Tag Archives: thought experiment

A thought experiment about traveling faster than the speed of light

Scientists like to say that the speed of light is as fast as it’s possible to go, but I don’t believe them. Just think about it, say you have two things travelling at light speed. Let’s say I’m one of those things, and that you’re the other thing. So we’re hurtling through space as fast as we can go, and I then I reach out my hand and push you forward. I’ll slow down, yeah, but you should wind up with a little boost, even if you’re just going a tiny bit faster, there it is, faster than the speed of light.


That wasn’t so hard, a pretty basic thought experiment, really. That’s how Einstein came up with the majority of his most brilliant ideas, just sitting around thinking about stuff. He’d be lost up there in his genius brain, maybe he hadn’t yet gotten out of his bathrobe, and people would be like, “Einstein? Einstein! Hello?” but he had an incredible talent for focus, able to concentrate solely on the experiments being carried out in his mind.

Because, come on, you think a regular person could just come up with E=mc2? No, you need to be a genius. I mean, I’ve always thought about coming up with my own genius equations, because they have to be out there, more laws that govern the universe, stuff we haven’t yet figured out. The way I see it is, all I have to do is come up with the right equation, it doesn’t necessarily have to be proved. But once it is proved, I’ll have called it.

Like, how about m=Ts3(D-4)? That seems like a good one. Any math majors out there want to take a look at my work? Remember, any published findings are going to have to include me as a source, and I’m not cheap. Well, if it’s only a minor breakthrough, then I guess we can work something out. I’m not totally unreasonable.

Does anybody remember that episode of Boy Meets World where Eric mistakenly refers to Albert Einstein as Calvin Einstein? I remember watching that as a little kid and almost passing out from laughing so hard. For years afterward, I’d try to replicate the joke, waiting for a moment where Einstein’s name should have been brought up organically, like as the answer to a trivia question, or during a discussion about science.

Or maybe if I was in the middle of a conversation about something intellectual or scientific, I’d throw in, “Look, I’m no Calvin Einstein …” and wait for laughter. But nobody ever laughed. And it always made me think, is the joke itself not funny? Or am I just butchering the delivery, screwing up the comedic timing? Because, like I already said, that episode was great, I couldn’t have been the only one to have laughed.

Anybody ever remember that movie where Einstein is trying to set up his niece on a date? When I was a little kid, it was always on TV, like one of those random movies that they’d play during the day while most of the world would be either at school or work. I could never make it through more than ten minutes, but I’d always think, who thought about this movie? What a lame idea.

I think I got off topic from my opening paragraph, the stuff about traveling faster than the speed of light. But what about the opposite, is there some sort of a universal slow limit? I guess zero motion would be the slowest, right? But what if we’re both standing still and I push you? Then you go backwards. Huh. Can light travel backwards?

All of these question, only Einstein would have been able to really come up with a decent thought experiment worthy of taking on such heavy topics. I guess we’ll all have to soldier on without him, instead relying on Stephen Hawking, he’s pretty smart, but I think even he would admit to not being as smart as Einstein.

Don’t we have Einstein’s brain preserved? I know that we haven’t really ironed out all of those sticky ethical issues in regard to cloning, but don’t you think that, as a species, it might do us some good to make an exception for Einstein? We could create a whole army of Einsteins, entire labs set up where everybody is Albert Einstein, even the janitors, they’d all be geniuses. Think of all of the scientific advancement, the progress we’d make. And if we raise them in America, we won’t have to worry about that funny German accent. Did he have a German accent in that movie? I can’t remember. But honestly, that movie was terrible.

Feeling down? I can help!

Let go of all of that pain and suffering. Inconsequential. Get rid of it. Take a deep breath. Deeper. Empty out your lungs first by pushing everything out, keep going. OK, now take a deeper breath in, as deep as you can, hold your arms above your head to let even more air in. Great. Now let it out, just let it go, everything. Did it work? I should have explained. That was a symbolic exhaling, the breath a representation of the pain, the suffering, all of that stuff I was telling you to let go of. Try it again, this time, you know, just think about it, what I said earlier.

Unburden yourself, let go of, or, not leg go, I already said that, but release, yes, release yourself. That’s kind of awkward. Unburden yourself by releasing, yourself. No. Take the burden, the one that you’re carrying, and let it go? Yeah, let it go. I’ll start over.

Imagine all of your troubles, picture them all in your mind, every one of them. Everything negative. All of the things unpleasant in your life. Yes, even what I was talking about before, the burdens, the unburdening. Is it pictured? Great, now, imagine all of that bad imagery transforming into a light switch. A wall mounted light switch. Just any regular switch. But this one’s giant. Or, giant for a light switch. Not actually giant. Let’s say like football-sized giant. And now imagine yourself trying to switch it off, but it’s really hard, because it’s so heavy, it’s just this really big, giantish light switch. But just when you don’t think you’ll be able to do it, yes, that’s it, keep reaching, there. It’s off.

Did that work? That’s another representation. Some more helpful imagery. Let it all go. Exhale it all out and switch it all off. OK, and now I want you take another deep breath, or, just do the deep breath trick again, and I’m just getting this now, it’s all just popping up in my head so kind of go with me here a little, but take it all in – ffsswwsshhhhHHH! – that was the inhaling sound – hold it in a little deeper, breath it in a little more, come on, just like before, OK. OK, now hold it. OK now imagine a balloon. A big one. Bigger. I know I can’t see exactly how big you’re imagining it to be, but just, however big your imaginary balloon is, make it even bigger. OK, and you’re still holding that breath in, right? And it’s everything poison, negative, all of the hate. OK, now let it go, into the balloon, and fill that balloon up. The balloon was deflated before, I forgot to mention that. But now it’s inflated. You inflated it. You’re inflating it still.

Keep going, don’t worry, it won’t pop, because you’re imagining the balloon to be unpoppable. Right? It won’t pop, trust me. And keep exhaling. More. Good. Now tie it up tight. Now imagine it to be everything terrible that you had inside, all of your fear, your despair, your self-loathing, all of that stuff. It’s turned the balloon black. It used to be red. Just, just trust me, it was a regular red balloon. But now it’s black.

Oh yeah and it’s heavy, like weighed down to the floor. OK, now imagine a machine, something that you can put the balloon into. OK … just, I don’t know like a microwave, but bigger. Just go with me here. Put the balloon inside. Close the door. Activate the machine. There’s only one button. Go for it.

Wait for it. Keep waiting. OK, and that’s it. Ding! It’s done. Take the balloon out. Now it’s glowing. And it’s not heavy anymore. In fact, it’s floating away. But that’s OK. Just imagine a ladder really quickly, and picture yourself climbing up the ladder really fast. It’s fine, you can do it, it’s your imagination. Catch the balloon. Hold it in your hands. Untie it. Suck everything back in.

You see what happened there? That machine, it made everything positive. All of that negativity, it’s been transformed into positivity. And then you just sucked it right back up. And so do that, picture that little thought exercise, it helps, it helps you let go, it helps you with that release, that unburdening. Just let it all flow over you. No, inside you, that’s what I meant. No, outside, then change it around, then back inside again.

It’s all in your head. You know, except if you have really bad back pain. I’ve heard chronic back pain is just the worst. You should really go see a medical doctor or a support group if you’re trying to deal with chronic pain. This is just for like emotional pain. But nothing too serious. If it’s too serious, you should go to a doctor for that too, that might be depression. I’m just talking about like moderate sadness. Not too moderate. Slightly moderate. Just, just go talk to a doctor. I’m not a doctor.