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A Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Tenth by Stephen Hawking

By Stephen Hawking

The up to date and elevated 10th anniversary variation

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Additional info for A Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition

Sample text

Nowadays we use just this method to measure distances precisely, because we can measure time more accurately than length. 000000003335640952 second, as measured by a cesium clock. ) Equally, we can use a more convenient, new unit of length called a light-second. This is simply defined as the distance that light travels in one second. 000000003335640952 second). There is no need to introduce the idea of an ether, whose presence anyway cannot be detected, as the Michelson-Morley experiment showed.

Only events in the future of P can be affected by what happens at P because nothing can travel faster than light. Similarly, the past of P can be defined as the set of all events from which it is possible to reach the event P traveling at or below the speed of light. It is thus the set of events that can affect what happens at P. The events that do not lie in the future or past of P are said to lie in the elsewhere of P (Fig. 5). What happens at such events can neither affect nor be affected by what happens at P.

Maxwell’s equations predicted that there could be wavelike disturbances in the combined electromagnetic field, and that these would travel at a fixed speed, like ripples on a pond. If the wavelength of these waves (the distance between one wave crest and the next) is a meter or more, they are what we now call radio waves. Shorter wavelengths are known as microwaves (a few centimeters) or infrared (more than a ten-thousandth of a centimeter). Visible light has a wavelength of between only forty and eighty millionths of a centimeter.

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