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If one drives through space at light speed and the head lights are turned on, what will happen? Or...if the tail lights are turned on, that what will that look like?
Question Date: 2001-05-24
Answer 1:

It is better to think of what happens if you are driving near light speed, but still less than the speed of light. Then think about what happens as you get closer and closer to the speed of light.

If you are in the car, then the headlights and tail-light look like they radiate out like normal. However, all the scenery outside that you see will have their shape, color, and brightness distorted, because the scenery is moving by very fast.

If you are outside the car, then the scenery looks normal. However, looking at the car, all the parts of the car, (including the headlights and taillights) will have their shape, color, and brightness distorted, because the car is moving by very fast.

The view of the scenery from the inside the car is distorted in the same way as the view of the car from outside. This is because to the person in the car, the scenery is passing by really fast, while to the person outside, the car is passing by really fast in the exact same way. The motion is all just relative to each other.

The specific way in which a thing that is moving has its shape, color, and brightness distorted depends on whether it is moving toward you, away from you, or passing by. For example, if you are in the car, things look different when looking ahead, to the side, or behind you.

Better than describing what happens is to look at a video simulation of what things look like. Check out this page
for videos on what it looks like to drive near light speed.

There are many links on the web for this kind of thing, just search for "traveling near the speed of light" under www.google.com

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