would it be wrong to say that in the equation, E=mc^2, "c" is speed of a EM wave...

Discussion in 'Homework Help' started by PG1995, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. PG1995

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 15, 2011

    All electromagnetic waves travel with same speed, where speed is, v=fλ. For instance, radio waves have longer wavelength and low frequency but gamma waves have shorter wavelength and high frequency, and therefore both waves have same speed. Light is just one type of EM waves. Then, why is special emphasis laid on 'light' while talking of the equation E=mc^2 and Einstein's theories of relativity? In other words, would it be wrong to say that in the equation, E=mc^2, "c" is speed of a EM wave, or saying that speed of a EM wave is a universal constant? I hope you get my question. Thank you.

  2. Papabravo


    Feb 24, 2006
    The speed in a vacuum is different than the speed in materials like copper, water, glass, or plastic. Using light, in common parlance, sounds less pretentious than "Electromagnetic Wave". We all know what the phrase "speed of light" means so I'm not really sure if there is any real value in the alternate choice of words.
    PG1995 likes this.
  3. WBahn


    Mar 31, 2012
    It wouldn't be any less correct, but it arguably wouldn't be any more correct, either. It's somewhat like saying that 2+2 is 4 and then having someone assert that it could be 3+1, as well, and therefore we should include that, too. That there are other correct ways to express something doesn't mean that any way that fails to capture all of them is wrong. Now, if the claim where that c must be only the speed of "light", then the beef is valid.

    In either case, it should be stipulated that the speed in question is the speed in a vacuum.
    PG1995 likes this.
  4. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
    PG1995 likes this.