Mass and Acceleration at Light Speed

Mass and Acceleration at Light Speed

Yesterday we looked at the two postulates of Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity. We saw how our view of time is changed by taking the two postulates and applying them to motion at or near the speed of light. Now let’s look at mass and acceleration at light speed.

Looking at the top equation, which we presented yesterday, you can see that at the speed of light, the equation’s denominator becomes 1 – 1, which is zero. Time stops. If the velocity could somehow exceed the velocity of light, the denominator would be the square root of a negative number, which is not possible.

Another one of Einstein’s equations is a description of length in the direction of motion. The second equation shows that an object’s length in motion (L’) is equal to its length at rest (L) times the quantity square root of 1 minus the velocity (v) squared divided by the speed of light (c) squared. Thus the faster you move, the thinner you are in the direction of motion. An object one meter long at rest would be .765 meters at half the speed of light. At the speed of light, it would disappear, because it would have no length. There would be energy, but no physical length. What travels at the speed of light? The answer, of course, is light itself. Light is two-dimensional. It has no thickness in the direction in which it is moving, precisely what Einstein’s postulates predict.

Mass is another quantity that is affected by Einstein’s postulates. The equation for mass is similar to the equation for time. The mass in motion (m) equals the mass at rest (m’) divided by the square root of 1 minus the velocity squared divided by the speed of light squared. As an object moves faster, its mass increases, but it can never reach light speed. What, then, can we know about mass and acceleration at light speed?

One of the fundamental laws of physics is Newton’s Second Law. It says that when we apply force to a mass, the force (F) depends on the amount of the mass (M) and how much we want it to accelerate (A). The equation is F=MA. At the speed of light, the mass of an object would be infinite, and the force required to accelerate it to that speed would also be infinite. Because of the magnitude of the force, the mass would collapse into a black hole long before reaching light speed. So, it is not possible to achieve mass and acceleration at light speed.

Scientists have verified these formulas experimentally. When you accelerate a sub-atomic particle to a high velocity in a particle accelerator, its mass increases. So what created the mass in the first place? Infinite force – one of the properties of God. Proverbs 8:22-31 finds “Wisdom” is the tool God used for everything He created. Einstein has given us an excellent way to get a small understanding of the creation we live in and the wisdom and power of the God who created it.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Being Timeless

Being TimelessBeing outside of time or timeless is a new concept to science. In classical physics, time is perhaps the most fundamental standard against which everything else is based. When we measure velocity, it’s basic unit is length per second or hour. Feet per second or miles per hour are familiar to most of us. When we measure acceleration, the units are meters per second squared. Newton’s Second Law defines force as mass multiplied by acceleration, so time even becomes involved in parameters that don’t directly include motion.

One of the equations that Einstein gave us which high school students like to play with is the equation for time at very high speeds. For a given frame of reference, time is defined by the equation T = T’/the square root of 1 – V^2 over C^2. In the equation, T = the time you experience. T’ is the time you would experience at rest relative to a given frame of reference. V is the speed at which you move, and C is the speed of light. Notice that as your speed reaches the speed of light, the fraction V^2/C^2 become 1, and since it is subtracted from 1, the value of the denominator becomes zero. Time ceases to exist. It becomes undefined.

If you could exceed the speed of light, the denominator would become the square root of a negative number which is said to be imaginary. Einstein gave us a similar equation for mass in which the mass is the undefined factor. Nuclear physics and quantum mechanics verify these equations.

This is an over-simplified explanation, but the point I am making is that there is physical evidence that there are dimensions beyond the three in which we exist. Being timeless is something science has begun to comprehend because these equations show that time is a variable that can be changed. The creation is far grander and far more mysterious than we can imagine.

For Christians, this is no surprise. The Bible is full of descriptions that embrace the idea that time is a created entity and that creations exist outside of time. The whole concept of there being a beginning to the cosmos in Genesis 1:1 recognizes that there was an existence before time. Proverbs 8:22-23 indicates that time was a designed and fashioned quantity. Revelation 22:13 repeats this concept. Second Timothy 1:9 refers to it, and the whole idea of eternity relies upon it.

When we reach the end of life, time ceases to exist for us. That has interesting implications. If there is no time, there is no death because death depends upon aging, and without time, nothing ages. There is no physical pain if time doesn’t exist. That’s because physical pain depends upon the time it takes for the pain signal to go from what gets hurt (like a finger) to what registers the hurt – your brain.

“No more tears, no more sorrows.” Revelation 21:4 Describes this change saying that “the former things have all passed away.” Second Peter 3:8-13 speaks of the elements dissolving at the end of time. Science has given us some reinforcement for these promises recognizing that the physical world will be done away with when time ends. Let us live in such a way that we can look forward to the timeless new order God has in store for us.
— John N. Clayton © 2019