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speed of light

The distance light can travel in a unit of time through a given substance. Light travels through a vacuum at about 186,000 miles, or 300,000 kilometers, per second. (See E = mc2, electromagnetic waves, relativity, and twin paradox.)

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Note

A light year, or the distance light can travel in a year, is over five trillion miles.

Note

Light from the sun takes about eight minutes to reach the Earth.

Note

Light from the moon, and other electromagnetic radiation from the moon, takes about a second and a half to reach the Earth. In conversations between astronauts on the moon and their ground crews, there are lapses of about three seconds between exchanges, because of the time it takes for radio waves to make a round trip between the Earth and the moon.

Note

The special theory of relativity states that the speed of light as measured by all observers is the same.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.