Relativity visualized
Motion near the cosmic speed limit
Approaching lattice (0.9 c), MPEG4 320×240 (254 kB), MPEG4 640×480 (620 kB)

Motion near the cosmic speed limit

Ute Kraus, July 14, 2005

The speed of light in vacuum – 299 792 458 meters per second or more than a billion kilometers per hour – is the ultimate speed limit, enforced by the laws of nature. Compared to light, motion in everyday life is extremely slow. But even though we never experience high velocities ourselves, in theory we understand them very well. Computer simulations based on the special theory of relativity make it possible to simply take a look at objects moving at nearly the speed of light.


This is the online version of Ute Kraus: Bewegung am kosmischen Tempolimit – Visualisierungen zur Speziellen Relativitätstheorie, Sterne und Weltraum, August 2005, S. 40-46.

The PDF of the printed version (in German) can be downloaded hereexternal link from the web page of WiS! - Wissenschaft in die Schulen! external link

More: Additional examples of the visual appearance of objects at relativistic speeds, including movies, can be found in Sights that Einstein could not yet see and in Rolling Wheels. Relativistic soccer is the topic of The ball is round. The opposite scenario of an observer moving at nearly the speed of light is illustrated and explained in Through the city at nearly the speed of light.

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Authors: Ute Kraus, Date: July 14, 2005
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