Riding light

45 minutes

The plodding photon, or how the speed of light looks sluggish on a galactic scale

According to Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, the speed of light (approximately 299,792 kilometres – or roughly 7.5 rotations around the Earth – per second in a vacuum) is the Universe’s speed limit, and therefore the fastest we could ever hope to travel through space. Swift as it might seem, when it comes to traversing the vast expanses between solar systems and galaxies, it’s still very slow-going. Indeed, the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way, Canis Major, is 25,000 light years away. Set to a mesmerising score by the US composer Steve Reich, Riding Light is an illuminating look at light speed, simulating the journey of a photon from the Sun’s surface to just beyond Jupiter’s orbit. For a brisker take, see a condensed, three-minute version of the same video here.

Director: Alphonse Swinehart

Video/Gender & Sexuality

In southern Mexico, a long-acknowledged ‘third gender’ is not masculine or feminine

9 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Ethics

If soldiers act with unjust aggression they are as culpable as civilian criminals

6 minutes

Video/Design & Fashion

A film that dreams of a poem that dreams of tragedy and love

4 minutes

Essay/Mathematics

How to play mathematics

The world is full of mundane, meek, unconscious things embodying fiendishly complex mathematics. What can we learn from them?

Margaret Wertheim

Video/Evolution

A cut-throat case of evolutionary backstabbing in the Peruvian rainforest

3 minutes

Idea/History of Science

The missing fossils matter as much as the ones we have found

Adrian Currie & Derek Turner

Video/History of Science

‘I could not but wonder at it’: history’s first glimpses into the microbial world

7 minutes

Essay/Physics

This granular life

That the world is not solid but made up of tiny particles is a very ancient insight. Is it humanity’s greatest idea?

Carlo Rovelli

volume_up
play_arrow
pause
Idea/Physics

Why we can stop worrying and love the particle accelerator

Joel Frohlich