Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions are meant to be completed when they are reached in the reading, before continuing.  Getting the "correct" answer to Discussion Questions is not important.  Instead, the purpose of Discussion Questions is to address the issues, start you thinking about the material, and identify your preconceptions.  Completing these assignments before continuing with the reading will aid you greatly in the learning process.
The speed of light is often listed as equaling 3.00 x 108 m/s.  Does light always travel at that speed, or can it travel faster?  Can it travel slower?  Why do you believe this is so?
Which of the following do you think could travel faster than light:  a cheetah, a bullet, sound, the space shuttle, or highly-energetic electrons?  What makes you choose the answer(s) you did?
Is there a limit to how fast information can be transferred?  What is it?  Do you expect the current trend of faster and faster communications to continue its growth, or will we eventually reach a limit that technology is unable to overcome?
How does a line of a marching band make a turn without getting out of step?  How could this be related to the bending of light through a prism?
How can a beam of laser light travel through a clear optical fiber without any significant amount of light escaping when the beam strikes the side of the fiber?  Do you think the laser light could stay in a fiber that is bent?  Why or why not?
A marching band turns a corner by members at one end of the row walking more slowly and members at the other end of the row walking more quickly.
A marching band turning a corner.

How fast can light travel?
Continue to the next page to find out!

Copyright © 1999-2004 Doris Jeanne Wagner and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  All Rights Reserved.