Today is the birthday of Jean Bernard Léon Foucault, born in 1821 to a publisher in Paris. In addition to defining and inventing the Foucault pendulum, Foucault is credited with naming the gyroscope. But first, the pendulum. Since the time of Galileo who defined the laws governing the motion of pendulums, but Foucault was the first to use the pendulum to show the rotation of the earth independent of celestial observation. Before he was thirty he devised an experiment to measure the speed of light. Today he is known more for the pendulum that bears his name than any of his other achievements. The word pendulum is a New Latin neuter of the noun pendulus meaning hanging down from the verb pendere meaning to hang. Image of a Foucault pendulum at the Pantheon in Paris.
I had no idea about Foucault coming up with the name Gyroscope.
Is it possible that outside of our frame of reference, we are traveling at the speed of light, but we don’t sense it because everything else in our frame of reference (the observable universe) is also traveling at the speed of light?
Great question! The Principal of Invariant Light Speed, one of Einstein’s postulates, states that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant no matter the frame of reference. Therefore, no matter the observer, the speed of light provides the same limitations on motion.
In short, probably not. It isn’t entirely impossible, but our current knowledge of the universe makes it highly improbable.
To read more about the Principle of Invariant Light Speed, please click here.
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Answered by Olivia D., Expert Leader
Edited by Ashlee R.
Invariant light speed is such a counter-intuitive concept so misconceptions about the things related to the speed of light is quite common. But people who are much smarter than us can explain these concepts to us in plain language, thankfully.