Thought Experiments


A Brief History of the Speed of Light

One night over drinks at a conference in San Jose, Miles Padgett, a physicist at Glasgow University in Scotland, was chatting with a colleague about whether or not they could make light go slower than its “lawful” speed in a vacuum. “It’s just one of those big, fundamental questions you may want to ask yourself at some point in the pub one night,” he told BBC News. Though light slows down when it passes through a medium, like water or air, the speed of light in a vacuum is usually regarded as an absolute.

Image: Flickr user Steve Oldham, adapted under a Creative Commons license.

This time, the pub talk proved to be a particularly fruitful exchange. Last month, Padgett and his collaborators made headlines when they revealed their surprising success: They raced two photons down a one-meter “track” and managed to slow one down just enough that it finished a few millionths of a meter behind its partner. The experiment showed that it is possible for light to travel at a slower speed even in free space—and Padgett and his colleagues did it at the scale of individual photons.

The notion that light has a particular speed, and that that speed is measurable, is relatively new. Prior to the 17th century, most natural philosophers assumed light traveled instantaneously. Galileo was one of the first to test this notion, which he did with the help of an assistant and two shuttered lanterns. First, Galileo would lift the shutter on his lantern. When his assistant, standing some distance away, saw that light, he would lift the shutter on his lantern in response. Galileo then timed how long it took for him to see the return signal from his assistant’s lantern, most likely using a water clock, or possibly his pulse. “If not instantaneous, it is extraordinarily rapid,” Galileo concluded, estimating that light travels at about ten times the speed of sound.

Over the ensuing centuries, many other scientists improved upon Galileo’s work by devising ingenious new methods for measuring the speed of light. Their results fell between 200,000 kilometers per second, recorded in 1675 by Ole Roemer, who made his measurement by studying eclipse patterns in Jupiter’s moons, and 313,000 kilometers per second, recorded in 1849 by Hippolyte Louis Fizeau, who sent light through a rotating tooth wheel and then reflected it back with a mirror. The current accepted value is 299,792.458 kilometers per second, or 669,600,000 miles per hour. Physicists represent this value with the constant c, and it is broadly understood to be the cosmic speed limit: all observers, no matter how fast they are going, will agree on it, and nothing can go faster.

This limit refers to the speed of light in a vacuum—empty space, with no “stuff” in it with which light can interact. Light traveling through air, water, or glass, for example, will move more slowly as it interacts with the atoms in that substance. In some cases, light will move so slowly that other particles shoot past it. This can create Cherenkov radiation, a “photonic boom” shockwave that can be seen as a flash of blue light. That telltale blue glow is common in certain types of nuclear reactors. (Doctor Manhattan, the ill-fated atomic scientist in Alan Moore’s classic “Watchmen” graphic novel, sports a Cherenkov-blue hue.) It is useful for radiation therapy and the detection of high-energy particles such as neutrinos and cosmic rays—and perhaps one day, dark matter particles—none of which would be possible without the ability of certain materials to slow down light.

But just how slow can light go? In his 1933 novel “Master of Light,” French science fiction writer Maurice Renard imagined a special kind of “slow glass” through which light would take 100 years to pass. Slow glass is very much the stuff of fiction, but it has an intriguing real-world parallel in an exotic form of matter known as a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC), which exploits the wave nature of matter to stop light completely. At normal temperatures atoms behave a lot like billiard balls, bouncing off one another and any containing walls. The lower the temperature, the slower they go. At billionths of a degree above absolute zero, if the atoms are densely packed enough, the matter waves associated with each atom will be able to “sense” one another and coordinate themselves as if they were one big “superatom.”

First predicted in the 1920s by Albert Einstein and the Indian physicist Satyendra Bose, BEC wasn’t achieved in the lab until 1995. The Nobel Prize winning research quickly launched an entirely new branch of physics, and in 1999, a group of Harvard physicists realized they could slow light all the way down to 17 miles per hour by passing it through a BEC made of ultracold sodium atoms. Within two years, the same group succeeded in stopping light completely in a BEC of rubidium atoms.

What was so special about the recent Glasgow experiments, then? Usually, once light exits a medium and enters a vacuum, it speeds right back up again, because the reduced velocity is due to changes in what’s known as phase velocity. Phase velocity tracks the motion of a particular point, like a peak or trough, in a light wave, and it is related to a material’s refractive index, which determines just how much that material will slow down light.

Padgett and his team found a way to keep the brakes on in their experiment by focusing on a property of light known as group velocity. Padgett likens the effect to a subatomic bicycle race, in which the photons are like riders grouped together in a peloton (light beam). As a group, they appear to be moving together at a constant speed. In reality, some individual riders slow down, while others speed up. The difference, he explained to BBC News, is that instead of using a light pulse made up of many photons, “We measure the speed of a single photon as it propagates, and we find it’s actually being slowed below the speed of light.”

The Glasgow researchers used a special liquid crystal mask to impose a pattern on one of two photons in a pair. Because light can act like both a particle and a wave—the famous wave-particle duality—the researchers could use the mask to reshape the wavefront of that photon, so instead of spreading out like an ocean wave traveling to the shore, it was focused onto a point. That change in shape corresponded to a slight decrease in speed. To the researchers’ surprise, the light continued to travel at the slightly slower speed even after leaving the confines of the mask. Because the two photons were produced simultaneously from the same light source, they should have crossed the finish line simultaneously; instead, the reshaped photon lagged just a few millionths of a meter behind its partner, evidence that it continued to travel at the slower speed even after passing through the medium of the mask.

Padgett and his colleagues are still pondering the next step in this intriguing line of research. One possibility is looking for a similar slow-down in light randomly scattered off a rough surface.

If so, it would be one more bit of evidence that the speed of light, so often touted as an unvarying fundamental constant, is more malleable than physicists previously thought. University of Rochester physicist Robert Boyd, while impressed with the group’s ingenuity and technical achievement, calmly took the news in stride. “I’m not surprised the effect exists,” he told Science News. “But it’s surprising that the effect is so large and robust.”

His nonchalance might strike non-physicists as strange: Shouldn’t this be momentous news poised to revolutionize physics? As always, there are caveats. When it comes to matters of light speed, it’s important to read the fine print. In this case, one must be careful not to confuse the speed at which light travels, which is just a feature of light, with its central role in special relativity, which holds that the speed of light is constant in all frames of reference. If Galileo measures the speed of light, he gets the same answer whether he is lounging at home in Pisa or cruising in a horse-drawn carriage. The same goes for his trusty assistant. This still holds true, centuries later, despite the exciting news out of Glasgow last month.

Go Deeper
Our picks for further reading

arXiv: Photons that travel in free space slower than the speed of light
Access a full preprint of Padgett and his colleagues’ paper, later published in Science.

Empire of Light: A History of Discovery in Science and Art
Sidney Perkowitz, a condensed matter physicist, looks at the history of our understanding of light in both art and science.

International Year of Light
The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light (IYL 2015). Discover more about the science, technology, and social impact of light at the web site of the IYL.

NOVA: Ultracold Atoms
Take a closer look at Bose Einstein condensates in this Q&A with physicist Luis Orozco.

Tell us what you think on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Jennifer Ouellette

    Jennifer Ouellette is the author of four popular science books, most recently Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self (2014). She maintains a blog called Cocktail Party Physics at Scientific American, featuring her avatar altar-ego/evil twin, Jen-Luc Piquant – also her Twitter handle. Ouellette is a co-host for Virtually Speaking Science, a weekly conversation with a prominent scientist or science writer hosted by the Exploratorium in Second Life and aired as a podcast by Blog Talk Radio. She holds a black belt in jujitsu, and lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, Caltech physicist Sean (M.) Carroll.

    • garyrlooney

      The Universe- Larities of Time Gary Looney. Australia

    • King BooFoo

      Mind. Blown.

    • Earl Zettlemayer

      So uh if light is refractive in water and slows down . Then . I guess the actually interesting thing here is that it slowed down you’d think without interaction it would have sped up so . what could or does light interact with to speed it up or why would we even need this . as light is already pretty effing fast .

    • Donald Gracia

      I hate to break everyone’s bubble but…the begging question isn’t why rest mass cannot move beyond the speed of light. In fact the Lorentz transform pretty much describes the why. The stretching of a manifold as a result of motion is actually an artifact of geometry! Why rest mass cannot move beyond c has to do with the means as to how a force carrier can convey momentum. You see electric fields that can convey a force through like polarity do so using a photon that moves at c. So if you try to push something, with say a rocket engine, that push is done through electric fields. Now as a body is pushed towards the speed of light the path the force carrier takes to convey force to the resting mass elongates very dramatically, lowering the rate of acceleration, no differently than any other effect due to time dilation or the warping of space. Ultimately reaching c is impossible since the force carrier will never reach its destination if it did reach c!

      Now why photons move at c has to do with the notion of a quantum particle where its mass or energy = its frequency multiplied by the “Planck constant” , where wavelength and frequency equate to c; frequency v = c/wavelength or c = v*wavelength. Both wavelength and frequency are a constant for any given particle, so c is derived effectively from the mass of a particle…

      • Donald Gracia

        Just wanted to add that the frequency and wavelength for any particle is fixed given a particular mass, but a particle can loose or gain mass and therefore modify its wavelength or frequency.

      • You must work for the government, trying to find stuff out! Lol All things are possible with God. Remember that, sir.

    • ben cruz

      I find the experiment by Miles Padgett and his colleagues about the speed of light very enlightening.

      • John Johnson

        Good one.

    • Guys! You’re really putting a damper in my Interstellar Propulsion, Space Ship project here! I’m trying to get funding, hello. And it involves moving masses many times the speed of light. Look, fellows, and that other species who probably has all the money anyhow. Let’s get off of this old timer’s physics’ lack of knowledge about their common understanding of light, and into the new. Okay, hey, how about that? You know, try to be a little more open minded. It’s obvious there’s a genius deficiency here on PBS. Lol.

    • Jesse

      I am so sick and tired of this…why do they always have to prove previous scientists wrong? Before, light was supposed to be a universal constant, now it’s not. Before, the universe started with a big bang, now they say there was no beginning. Before, there were black holes and recently someone said there is no such thing as a black hole.

      You scientists, stop changing your mind so often…you are making my head spin, I don’t know what to believe anymore.

      Oh what about the multiverse? I guess we can kiss that one good bye as well.

      Okay…how about, lets just not make absolute comments about anything, because they will be proven wrong by someone else anyway.

      From now on when you come to some conclusion, just say…”it looks like, but yet to be proven with certainty”.

      • SP

        This is the nature of research. As we learn more about our universe, old theories must be revisited and compared to new data. Being flexible with our understanding is what makes science progress, so don’t cling too dearly to any particular explanations.

      • Mongo

        You think this is bad you ought to see biology, “This’ll kill you, give you cancer.” 1 year later, “No it won’t.” One week later,”Yes it will.” Then, “No it won’t. Yes it will. No. Yes. No. Yes… ad infinitum.” Drives you nuts.

    • Jesse

      One thing confuses me so much, among other things, is this. Photons travel at the speed of light, and yet if you break it down further, it doesn’t make sense.
      We’ve been told that mass is energy and vice versa.
      Is light energy?
      If the light is emitted from an energy source, such as the sun? Does they photon carry energy that reaches earth from which we receive heat? If heat is what we feel from the photon that came from the sun, isn’t that energy? Is energy not mass? Why is the photon traveling at this speed?

      I’m just confused!

      • Clinton Weir

        Yes, light is energy. The energy in an individual photon is entirely determined by its wavelength (E = hc/λ, where h is Planck’s constant, c is the speed of light and λ is the wavelength of the photon).

        Nearly all of the energy that is used by life on Earth, including all the energy we use as humans, comes from the sun in the form of photons. One possible exception is geothermal energy, but solar, wind, fossil fuels, etc, all trace their origins to photons.

        You might wonder how it is that a photon can have energy when it is considered a massless particle, but by “massless” we mean it has no rest mass.

        Incidentally, the kinetic energy of any particle is given by (gamma-1)*mc^2, where gamma is q/sqrt(1-v^2/c^2) and m is rest mass. In the case of a photon, v=c and m=0, so gamma=infinity, gamma-1 = infinity and infinity * 0 is indeterminate (it could be anything).

        • ProbingOmega

          Tom Van Flandern explains the speed of light this way.

          “In our latest publication about the ‘speed of gravity’ [‘Experimental Repeal of the Speed Limit for Gravitational, Electrodynamic, and Quantum Field Interactions’, T. Van Flandern and J.P. Vigier, Found.Phys. 32(#7), 1031-1068 (2002)], we show that there is no need to ‘get around’ special relativity (SR) because that theory is now falsified in favor of Lorentzian relativity (LR) … this means the universe has no speed limit.

          “The closest approximation online is the preprint ‘The speed of gravity – Repeal of the speed limit’ at

          “Physics has recognized for the past two decades that rest masses of moving bodies do not change. The apparent increase in inertia can as easily be explained as the problem that forces propagating at a speed s in some rest frame cannot possibly propel any mass faster than s, the speed of the force. Because electromagnetic forces are, quite naturally, limited by the speed of light c, so is the resultant speed they can induce (s c), and therefore would have no problem in principle propelling bodies faster than light in forward time. (Time reversal is a feature of SR, not LR, and therefore does not come into play.)

          “In short, the ‘universal speed limit’ has been repealed.”

    • John Smith

      If light is slowed down when passing through a medium, then presumably the only conditions under which light actually travels at the speed of light is in an absolute vacuum.

      But isn’t it true that there is no absolute vacuum in the universe? Even in the great voids between galaxies the vacuum is not complete and absolute. In which case the theoretical speed limit is not the actual speed limit.

      Is this true? And if so does it have any implications

    • Jesse

      Here is something else that is confusing, why are black holes called black holes? “Black hole” seems to me a misnomer, wouldn’t you say? If you picture a whole, you would think of something starting with a circular shape at the surface continuing down in a cylindrical shape. Instead of this cylindrical shape, wouldn’t it be more like a ring and near the center would be the singularity? How can scientist give this object such a stupid name?

      • The shape is as a disc divided in segments, within the disc there is a torus (dognut shaped ) form , the center is anty-gravitic or we may descript it as singularity were the quantum liquid is projected out of the poles , this quantum liquid is the soup from were all particles surge ( materialize) as black matter ( see black hole pole jets ) this is were creation begins , we can symbolize a black hole as a mammoth , as it grows old its legs are crushed by its own weight ( the final death of matter) were the only signature remaining is the C.H.O.N. Carbon Hydrogen Oxygen Nitrogen (signature) visible in the black hole jets after being reformed on the way out of the maelstrom transform engine , the matter signature is contained at quantum energy level as a hologram the whole (macro) contains the same information as the (micro) the universe is indeed intelligent design , starting with morphogenetic fields and ending with life manifestation , we are on a path of discovery, were denial of the evident may become quite difficult , the universe as a whole is a living evolving organism ! the center of the black hole may be symbolized as the womb of a woman in gestation of a child , this descriptions are like seeds to the mind, this is what Steven Hawking is lacking he denies to see the intelligence beyond the form even in denial of his own form , Formulations are not everything , the vision , sight beyond sight is required to travel beyond the physical limits , that will permit future TRUE men to travel beyond the in-pass ring torus of the so called black holes and see the true cradle of creation , in a sense meet GOD or I may say the “goddess” face to face with no need to ask any further questions .

        WE are here to enjoy life ! 🙂


        • Jesse

          Thanks for the very beautiful description of a black hole. I still refuse to think of it as a “hole”.

        • ProbingOmega

          We’ve never seen a black hole. They most likely exist only in the imaginations of mathematicians. The best candidates are just pixels on film and chips.

    • IN black holes gravity shifts light leaving the hole to radio waves in what is called

      Doppler shift deceleration , universal expansion is an illusion due to this fact , the universe shape is more like a self looped egg shaped hurricane were the observed universe is just strings in the wind …. ARK RESEARCH

    • As an extra note black holes are transform engines , aether flux is a reality , there is were black energy & black mater are found but in fact they are not dark , but on frequency far beyond that of light (superluminal ) C/ √T =m

    • ProbingOmega

      If a photon slows down going through a medium but speeds back up after exiting the medium, then ‘propulsion’ is provided either on board the photon or through an interaction with space.

      However, if the mask induced reduction of speed prevents the photon from accelerating back to light speed in free space, then space can not be the contributor to a photon’s propulsion.

      This leaves the mechanism of propulsion on board the photon. What kind of engine would that be?

    • Light is no longer a constant as frequency relates to speed , Doppler effect , red and blue shift relative to frequency and motion are variables within the inconstancy of light , the only CONSTANTS are the COLOR spectra at a given value of speed (relative) , and frequency (also relative ) True primary colors of light are RYB .
      RED (ORANGE*) YELLOW (GREEN*) BLUE (*) as secondary mix. The laws applicable to SOUND and radio waves are equally applicable to light waves , in this simple context current academia thought is still in the stone age ,Scientists have to return to natural simplicity of music and harmony in order to understand higher science . why?, we still use RGB in our TV and computers is as the why in middle ages earth was theorized to be flat , what religious institution forcing us to use RGB instead of RYB needs to be found in order to put an end to scientific inquisition , the speed of light myth ,as the use of mediocre science to maintain its doctrine needs to be terminated (END)

    • Every force in the universe manifest 2 poles , one positive one negative , gravity gives the illusion to be MONOPOLAR (Single pole ) , but in a simplistic form as the speed of light , the speed imparted to an object by gravity is not a constant but a variable within the FLUX of particles or waves we may call gravitons (For This dissertation) , the density and speed determines the intensity of gravity pull , gravity is the result of energy transformation within the particles , atoms , molecules , planets, suns , galactic clusters & the universe , every particle is alike micro HURRICANE were time space flux flows within 2 dimensional planes , we may say the ELEMENT being drawn in is quantum fluid particles yet in need to be discovered by earth science , but are the resultant evasive element that can unify all current theoretics ( the non flawed ones) to explain the existence of matter, and inter-dimension relation that shows creation to be a holographic project ( simulation) ,

      the moment electron decay ( disintegration) is obtained in a lab (within a particle accelerator ) and its relation in the creation of a resultant gravity wave , the statement within this writings will be understood” Naturally this conclusion will be attained in 500 years , not if we don’t survive the social challenges ahead , in that

      humanity are still apes . (END)

    • Adam Lilien

      Most explanations say in essence the speed of light is what it is because that is its speed. An universal constant. Maybe other universes have a different speeds of light is one explanation.

      A vacuum is not really a vacuum because of the zero point quantum flux that pervades a vacuum with it’s own properties. Photons moving through natural vacuum encounter spontaneous virtual energy events. This creates a kind of resistance to photons. Photons are absorbed and re-emitted by virtual events even while momentum is maintained. These virtual event encounters slow the speed of light through space. The density of virtual events exactly map to the speed of light in a natural vacuum. The speed of the photon is limited by its interaction with the virtual flux.

      If flux density could be reduced by any amount then the speed of light would increase.

      Since zero point flux exists prior to natural events it is everywhere always present so the speed of light is the same everywhere.

      If you could somehow eliminate Zero Point virtual events totally along a photon pathway then the speed of light would become nearly infinite. The things is that nothing we have yet done physically has influenced the rate of virtual events. They are far too quick and transient and small to say the least. They are subatomic in size and exist for exceeding quick periods of time. And these virtual events have different energy and frequency levels. Virtual is incompressible.

      This virtual flux has been going on for an Eternity. This does not mean that human ingenuity cannot use this knowledge to figure out ways to create light traveling at multiples of natural light speed. But we must understand what limits the speed of light.

      The experimenters discussed in this article I believe slowed down the speed of light because they increased slightly the resistance of the photons to the zero point substrate by a geometric alteration of its waveform shape. They made it slightly more likely for the photon to have a virtual field interaction. This is noteworthy because there was no medium involved at all. That means it has to come from another type of interaction.

      This indicates that light is interacting with something while moving through a vacuum

      When one considers the accumulated minuscule energies at all discreet frequencies, directions and polarities passing through even a small volume of space, it has been estimated that the energy density exceeds that of the nucleus of matter by no slight margin. Nobel Laureate, R. Feynman, estimated that there is more than enough energy in a coffee cup to vaporize all the world’s oceans.

      Pervading Natural Vacuum Space is a sustaining energy that literally maintains all the static and steady state forces. This is what photons interact with traveling through a natural vacuum giving us our universal speed of light.

      A natural vacuum means no material, the zero point vacuum includes the flux of virtual events.

      The Zero-Point Field of free space is normally homogeneous and isotropic, which simply means that it is everywhere essentially uniform and moving in all directions simultaneously. The term Zero-Point is derived from the fact that this energy remains as a residual background condition of the Universe even at absolute zero in a perfect vacuum where all conventional thermal radiation has been frozen out.

      The speed of light between fields and space does connect quantum electromagnetics and relativity through the interaction of zero point virtual space and form.

      Every virtual field event interaction slows the photon relative to its frame of reference that is nearly infinite in velocity. Photons are absorbed by the sustaining zero point energies and re emitted as a new no loss of power photon.

      If you reduce interaction with zero point events you increase the velocity of the photon relative to “normal space”.

      This seems like a much better explanation that any I have been able to find for why the velocity of light in a vacuum is the speed that it is.

      In a space with material such as air or glass or water the number of interaction events increase per distance so the speed is less. So the velocity of light is determined by the number of atomic type interactions plus the more subtle virtual event interactions. The density of this determines the speed of light even in a vacuum.

      This has the possibility of testing. Would photons travel faster between two Casimir plates due to a reduction in the virtual density?

      The potential between two casimir plates increase by the 4th power of the distance between them. This means that if you decrease the distance between the two plates by one half you increase the kPa or power differential by 16. Decrease space between the plates by 10 fold then the power increases by 10 X 10 X 10 X 10 or 10,000 times. This is a simple description but accurate. Power becomes pronounced at very small distances.

      Perhaps directly reflecting this power curve is an increase in velocity of the photons traveling through the “virtual event exclusion zone”. If we can reduce virtual events by 1/2 perhaps this increases the speed of the photon by 16, 2 X 2 X 2 X 2. If you can reduce the zero point flux 10 fold you increase the velocity of light 10,000 times.

      It seems highly likely that atoms and subatomic particles are virtual space exclusion zones of extremely high power due to their extremely small size. It is quite likely that the strong force is really a minute Casimir space with nearly incomprehensible differential between the interior and the zero point substrate. This means that seemingly attractive forces are really push from outside. Like gravity. Two materials are not attracted to each other but as pushed together. The Zero Point Flux sustains all matter and forces and ultimately supplies all observable forms of energy.

      A material made up of extremely thin “wave guide plates” that photons travel between at a multiple speed of light. For travel purposes zero point exclusion waveform pathways that light and matter can move through natural space at multiples of natural light velocity.

      Perhaps this is the keystone to interstellar travel.

      This includes all systems from the fundamental particles of matter to the Universal scale. It is, for instance, recognized that a continuous input of energy is required to sustain the forces required to maintain the integrity of the atom. On the macro-scale, it is also recognized that the earth’s gravitational field requires a constant unseen input of sustaining energy in order to maintain the force required to keep the moon in its orbit.

      This new form of action, a vast array of revolutionary technologies are envisioned, which utilize transient, non equilibrium interactions between matter and the seething vacuum to provide clean energy systems that require no material fuel; field effect propulsion systems, requiring no material reaction medium; and low energy induced nuclear reactions, all of which have been reported by independent labs around the world

      A massive, scientific renaissance is consequently in the works involving an all-encompassing reformation of the entire spectrum of science. The ensuing wave of breakthrough technologies within the new field of Quantum Vacuum Engineering, set to occur on the near horizon, is bound to surprise even the most jaded Sci-fi enthusiast, providing all manner of practical solutions to a wide array of pressing global issues

      • ProbingOmega

        That was stimulating, Adam. Rough around the edges, but good thoughts and ideas all the way through.

        You said, “Every virtual field event interaction slows the photon relative to its frame of reference that is nearly infinite in velocity. Photons are absorbed by the sustaining zero point energies and re emitted as a new no loss of power photon.”

        Considering this idea, if photons are ‘absorbed’ by anything and then ‘re emitted,’ are you suggesting that their propulsion is ballistic with the velocity being imparted by the emitter and not by the photon itself?

        • Adam Lilien

          I would say that the velocity of the photon is inherently nearly infinite. It’s velocity is limited by the zero point flux it travels through and interacts with it. I guess this implies that the energy of a photon is inherently nearly infinite and in some manner the extension of the zero point flux constrained by it’s inherent frequency. I would think that it would be possible to substitute in various physics equations using the speed of light some version of the zero point flux density.

          • ProbingOmega

            Adam, you say:

            “… velocity of the photon is inherently nearly infinite. It’s velocity is limited by the zero point flux it travels through and interacts with it … this implies that the energy of a photon is inherently nearly infinite …”

            So you speak of photon energy and velocity. You speak of of the zero point flux that ‘absorbs’ and ‘re emits’ the photon, but you do not speak of the cause of the photon’s propulsion.

            Let’s consider the ‘engine’ of the photon. What propels the photon as it is ‘absorbed’ and ‘re emitted in your thinking?

            The Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) experiments by Lene Hau and her Harvard University team and the Rowland Institute for Science in Cambridge (1, 2) slowed the speed of photons down as they pass through the BEC. The team later stopped light, but the photons resumed the speed of light +/- after exiting the medium.

            The Stop Light Project of Walsworth and Lukin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center
            for Astrophysics have also stopped light to zero velocity.

            The question for me is not how much energy the photon has, but from where does its propulsion come?

            What propels the photon to the speed of light after it exits the BEC or any other medium that temporarily slows it down as it transverses the medium? What is the engine that converts and directs energy into motion and direction for the photon?


            1) “… in 1999, a group of Harvard physicists [Lene Hau Harvard Team] realized they could slow light all the way down to 17 miles per hour by passing it through a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) made of ultracold sodium atoms. Within two years, the same group succeeded in stopping light completely in a BEC of rubidium atoms …”

            2) Physicists Slow Speed of Light, HARVARD GAZETTE ARCHIVES, February 18, 1999

            • Adam Lilien

              The speed of light does does not change at all going through a medium. What changes is how far it travels. Picture two runners who run at exactly the same speed but one travels in a straight line the other has to go around obstacles. Not seeing the the obstacles you would say the second runner runs slower. After the obstacle course is finished, both runners would be moving at the same speed. You can not say that the second runner was somehow propelled at that point.

            • Now with BEC, instead of obstacles there are persons holding the runner
              back (absorbed) when the person lets go of the runner he immediately
              resumes his velocity.

              but on a lower frequency ( red shift ) predictable as (E -√e-)

            • Electron decays in 1 or 2 photons and 2 or 3 vitrons , photon emission can be in the pink or green yellow region depending on energy level upon decay , magnetic field electron interaction can give a blue color decay , some call this energy Oddic light , electrons in hi energy level modulate the quantum liquid into PHOTON waves so necessarily electron is in no need to decay to create photon emission , this is done by energy imparted by electron flux say as in a lamp filament , or photonic resonant cavity , the energy loss is determined by R e- were reversal is expressed as H=I²rt
              In pure resonance such energy loss is theoretically non existent so system becomes self fueled from ambient heat
              say as in ambient temperature super conductor , the amount of energy contained within a photon can run forever , if contained within a quantum stochastic channeling wall to capture such energy ( Photonic quantum reactor )


            • You need to see the macro ( the sun fields tied into magnetic knots ) then bang ! the energy is released as a flare , a photon becomes a knot tie as is static , as it UNFOLDS becomes again from being “entangled” as static particle into free motion wave …

      • ProbingOmega

        I really liked your ideas, Adam.

        You said, “It seems highly likely that atoms and subatomic particles are virtual space exclusion zones of extremely high power due to their extremely small size. It is quite likely that the strong force is really a minute Casimir space with nearly incomprehensible differential between the interior and the zero point substrate. This means that seemingly attractive forces are really push from outside. Like gravity. Two materials are not attracted to each other but as pushed together.”

        Tom Van Flandern also was a strong advocate of the ‘push of gravity.’ He maintained that the speed of gravity far exceeds the speed of light because they are different types of materials / energies with different properties.

        If you are interested, please reference his book, “Dark Matter, Missing Planets and New Comets: Paradoxes Resolved, Origins Illuminated,” and his paper, [‘The speed of gravity – Repeal of the speed limit’ at Meanwhile, I will review Quantum Vacuum Engineering, of which I was not aware.

        Current science still does not know what the electron is, let alone the photon. We have just discovered in the 21st century that the speed of light in free space can be reduced? Amazing. We are only at the beginning of our discoveries. Rockets and internal combustion engines – fire/explosions – are caveman technologies.

        • Seb

          “This means that seemingly attractive forces are really push from outside”.. interesting, as I was thinking the opposite about charged particles. eg. Two negative charges does not repel, but get pulled apart by the more positive charge surround it.

        • electron is made of 4 inner particles VITRONS forming a pyramid shape , this is within an sphere made of chords …. that change according to energy level from 6600 chords to 9900 chords , , chords are made from miriads , some 7700 make a chord , a mirad is formed
          by smaller units so is no use to explain the infinite subdivisions down to punktas “quantum time space vortex units” until we are able to make a lab manual to teach the basic 9 types of electricity flux contained within material existence, Humanity now knows a bit of the first flux called ELEKTRON and a bit of the vitron flux manifested as magnetic flux , yet remain ignorant of the rest .. , to understand the micro science must look into the macro , as the same rules and laws are applicable UNIVERSALLY … gravity is a flux with a basic potential of 300,000 million electron volts ( on Earth), that is why a long wire suspended in air will charge into the electrically negative potential (gravitic pull induced charge ) some 14eV per feet in air ascending up to space , the planed space elevator cannot be made to be conductive as charge differential will melt it completely but this differential can be used to obtain inexhaustible energy using the proper designs . .


        • Adam Lilien

          EM photonic waves are transverse while gravity are longitudinal waves. This means that any relativity factors do not apply to gravity.

          • Hector

            They do apply as any Wave can be shifted from longitudinal to transverse and vice-versa the fact current science fails in this aspects is to the nature of specialization and segmentation of its gathered facts & data . what applies to the macro applies to the micro and what applies to the micro applies to the macro .

      • I think Adam Lilen has been stealing my material my novel Interstellar
        Spacecraft, X137C, commonly known as Photon 137. Have you been stealing
        my stuff Adam, huh?! Lol http://www.interstellarpropuls

        • I think Adam Lilen has been stealing my material my novel Interstellar
          Spacecraft, X137C, commonly known as Photon 137. Have you been stealing
          my stuff Adam, huh?! Lol

        • Adam Lilien

          I never heard of this until now.

      • (Frequency = speed )

      • K Sean Proudler

        Say what?

        If you just keep it simple, and except the idea that all objects constantly move at the speed of light within the 4 dimensions of Space-Time, just as was stated by physicist Brian Greene in his book The Elegant Universe (See The_Elegant_Universe-B.Greene.pdf, “Motion Through Space-Time”, pages 26 and 27.), the outcome of analyzing such a phenomena leads you to independently discovering Special Relativity, and it leads you to independently creating of all the SR equations. It also leads you to understanding why the speed of light is always the speed of light.

        It is so easy to do, if you keep it simple.

        • holistic333

          do you have an email sean to speak to you?

    • Nice article. Very interesting.

    • As yesterday I was switched off by the Net neutrality sensors CIA / DARPA & NSA here are the attempted answers to other postings :

      wavelength & frequency can determine speed of propagation within materials .

      light travels in quantum fluid , the so called “aether medium” not yet accepted by current theoreticians , as sound waves travel in air , radio waves travel thru space , if there is no medium to transmit such wave the wave stops at the medium limit “END” as sound cannot make it in a vacuum unless the signal is converted or transformed to ELF electromagnetic wave to be able to travel in other medium than air (empty space) , a photon can travel as a wave , were it dissipates in space proportional to the distance traveled & red shifting or as a particle (infinite distance) were it can be red or blue shifted by space influences , gravity being a major one , wavitons or spherical waves can travel also infinite distances as they can be deemed energy formed macro-particles, ball lightning is one of such in natural manifestation …


      Human knowledge is relative , try having a fluidic mind and you will have no problem , as the problem is human mind allways wants to tag everrything in absolute terms ,were nature is always evolving and changing , even critical mass is no longer a fixed value , it changes with the approach of masscon objects , say as a sample x object 6 times Jupiter size aproaching the solar system , the reactors critical mass will be altered , less mass will be required for criticality , requiring reactor redesign , or making ones not sensitive to such effect (as thorium froride salt ) fueled ones … 🙂

    • Scott Smith

      Could the speed of light ever be increased by ‘greasing the wheels’ (so to speak) of virtual energy events?

      • Adam Lilien

        The virtual flux is space-time so that if you could reduce the rate of virtual events you effectively alter the fabric creating more time and less space.

      • Nedward Marbletoe

        i’ve read that a Casimir force can give the vacuum negative energy, increasing light speed. ?

    • I think Adam Lilen has been stealing my material my novel Interstellar Spacecraft, X137C, commonly known as Photon 137. Have you been stealing my stuff Adam, huh?! Lol

      • Adam Lilien

        I never heard of this until today.

        • Come on now Mr. Lilien. “You’ve never heard of this until today.” Lol. They told me about you. You’re a scientist, right?

          • Adam Lilien

            I would like to think so, the scientific method and the power of creative vision. What is considered true today may not be tomorrow based on findings. What I find appalling is using “science” not for the discovery of deeper truth but to maintain an agenda of some sort.

            Never went to your interesting site until 4 days ago.

            I have found that Relativity theory special and general have numbers of mathematical and philosophic and experimental holes so travel transcending the defined speed of light (c) is entirely possible and probably has been obtained already by agencies of the Earth and other locations and realms.

            • Actually I meant from another perspective. Nonetheless, I spoke with Dr. Scuddar, a physicists who conducted research on earths’ Magnetic Reconnection process; and the process that involve my novel “Process (s)” relative my Interstellar Travel design. He stated that he’s the first person in the world to discover the electron diffusion occurring at a far higher rate than that of first thought for many years. He stated he’s also uncovered portals about these processes. NASA is launching the MMS, four satellite sensors, to study this phenomenon. Now why do you think that is? Mind you; I was told I was to receive the first ever “Classification and Standards” in regards to Interstellar Travel from the USPTO; Magnetic Reconnection interfacing with my novel process and amid spacecraft design (s). As the USPTO, after its critical update the AIA Laws changing per President Obama, still forgot to include a Classification their A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H and Y Standards. So, again, I ask; why do you thing…especially after DSCVR’s launch by SpaceX to LG1, they’re studying the “X” formation which creat the Aurora Borealis.” Space weather research?

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    • face the fact

      When the light travel in the space that is said to be vacuum may not be a real vacuum but filled with some kind of unknown substance as a medium for the photons to propagate through just like the scientist assumed the there is dark matter because the phenomenon of stars motion in galaxy do not abide the Newton’s gravitation Law.

      If it were true then the speed of light, 299,792.458, won’t be the upper limit of speed.

    • Mongo

      Can’t tell the real thing from the bs (below). Need math and mine stopped at complex variables. What to do?

    • Liberty Krueger

      Interestingly, the speed of light is tied to the vibrational frequencies of matter and neither one is a constant. The evidence for this (although not well known) is very simple. In the 300+ years prior to 1960 there were 164 separate published measurements of the speed of light using 16 different measurement techniques that always showed a slight decrease from formally obtained results. That steady slowing trend stopped suddenly when they started using atomic clocks in the 1960s which indicates that both the measured quantity (speed of light) and the new measuring tool (atomic clocks) are changing at the same rate, so no relative change would be detected between the two. There is other evidence for this as well. Because the former standard for determining the length of a second was based on orbiting bodies before 1967, the gravitational constant should be changing if atomic frequencies are constant. Statistical studies of the gravitational constant haven’t shown any such variation. If atomic frequencies are slowing, then the properties of the atom such as Planck’s constant et al should also be changing. Statistical studies of past measurements do indeed show these changes and in a direction that is consistent with slowing atomic frequencies. So the speed of light is tied to the vibrational frequencies of matter and they are both slowing very slightly.

      See M.E.J. Gheury de Bray’s work “The Velocity of Light” Science Vol. 66 Supplement x, Sept 30, 1927, “The Velocity of Light” Nature p. 464, March 24, 1934, “The Velocity of Light” Nature p. 522, April 4, 1931, T.C. Van Flandern’s work “Is the Gravitational Constant Changing?” The Astrophysical Journal Vol. 248 pp.813-816, Sept. 1, 1981, “Is the Gravitational Constant Changing?” Precision Measurement and Fundamental Constants II, National Bureau of Standards (U.S.A.) Special Publication 617, pp. 625-627, 1984, and Alan Montgomery and Lambert Dolphin’s work “Is the Velocity of Light Constant in Time?” Galilean Electrodynamics Vol. 4, No. 5, pp. 93-97, Sept/Oct 1993.

    • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      There is a particle field made of individual yet connected particles completely filling space.
      The field is NOT fixed in space, it moves-along-with / is-held-in-place-by the largest mass in proximity.
      It’s something like the way gravity works, relative strength due to size and proximity.
      It’s all made from the same particles.

      Part of the field is surrounding and moving with you.
      You are completely immersed in the Earths field.
      The Earth field moves with the Earth and is inside of the Suns field.
      The Suns field encompasses the entire solar system (plus more) and moves with the Sun.
      A Galaxy of course has a particle field and it moves with the Galaxy (as a whole and with the movement of individual stars and systems).

      So if there is a galaxy shooting through the Universe at high speed, the particle field it contains is of course traveling with it. If it collides with another galaxy the particles will of course interact. The stars can shoot right by each other but the particle field(s) are completely filling space so they would collide, bunch up and some particles stay put (they cannot keep moving with the galaxy, there is already another particle field in that direction.).
      It’s the same particle field but two groups are forced together (like tectonic plates)

      The galaxies would still have their particle fields (what they think dark matter is) even after the collision. But where the galaxies collided there would be a clump (enough particles for 2 fields smooshed into the area of one) and it will take a long time to normalize (smooth back out) .

      What they call “Dark Matter” is completely filling space — it’s particle field. The clumps around galaxies and other spots are excessive amounts.

    • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      If you test for a conveyance of light… you would test if there is one, correct?

      Michelson-Morley did NOT do that, they tested if the Earth was rushing through an Ether (medium), that is an erroneous constraint and a big mistake.

      Then everyone completely loses all sensibility and accepts the experiment as valid.

      That means (they think) light does not have a particle field it travels in and since it cannot be just a pure vibration or energy (since there are no such things) they have to invent a mass-less particle. That is compounding the mistake and it is 2 levels deep at the moment.

      But everyone knows matter does have mass.

      But this supposed massless particle does not. So, to explain it they come up with an Higgs field that is completely filling space (in the same way an ether would) and that is what is giving mass only to certain particles. Now the mistake is 3 levels deep.

      NOTE: The Higgs field would actually be a particle field. They think the found the Higgs by smashing protons together and getting the mass-energy?
      That is guess work. I have something the weighs 2 grams, what is it?

      The funny thing is they think photons are massless particles.
      Think about how many there would be.
      Space would be almost solid with massless particles all zipping around in every possible direction at the speed of light. That would mean space is actually filled with particles. And space is also filled with the Higgs particles.

      So, what happened is they thought they eliminated the one particle field that explained how light travels (the ether, medium) and now to explain light they need at least 2 particle fields.

      Einstein knew there was an ether but he went along with them because he knew they were all imbeciles, it’s actually really easy to see that.


      THINK ABOUT IT AGAIN: If there are massless particle photons, space is actually filled solid with them and they are zipping around at the speed of light.

    • If you were going to test if there is a medium for the conveyance of light, would you…

      a) Test if the Earth is rushing through the medium.

      b) Test if there is a medium.

      • Michelson-Morley “confirmed” there is no medium with their experiment.
        Here is your chance to agree with those great men and pick “a”, everything you think you know is based on that.

        NOTE FOR IMBECILES: The correct answer is of course “b” but modern physics is based on MM experiment and they picked “a”