Ask Dr. Science

A S K D R . S C I E N C E
Reprinted w/o permission

  • Q: Why is the speed of light only 186,000 miles per second? Can’t science do better than this?
  • A: Yes, you’re right. It’s a disgrace that light only goes a measly 186,000 miles per second, but physicists are working on the problem. There is already a prototype vehicle that goes 200,000 miles per second, but the headlights shine at only 186,000 miles per second. This is equivalent to driving down the freeway the wrong way with the headlights not only out but also chasing you down the road. This is why so many scientists today no longer own a driver’s license.

  • Q: What would happen if the speed of light were only sixty miles per hour?
  • A: As we approach the speed of light, the aging process slows down. So, if the speed of light were sixty miles per hour, we would have even more people speeding, especially older people trying to stay young. As a matter of fact, physics would demand that we go faster than the speed of light. The safest thing is to drive at a steady sixty to keep time and the highway patrol off our necks. Airplanes would become obsolete in this slow light world, because you would be going so fast, relatively speaking, that you’d be back before you even left. This would make business trips unnecessary and lead to economic collapse. So, to answer your question, life, if the speed of light were sixty miles per hour, would be youthful, fast, and dark.

  • Q: Why do objects become shorter and wider as they approach the speed of light?
  • A: There are two different kinds of light here, the light that fills our days and the light that fills our beers and diet sodas. The objects that become shorter and wider are those that consume too much light beer. The so-called “couch potato syndrome” could be more a side-effect of gravity than of light, though the light emitted from a TV set seems to have an adverse effect on weight. TV light, or, as science calls it, “stupid light,” seems to create an urge in couch potatoes to drink gallons of light beer. Why, we don’t know. Stupid light contrasts with smart light, which is the intelligent radiation we get from the sun and Eveready batteries. When we approach the speed of smart light we don’t get shorter and wider; we get dark, bump into things, and fall down. So, if you plan on breaking the light barrier, I advise you not to. Turn on the TV and crack a couple of cold ones. You’ll be fat, but you’ll be safe.

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