Light, space, and time

Ian Walmsley

in Light

Published in print September 2015 | ISBN: 9780199682690
Published online September 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191782442 | DOI:

Series: Very Short Introductions

Light, space, and time

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  • Electromagnetism, Optics, and Acoustics


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For Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln in the 13th century, the challenge of understanding light’s nature was critical to understanding the world: without light, there is no space, and therefore no forum in which events can take place. ‘Light, space, and time’ looks at how the entwining of space and time by light arises by first considering Newton’s conception of space and then Einstein’s contrasting theory of relativity. It also explains why optics are so good for communication. First, light beams don’t influence each other, meaning a single fibre can support many light pulses simultaneously, and second, light waves oscillate at very high frequencies, allowing very short pulses to be generated.

Keywords: Albert Einstein; global Positioning System; light; Isaac Newton; optics; relativity; space; speed of light; time; time dilation

Chapter.  3556 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Electromagnetism, Optics, and Acoustics

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