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CategoriesNooks and cranniesYesteryearSemantic enigmasThe body beautifulRed tape, white liesSpeculative scienceThis sceptred isleRoot of all evilEthical conundrumsThis sporting lifeStage and also screenBirds and also the bees dangerous SCIENCEI have read that 186,000 miles per hour is the typical speed of light. What room the fastest and also slowest speeds attained by light? THE rate of light in a brick is zero. In a vacuum, its rate is an pure constant, as presented by Einstein"s Special theory of Relativity, roughly 300,000,000 metres every second. Hence, over there is no "average speed of light" in any sense in ~ all. Gordon Joly, London E14. GORDON Joly is not rather correct in asserting that the speed of irradiate "in a brick is zero", or that it is difficult to define an mean speed of light. If through a brick we median something that appears opaque, i.e. The absorbs irradiate strongly, the residential or commercial property of absorption and speed of take trip are quite separate. If us took a really thin slice of brick part light would obtain through. Grandfather Joly is correct the light travels at consistent velocity in cost-free speed at 299,792,458 metres per 2nd or about 186,282 miles every second. The specific value is of considerable scientific and technical importance and much effort has entered measuring the accurately. In solid materials light slows down by a factor called the refractive table of contents of the material. Plain glass has actually an table of contents of around 1.5, so irradiate slows down to a only 200,000,000 metres per second. A girl"s ideal friend, diamond, slow it additional to 124,000,000, if in the, exotic gem Rutile the only simply breaks the 100,000,000 limit. With infrared (the invisible light provided to take many of the Gulf war pictures) lot bigger to reduce in speed are possible. In this region lenses room made of the element germanium, i m sorry reduces the speed by a variable of four, when the lowest speed I understand of in a basic solid is reached in crystals that the facet tellurium, slowed through a aspect of 6.3. There are some rather complex situations in scattering products (of which, to it is in fair, grandfather Joly"s brick is an example) and in atomic systems where irradiate travels much much more slowly still. Transforming to the "average" speed of light, if we take a standard weighted average, that is ascribing an prominence to every speed depending on how much light is travelling at that speed, it is quite possible to give an average speed. Many light in the world is on its patient method across the light years that interstellar and also intergallactic space - in cost-free space, in truth - therefore the typical speed will additionally be minutely much less than the speed limit of about 300,000,000 metres every second. (Prof) Harvey Rutt, Dept of Electronics and also Computer Science, university of Southampton. The slowest speed of light ever recorded was 27.5 miles every hour. Yes, twenty-seven and a half miles every hour. This was completed in 1998 by shining light through a cloud of salt ions known as a Bose-Eisenstein Condensate. The hyperactive electrically-charged cloud puts the light"s energy in a similar position to that of a blindfold sprinter, put on skis, make the efforts to operation up a very very crowded and an extremely steep "down" escalator. The sporting analogy is apt: at twenty-seven and also a fifty percent miles every hour, you could out-pace irradiate on a an excellent bicycle. Garrick Alder, London This reminds me the the concern of the average number of legs per person. There being very couple of people with 3 or more legs, (although I"m sure they exist, perhaps as Siamese twins) and also many millions through one or an ext limbs missing: climate the "average" must be much less than two. Dave Corbett, Bilbao, Spain I read in brand-new Scientist freshly that there space now products in i beg your pardon the rate of light is as low as a couple of metres per second - shortly you"ll have the ability to walk much faster than light. Alan Moore, Hong Kong It has actually in fact been efficiently stopped - frozen within a clear solid, and doesn"t start to move again till externally stimulated. Chris, London, England The questioner understates the speed of irradiate by a factor of 3600 - it is 186,000 miles per SECOND. Quentin Langley, Woking UK include your answer

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