe reached a uniform temperature long before energy-carrying photons could reach every corner of it.
The most popular explanation for the horizon problem involves a phenomenon called “inflation”. The inflation theory states that after the Big Bang, the temperature of the infant universe evened out before it began its expansion.
However, this theory is not widely accepted by physicists. It cannot provide an explanation why inflation began and why it began in the first place. This flaw prompted Magueijo’s search for an alternative explanation leading him to question the speed of light.
But to simply abandon one of the cornerstones of Physics may be considered foolhardy without having a testable hypothesis. For now, Magueijo’s theory sits at the fringes of mainstream physics.
Nevertheless, Einstein himself was considered an outsider during his early life. This was before the scientific community recognized him as one of the greatest minds of our time. It would be nothing short of poetic for his legacy to be disproved by another outsider shunned by mainstream science.
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— Science Channel (@ScienceChannel) November 24, 2016
Today I'll be teaching about the expansion of the Universe and the limits of observation. I wrote about it here: https://t.co/gJI9gCMudm
— Katie Mack (@AstroKatie) November 29, 2016