Big Picture Science – Cosmos: It’s Big, It’s Weird: Simon Steel

by Gary Niederhoff on January 9, 2012

Part 3 of Cosmos: It’s Big, It’s Weird, featuring Simon Steel, science educator at University College London, using a train trip to demonstrate the mechanics of light speed.
(TRT 5:35)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Chris Walker April 30, 2012 at 10:12 am

If we can see the light from the big bang that took place over 13.5 billion years ago, the big bang being the beginning of time, then how are we observing it the way it was 13.5 billion years ago? doesn’t that mean we come before the big bang?
I know rapid expansion goes some way to explain this but it doesn’t seem to sit right with me. Light is not gravity resistant and I think that is why black holes bend it and we get a lenzing affect from distant galaxies which have other galaxies passing in front of them.
Also I don’t understand the obsession of trying to go faster than the speed of light when it has been widely accepted it would be imposable to achieve. Why hasn’t more time been spent on coming up with a process that is not affected by gravity, if this could be done it would not have to go as fast as light speed but be able to travel from a, to b, by the shortest root. So not being affected by gravity would give the impression of travelling faster than light, but only over vast distances.
I am not a scientist I’m just an observer . (Which is obvious).

avatar Seth Shostak May 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Thanks for the question, Chris. When we look at the so-called “microwave background” radiation, we really are seeing the cosmos as it was when it was only about 300 thousand years old, as that “light” (which is now in the form of radio waves, thanks to the expansion of the universe) is just reaching us now, having spent nearly 14 billion years en route. It’s an old photo, in a way, just reaching us now. Just as when you look with binoculars at someone on the other side of a football stadium, you’re seeing them as they were roughly a millionth of a second ago! Remember, the Big Bang went off everywhere, and so there are pieces of it whose image is just reaching us now.

avatar Chris May 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm

It would make more sense if the big bang went off everywhere, but there is people out there that say it came from a single point, that’s the theory I can’t understand.
Thank you for your reply.

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