How Far Green Car?

Published on March 13th, 2011
A car that is green with grass.

Quick question: I lift a green car up off the ground 5 feet (I've been working out and have Hulk-like strength apparently) and then drop it to the ground...  how far did the car move? If you answered 5 feet, you're wrong... or right, depending on the context. In the 0.55 seconds it took to see it move 5 feet in our frame of reference, the earth was moving at 67,000 miles per hour around the sun. So from the sun's perspective the ball moved approximately 53,800 feet as well. This of course ignores the additional effects of the earths rotation and elliptical orbit, but you get the general idea.

But let's not forget that our solar system itself is moving relative to the rest of the systems in the Milky way. And that the milky way itself is rotating at an ever faster rate. From some fixed point in space, that green car is moving at an unbelievable speed (upwards to 500,000 miles per hour) even when it's appears to just be sitting stationary on the ground in front of us.

So how far did the green car move? The answer depends on the context or (in physics lingo) the assumptions, premises, frame of reference, and etc. The greater message is to never accept a 'truth' or an apparent truth at face value. What's true for you and your beliefs may not be true for someone else... and maybe in searching you can find an even higher truth that you didn't even know existed.

Postscript

It's funny how what is an epiphany to one is something old hat for someone else. But we're all at different stages on the learning path of life. As soon as I finished this article, I found a similar one published about 4 years ago. It's more in depth and helps further put it in perspective.

 

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.