Einstein Demonstrations- Speed of Light

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This podcast is part of the series: Einstein Demonstrations

Multimedia Details Title: Einstein Demonstrations- Speed of Light
Creator: McWane Science Center
Submitted By: Kathy Fournier, Informal Education Partner, Informal Education Partner

McWane Science Center


Einstein's crucial breakthrough about the nature of light, made in 1905, can be summed up in a deceptively simple statement: The speed of light is constant. So what does this sentence really mean? Surprisingly, the answer has nothing to do with the actual speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second through the "vacuum" of empty space. Instead, Einstein had an unexpected insight: that light from a moving source has the same velocity as light from a stationary source. For example, beams of light from a lighthouse, from a speeding car's headlights and from the lights on a supersonic jet all travel at a constant rate as measured by all observers—despite differences in how fast the sources of these beams move.

Length: 02:10
Content Areas: Science
Alabama Course of Study Alignments and/or Professional Development Standard Alignments:
SC (8)
12. Classify waves as mechanical or electromagnetic.
mechanical—earthquake waves;
electromagnetic—ultraviolet light waves, visible light waves
  • Describing how earthquake waves, sound waves, water waves, and electromagnetic waves can be destructive or beneficial due to the transfer of energy
  • Describing longitudinal and transverse waves
  • Describing how waves travel through different media
  • Relating wavelength, frequency, and amplitude to energy
  • Describing the electromagnetic spectrum in terms of frequencies
  • Example: electromagnetic spectrum in increasing frequencies—microwaves, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, X rays