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Q & A: speed of light and interaction

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Most recent answer: 01/08/2016
Q:
If were to move along the ray of light with speed same as the speed of light, then would we experience static electric and magnetic field? Is it possible in this way to interact a charged particle with light?
- Razin Shaikh (age 16)
Navsari, Gujarat, Navsari
A:

Let's say the speed of light is c. According to the theory of relativity, even if we travel at speed close to the speed of light, we will not observe the light traveling at speed slower than c. Light still travels at speed c relative to our speed. It is a central assumption Einstein made to build his theory, which turns out to work. Therefore, we will not experience "static" electric and magnetic field. As for what would happen if you were to travel at c with respect to your initial resting condition, we can't say because relativity says that's impossible.

Light is not static. However, light and charged particles do interact. The charged particle accelerates back and forth in response to the electric field of the light, and then the moving particle also responds to the magnetic field of the light. The average results is that the light pushes the particle some. 

Schoi &mbw


(published on 01/08/2016)

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