While the bizarre mysteries of the quantum world often get all the headlines, Einstein’s special theory of relativity has its fair share of strange as well. Take a ride on the relativity rollercoaster (created by physicist Michael Hush from the Australian National University), in which the speed of light is reduced to 5m/s in order to show some of the odd effects on space and time that occur when traveling near the speed of light:
From New Scientist:
As the ride begins, you experience colour shifting caused by the Doppler effect. Your surroundings also appear distorted as objects are seen at different points in time because of the finite speed of light. Due to the extreme velocity and the effect of angular compression, you start to see objects you’ve already passed by.
As the rollercoaster passes over a series of bumps, colour-shifting and distortion increase and decrease. At this point, the animators ignore changes in colour to accentuate the bending and twisting of objects. As the ride descends towards a big loop, angular compression affects the horizon, which first looks like a ball, then later seems to wrap around you.
In the final segment of the ride, a column looks stretched as part of it is seen at an earlier time. “The rollercoaster is travelling at about 90 per cent of light speed,” says Savage. “The viewer’s position changes a lot during the time it takes light to reach the viewer from the object.
If you don’t have a broadband connection, try a heavy dose of LSD for the same effect…