Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

Essay/History of Science
Against citizen science

It might style itself as a grassroots movement but citizen science is little more than a cheap land-grab by big business

Philip Mirowski

Essay/History of Science
Science is broken

Perverse incentives and the misuse of quantitative metrics have undermined the integrity of scientific research

Siddhartha Roy & Marc A Edwards