Exploring the Limitations of Einstein’s Equations: When Speed of Light Leaves Physics Senseless

Einstein’s theory of special relativity makes some extraordinary predictions, including the idea that moving clocks tick at a slower rate than stationary ones. As clocks approach the speed of light, they tick even more slowly, getting closer and closer to not ticking at all. This concept raises an intriguing question: Does light “experience” time, considering that fast-moving objects encounter time more slowly, and light is the ultimate speed limit? Numerous answers have been provided on online physics chat forums, but what is the truth?

At first glance, the notion that light does not experience time appears absurd. We can observe light passing from the Sun to the Earth and even determine how long it takes (roughly eight minutes). As a result, it seems evident that light experiences time. However, that is the time we experience. The question remains: what does light perceive?

Answering this question is complicated. Physics is an experimental science, and the most reliable approach to answering questions is by conducting experiments. We could devise an experiment in which a clock is linked to a photon. The only issue with that notion is that it is entirely impracticable. Only objects without mass, such as light photons, can travel at the speed of light, while objects with mass must travel more slowly. Since clocks have mass, no clock can accompany light to allow us to conduct the experiment.

Determining whether light experiences time is challenging, but it raises fundamental questions about the nature of light and time. Although we may not be able to conduct experiments to answer this question definitively, contemplating the question can still expand our understanding of the universe.