So, you think you’re pretty good on that bike, huh? How fast can you go? Have you ever done any cool jumps?
We took it upon ourselves to give your bike a bit of an upgrade. Better shocks, a nice new bell, and oh, I almost forgot, it can travel at light speed. Imagine riding your bike at the speed of light.
What would you see while you’re riding? How would you look to other people? And this is safe. Right?
They say that traveling at light speed is just like riding a bike. Once you do it you never forget how.
Okay, they don’t actually say that. But if you did manage to pedal your way to light speed, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. The speed of light is about 300 million m/s (186,000 mi/s). It’s a speed goal that may seem ambitious, but with the new bike we gave you, you should be able to get there.
We do recommend wearing a helmet. You know, just in case. As you pickup speed, you’re going to notice a few changes.
First, you would experience time dilation. Basically, the faster something moves, the slower it moves through time. If you’re biking along at the speed of light, time would stand still for you. Pretty cool right? But then things start to get … trippy.
You’d see something called the doppler effect. This would cause the color of the objects around you to become distorted. As you get closer to objects, they’ll turn blue.
With light, different colors show us different energies and wavelengths. The higher the energy, the smaller the wavelength. You’re seeing approaching objects turn blue because their wavelengths are being compressed.
If you look back at the objects you’ve passed, they’ll start to turn red as their wavelengths are stretching out. The further you go, you would start to see wavelengths unseen by the human eye. Ultraviolet or infrared wavelengths would be so compressed that you could actually see thermal radiation.
Enjoy the Predator vision while you can. It’s not going to last. Here’s the thing, the faster you move, the darker everything behind you will be as their photons will be less able to reach your eyes.
It would be like biking through a big scary tunnel, and eventually you would only see darkness. Also, now would be a good time to pump the breaks. If you bike for longer than one second, you may end up halfway to Mars.
It would be an experience, to say the least. But what would it look like to other people? Well, research at the Univerity of Surrey might be able to help us out with this one.
Okay, so this is the bike before it starts moving. Clearly, they spared no expense on a visual representation. Next, the bike picks up speed. The light scattered from the front wheel of the bicycle will travel a shorter distance than the light scattered from the back wheel.
The biker is traveling so fast that when the light reaches the spectator’s eyes, the bicycle will be much closer to them than it was when the light was scattered. Essentially, it would almost look like a long photo exposure in that the bike becomes one long movement. The bicycle will be made up of a patchwork of itself at different times.
That poor viewer will see both your face and back at the same time. Will it be a once in a lifetime experience? Sure. Will they need therapy? We think so.
In other words, it’s a mess to look at. In fact, whoever watched this light speed bike ride is probably going to throw up. Talk about whip-lash. So, could you burn some rubber, and go as fast as the speed of light?
No. Sorry. As of now, traveling at light speed is impossible, especially for commercial bicycles. But what if we invested in that technology, and were able to leave the speed limit in the dust?
- “Cycling Faster Than Light”. Gee, Henry. 1999. Nature. doi:10.1038/news990225-5.
- “Physicists Solve the Mystery of the Light-Speed Cyclist”. 2020. Popular Mechanics.
- “What Einstein’s theory means for a cyclist moving at almost light speed”. 2020. nature.com.
- “Gamow’s cyclist: a new look at relativistic measurements for a binocular observer”. 2020. Proceedings Of The Royal Society A.
- “Pluto Fact Sheet”. 2020. nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov.