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The programme examines how classical ideas, Galilean relativity and Newtonian mechanics, which allowed for infinite speeds were challenged when it was shown that the speed of light was finite and a...lso an absolute barrier.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: S354, Understanding space and time
Item code: S354; 03
First transmission date: 28-03-1979
Published: 1979
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:27
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Producer: Ian Rosenbloom
Contributors: George Abell; Alan Cooper
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Einstein; Gravitation; Light speed; Michelson; Newton's synthesis; Romer; SLAC; Terrestrial/celestial mechanics; Time
Footage description: George Abell, at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, introduces the programme. He points out the importance of determining the gravitational constant. Alan Cooper explains the method by which the Astronomer Royal, Neville Maskelyne, determined the gravitational constant through experiments in Scotland in 1774. Alan Cooper performs several experiments, using a bucket of water, which demonstrate that objects are not affected by a uniform relative motion between observers. Al Saperstein then demonstrates that accelerate in frames can be distinguished from one another. Alan Cooper sums up the above ideas - the Galilsan Principle of Relativity. George Abell explains, with the aid of animatic is the method by which the Danish astronomer Claus Roemer discovered, in 1675, that the speed of light was finite. George Abell goes on to describe the experiment which Albert Michelson measured the speed of light. Shots on location in the Mt. Wilson/Mt. San Antonia area of California where the experiment took place. Over shots of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre (SLAC) in California, Alan Cooper explainshow Newton's Laws of Motion can be tested by this machine. He points out that while Newton's law would predict a speed of several times that of light for particles accelerated here, this does in fact not happen. It turns out that the speed of light is finite and also an absolute barrier. Alan Cooper sums up the programme.
Master spool number: 6HT/72788
Production number: FOUS064Y
Videofinder number: 2035
Available to public: no