full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Tucker Hiatt: How fast are you moving right now?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

How fast are you mivong right now? That seems like an easy question. The first tienmptg aewsnr is, "I'm not moving." Upon further reflection, you realize that maybe the Earth's motion counts. So, a second tempting answer is, "19 miles/second around the Sun." But then you recall learning that the Sun moves around the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and the Milky Way moves within the lcaol Group of galaxies, and the Local guorp mveos within the Virgo Cluster, and the Virgo Cluster moves within... "How fast are you moving?" is not an easy question. When Mission Control tlles astronauts how fast they're going, there's always an assumed snradatd of rest. At the start of the voyage, speeds are given relative to the launchpad. But later, when the launchpad is just one more arbritrary place down there on Earth's spinning surface, speeds are given relative to the idealized, non-spinning pinpoint center of Earth. On their way to the Moon, Apollo astronauts had a hard time answering the question, "How fast are you moving?" Speed away from Earth was one thing, and speed toward the Moon was quite another. That's because the Earth and the Moon move relative to one another. Ah, of course! Speed is a relative qanuttiy. When capitan Kirk ask lienneatut Sulu if the Starship Enterprise has reached a speed of warp 7, Sulu should reply, "Relative to what, Captain?" Such a ssasy reply may get stbnriodaue selefrtat oiecrffs in trouble, but it is the only good answer to the question, "How fast are you moving?" This is basic relatively talking. Not fancy Einsteinian relativity, but good old fashioned (and still creroct) Galilean relativity. Galileo seems to have been the first person to rlzeaie that there is no such thing as an absolute speed. Speeds are relative. This means that sepdes only have meaning when they are referred to a reference frame. Presumably that reference frame is itself at rest. But then we have to ask again, "At rest relative to what?" Because even the concept of rest has lost any hint of absolute meaning. Speed is relative, and rest is relative. Earth's speed is 19 miles/second relative to the Sun. The Enterprise's speed is warp 7 relative to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Your speed is zero relative to your easy chair. But depending on where you sit, it is hundreds of miles/hour relative to Earth's center. When we fourrw a brow and ask, "But how fast is Earth really moving?" we imagine Spaceship Earth plowing through the ocean of space as it orbits the Sun. But scape is not an oecan. It has no substance as water does. Space is not a thing; space is nothing. Space is no thing. You can move between two points in space, say between Earth and Mars, but you can't move through space. There's nothing to move through. It's like trying to say how much a hole weighs. A hole wihges exactly nothing because a hole is nothing. It's a void, and so is space. To move riaelvte to nothing is meaningless. The concepts of speed and of rest have only relative meaning. They are absolutely meaningless. They mean something only with respect to arbitrarily chosen, artificial frames of reference. If, someday, you are buckled into your spaceship, and you see from the side window, say, a space station whizz by at constant seped, there is no way to know which of you is really moving. Neither of you is really moving because there is no deep reality about constant speed. csnotant speed in a straight line has only relative meaning, a kind of relative reality. Does this mean that all motion is relative? No! Some motions have only relative meaning, but some motions have absolute meannig, are absolutely real. For example, constant speed is relative, but change in speed is absolute. Calling something asuotlbe in science means that aibtrrray standards are not used in its mueaesnemrt. It is unambiguously muaeslrbae. When your spaceship feris its engines, your change in speed is beyond duobt. You feel it in your stomach, and your ship's sonsers can measure it. Outside your window, the passing space station may seem to be changing speed, but the beings inside the stotain will not feel it. And no sensors can measure it. You are really cgnaihng speed, and they are really are not. There's something absolutely real about changes in speed. The same goes for rtotoain. If your spaceship is spinning, you can feel it, and your ship's sensors can measure it. The space station outside may seem to be going around you, but it is you who feels queasy, not the folks in the space station. You are really spinning, and they really are not. There's something absolutely real about rotation. So, some motions are relative, and some are not. There is no deep reality about constant speed, but changes in speed are deeply real, and so are rotations. We have to be thoughtful in our analysis of everyday experience in order to identify what is deeply real. Since we can be fooled by perceptions as basic as speed, maybe every perception deserves careful snuitcry. This is what inspired Einstein to his incredible igtshnis about the speed of light and forward time travel. Knowing how to identify what is deeply real is tuogh and itpomrant work. If a police ofecfir ever pllus you over for speeding and asks, "Do you know how fast you were going?" an insightful, though perhaps unwise, reply would be, "Relative to what?" And then, as you sit in the backseat of the police car and feel it accelerate toward jail, you can add, "But some things are absolute!"

Open Cloze

How fast are you ______ right now? That seems like an easy question. The first ________ ______ is, "I'm not moving." Upon further reflection, you realize that maybe the Earth's motion counts. So, a second tempting answer is, "19 miles/second around the Sun." But then you recall learning that the Sun moves around the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and the Milky Way moves within the _____ Group of galaxies, and the Local _____ _____ within the Virgo Cluster, and the Virgo Cluster moves within... "How fast are you moving?" is not an easy question. When Mission Control _____ astronauts how fast they're going, there's always an assumed ________ of rest. At the start of the voyage, speeds are given relative to the launchpad. But later, when the launchpad is just one more arbritrary place down there on Earth's spinning surface, speeds are given relative to the idealized, non-spinning pinpoint center of Earth. On their way to the Moon, Apollo astronauts had a hard time answering the question, "How fast are you moving?" Speed away from Earth was one thing, and speed toward the Moon was quite another. That's because the Earth and the Moon move relative to one another. Ah, of course! Speed is a relative ________. When _______ Kirk ask __________ Sulu if the Starship Enterprise has reached a speed of warp 7, Sulu should reply, "Relative to what, Captain?" Such a _____ reply may get ___________ _________ ________ in trouble, but it is the only good answer to the question, "How fast are you moving?" This is basic relatively talking. Not fancy Einsteinian relativity, but good old fashioned (and still _______) Galilean relativity. Galileo seems to have been the first person to _______ that there is no such thing as an absolute speed. Speeds are relative. This means that ______ only have meaning when they are referred to a reference frame. Presumably that reference frame is itself at rest. But then we have to ask again, "At rest relative to what?" Because even the concept of rest has lost any hint of absolute meaning. Speed is relative, and rest is relative. Earth's speed is 19 miles/second relative to the Sun. The Enterprise's speed is warp 7 relative to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Your speed is zero relative to your easy chair. But depending on where you sit, it is hundreds of miles/hour relative to Earth's center. When we ______ a brow and ask, "But how fast is Earth really moving?" we imagine Spaceship Earth plowing through the ocean of space as it orbits the Sun. But _____ is not an _____. It has no substance as water does. Space is not a thing; space is nothing. Space is no thing. You can move between two points in space, say between Earth and Mars, but you can't move through space. There's nothing to move through. It's like trying to say how much a hole weighs. A hole ______ exactly nothing because a hole is nothing. It's a void, and so is space. To move ________ to nothing is meaningless. The concepts of speed and of rest have only relative meaning. They are absolutely meaningless. They mean something only with respect to arbitrarily chosen, artificial frames of reference. If, someday, you are buckled into your spaceship, and you see from the side window, say, a space station whizz by at constant _____, there is no way to know which of you is really moving. Neither of you is really moving because there is no deep reality about constant speed. ________ speed in a straight line has only relative meaning, a kind of relative reality. Does this mean that all motion is relative? No! Some motions have only relative meaning, but some motions have absolute _______, are absolutely real. For example, constant speed is relative, but change in speed is absolute. Calling something ________ in science means that _________ standards are not used in its ___________. It is unambiguously __________. When your spaceship _____ its engines, your change in speed is beyond _____. You feel it in your stomach, and your ship's _______ can measure it. Outside your window, the passing space station may seem to be changing speed, but the beings inside the _______ will not feel it. And no sensors can measure it. You are really ________ speed, and they are really are not. There's something absolutely real about changes in speed. The same goes for ________. If your spaceship is spinning, you can feel it, and your ship's sensors can measure it. The space station outside may seem to be going around you, but it is you who feels queasy, not the folks in the space station. You are really spinning, and they really are not. There's something absolutely real about rotation. So, some motions are relative, and some are not. There is no deep reality about constant speed, but changes in speed are deeply real, and so are rotations. We have to be thoughtful in our analysis of everyday experience in order to identify what is deeply real. Since we can be fooled by perceptions as basic as speed, maybe every perception deserves careful ________. This is what inspired Einstein to his incredible ________ about the speed of light and forward time travel. Knowing how to identify what is deeply real is _____ and _________ work. If a police _______ ever _____ you over for speeding and asks, "Do you know how fast you were going?" an insightful, though perhaps unwise, reply would be, "Relative to what?" And then, as you sit in the backseat of the police car and feel it accelerate toward jail, you can add, "But some things are absolute!"

Solution

  1. answer
  2. tough
  3. arbitrary
  4. lieutenant
  5. absolute
  6. constant
  7. doubt
  8. speed
  9. sassy
  10. officers
  11. important
  12. correct
  13. fires
  14. pulls
  15. group
  16. tempting
  17. weighs
  18. furrow
  19. local
  20. sensors
  21. realize
  22. measurable
  23. scrutiny
  24. insights
  25. captain
  26. moves
  27. standard
  28. measurement
  29. subordinate
  30. space
  31. changing
  32. moving
  33. speeds
  34. meaning
  35. officer
  36. quantity
  37. station
  38. relative
  39. starfleet
  40. rotation
  41. ocean
  42. tells

Original Text

How fast are you moving right now? That seems like an easy question. The first tempting answer is, "I'm not moving." Upon further reflection, you realize that maybe the Earth's motion counts. So, a second tempting answer is, "19 miles/second around the Sun." But then you recall learning that the Sun moves around the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and the Milky Way moves within the Local Group of galaxies, and the Local Group moves within the Virgo Cluster, and the Virgo Cluster moves within... "How fast are you moving?" is not an easy question. When Mission Control tells astronauts how fast they're going, there's always an assumed standard of rest. At the start of the voyage, speeds are given relative to the launchpad. But later, when the launchpad is just one more arbritrary place down there on Earth's spinning surface, speeds are given relative to the idealized, non-spinning pinpoint center of Earth. On their way to the Moon, Apollo astronauts had a hard time answering the question, "How fast are you moving?" Speed away from Earth was one thing, and speed toward the Moon was quite another. That's because the Earth and the Moon move relative to one another. Ah, of course! Speed is a relative quantity. When Captain Kirk ask Lieutenant Sulu if the Starship Enterprise has reached a speed of warp 7, Sulu should reply, "Relative to what, Captain?" Such a sassy reply may get subordinate Starfleet officers in trouble, but it is the only good answer to the question, "How fast are you moving?" This is basic relatively talking. Not fancy Einsteinian relativity, but good old fashioned (and still correct) Galilean relativity. Galileo seems to have been the first person to realize that there is no such thing as an absolute speed. Speeds are relative. This means that speeds only have meaning when they are referred to a reference frame. Presumably that reference frame is itself at rest. But then we have to ask again, "At rest relative to what?" Because even the concept of rest has lost any hint of absolute meaning. Speed is relative, and rest is relative. Earth's speed is 19 miles/second relative to the Sun. The Enterprise's speed is warp 7 relative to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Your speed is zero relative to your easy chair. But depending on where you sit, it is hundreds of miles/hour relative to Earth's center. When we furrow a brow and ask, "But how fast is Earth really moving?" we imagine Spaceship Earth plowing through the ocean of space as it orbits the Sun. But space is not an ocean. It has no substance as water does. Space is not a thing; space is nothing. Space is no thing. You can move between two points in space, say between Earth and Mars, but you can't move through space. There's nothing to move through. It's like trying to say how much a hole weighs. A hole weighs exactly nothing because a hole is nothing. It's a void, and so is space. To move relative to nothing is meaningless. The concepts of speed and of rest have only relative meaning. They are absolutely meaningless. They mean something only with respect to arbitrarily chosen, artificial frames of reference. If, someday, you are buckled into your spaceship, and you see from the side window, say, a space station whizz by at constant speed, there is no way to know which of you is really moving. Neither of you is really moving because there is no deep reality about constant speed. Constant speed in a straight line has only relative meaning, a kind of relative reality. Does this mean that all motion is relative? No! Some motions have only relative meaning, but some motions have absolute meaning, are absolutely real. For example, constant speed is relative, but change in speed is absolute. Calling something absolute in science means that arbitrary standards are not used in its measurement. It is unambiguously measurable. When your spaceship fires its engines, your change in speed is beyond doubt. You feel it in your stomach, and your ship's sensors can measure it. Outside your window, the passing space station may seem to be changing speed, but the beings inside the station will not feel it. And no sensors can measure it. You are really changing speed, and they are really are not. There's something absolutely real about changes in speed. The same goes for rotation. If your spaceship is spinning, you can feel it, and your ship's sensors can measure it. The space station outside may seem to be going around you, but it is you who feels queasy, not the folks in the space station. You are really spinning, and they really are not. There's something absolutely real about rotation. So, some motions are relative, and some are not. There is no deep reality about constant speed, but changes in speed are deeply real, and so are rotations. We have to be thoughtful in our analysis of everyday experience in order to identify what is deeply real. Since we can be fooled by perceptions as basic as speed, maybe every perception deserves careful scrutiny. This is what inspired Einstein to his incredible insights about the speed of light and forward time travel. Knowing how to identify what is deeply real is tough and important work. If a police officer ever pulls you over for speeding and asks, "Do you know how fast you were going?" an insightful, though perhaps unwise, reply would be, "Relative to what?" And then, as you sit in the backseat of the police car and feel it accelerate toward jail, you can add, "But some things are absolute!"

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
space station 4
constant speed 3
absolutely real 3
easy question 2
tempting answer 2
local group 2
move relative 2
reference frame 2
hole weighs 2
deep reality 2
deeply real 2

Important Words

  1. absolute
  2. absolutely
  3. accelerate
  4. add
  5. ah
  6. analysis
  7. answer
  8. answering
  9. apollo
  10. arbitrarily
  11. arbitrary
  12. arbritrary
  13. artificial
  14. asks
  15. assumed
  16. astronauts
  17. backseat
  18. basic
  19. beings
  20. brow
  21. buckled
  22. calling
  23. captain
  24. car
  25. careful
  26. center
  27. chair
  28. change
  29. changing
  30. chosen
  31. cluster
  32. concept
  33. concepts
  34. constant
  35. control
  36. correct
  37. counts
  38. deep
  39. deeply
  40. depending
  41. deserves
  42. doubt
  43. earth
  44. easy
  45. einstein
  46. einsteinian
  47. engines
  48. enterprise
  49. everyday
  50. experience
  51. fancy
  52. fashioned
  53. fast
  54. feel
  55. feels
  56. fires
  57. folks
  58. fooled
  59. frame
  60. frames
  61. furrow
  62. galaxies
  63. galaxy
  64. galilean
  65. galileo
  66. good
  67. group
  68. hard
  69. hint
  70. hole
  71. hundreds
  72. idealized
  73. identify
  74. imagine
  75. important
  76. incredible
  77. insightful
  78. insights
  79. inspired
  80. jail
  81. kind
  82. kirk
  83. knowing
  84. launchpad
  85. learning
  86. lieutenant
  87. light
  88. line
  89. local
  90. lost
  91. mars
  92. meaning
  93. meaningless
  94. means
  95. measurable
  96. measure
  97. measurement
  98. milky
  99. mission
  100. moon
  101. motion
  102. motions
  103. move
  104. moves
  105. moving
  106. ocean
  107. officer
  108. officers
  109. orbits
  110. order
  111. passing
  112. perception
  113. perceptions
  114. person
  115. pinpoint
  116. place
  117. plowing
  118. points
  119. police
  120. pulls
  121. quantity
  122. queasy
  123. question
  124. reached
  125. real
  126. reality
  127. realize
  128. recall
  129. reference
  130. referred
  131. reflection
  132. relative
  133. relativity
  134. reply
  135. respect
  136. rest
  137. rotation
  138. rotations
  139. sassy
  140. science
  141. scrutiny
  142. sensors
  143. side
  144. sit
  145. space
  146. spaceship
  147. speed
  148. speeding
  149. speeds
  150. spinning
  151. standard
  152. standards
  153. starfleet
  154. starship
  155. start
  156. station
  157. stomach
  158. straight
  159. subordinate
  160. substance
  161. sulu
  162. sun
  163. surface
  164. talking
  165. tells
  166. tempting
  167. thoughtful
  168. time
  169. tough
  170. travel
  171. trouble
  172. unambiguously
  173. unwise
  174. virgo
  175. void
  176. voyage
  177. warp
  178. water
  179. weighs
  180. whizz
  181. window
  182. work