In a Visualization of Our Travels (Part 1) we left off with”
“. . . . before we start in on visualizing more than three dimensions, give some thought to the fact that we can’t really even see the three that we think we can see.”
Einstein showed us, and physicists believe, that matter is a state of energy and that you can change from state to the other; also known as nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. The Physics of Success describes our motion (very fast) through the universe as energy moving from string-to-string, and the time it takes for that energy transfer is what we know as the speed of light. It would more accurately be called the speed of energy. So, instead of a photon being a particle, it’s actually energy moving through a densely packed universe filled with particles (strings, quanta, or quarks). In a state of vacuum, the strings are not vibrating. Where there is matter, the strings are vibrating (energized).
Think of a perfect line of billiard balls, and then hitting one end of the line with a cue ball. All of the balls sit still, except for the ball at the other end which rolls away, á la Newton’s Cradle. If those were our densely packed strings, the speed at which the energy moves from the first to the last ball in the line is the speed of light. A photon is a quantum, so it can just boogie along until it smacks into an energized string (or structure of strings) that stop, deflect, absorb, etc., the energy. But what if that structure is a bound set of particles; bound into the form of an atom, which may be bound to molecules, and bound into, well, you?
Well, first off, you can’t just travel in one dimension because when particles bind together, by definition they occupy more than one dimension. The more particles bind together, the more space they occupy, and the higher the energy (mass). Now you have a whole mess of particles impacting a whole other mess of particles. Instead of a nice straight line of billiard balls, you have a block of billiard balls, and instead of one cue ball, you have a block of cue balls hitting the block of billiard balls. If the block of cue balls is a car, and the block of billiard balls have a relatively low mass such as air, the higher mass car just pushes the lower mass air out of the way. If the block of billiard balls is a Mack Truck, there is an entirely different outcome.
When the block of cue balls impacts a block of billiard balls, energy flies all over the place, which is quite unlike a photon traveling in a straight line. Because that energy is dispersed in many different directions (dimensions), the time it takes to reach Point B from Point A is much longer. That part is easier to visualize; picture yourself walking or running to the end of the block as fast as you can. Now picture yourself walking or running to the end of the block with your best friend riding piggyback. Not quite so fast with that extra mass, and that’s only roughly doubling the mass. In the case of you vs. a photon, you outmass the photon by a factor of trillions and trillions.
So we can’t get from, say, the earth to the moon as fast as a laser beam, but then again, if you went to the moon (and we did), you can bring along a lunar rover, which is not something you can do with a beam of light.