Related to my prior question: Would it be possible to develop special relativity without knowing about light?

Imagine a species insensate to light and other em radiation. They are very attuned to sound however. Might they conclude that any transmission of information faster than sound violated causality? For example, a bullet impacts a person, then a second later they hear the sound. Might this situation suggest to such a species that causation had been violated?


No, because it is possible for objects to travel through air (or water) faster than the local speed of sound in the air or water. The second they observed a shock wave or a sonic boom, they could start developing a physics of faster-than-sound travel.

Meanwhile, special relativity could be developed solely from a complete knowledge of electricity and magnetism without directly observing light.

  • $\begingroup$ Study of electricity and magnetism needs light already and actually light is part of it and vice versa. Your argument needs more details. $\endgroup$ – Asphir Dom Sep 2 '12 at 11:48
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    $\begingroup$ Historically, a careful study of electric and magnetic forces predicted that those forces would give rise to waves, and happenstance dictated that those waves would be light, not vice versa. $\endgroup$ – Jerry Schirmer Sep 2 '12 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ You will not be able to study this fields what you call "carefully" without having eyes. Because light give's you means to build first precise measurment techniques. We are talking about ALIENS who does not see light. Your statement implies that you see well how to do it with just sound. $\endgroup$ – Asphir Dom Sep 2 '12 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ @AsphirDom: tell that to the blind people I know. Hands, and a sophisticated hearing are plenty, especially if you are adapted to that. $\endgroup$ – Jerry Schirmer Sep 2 '12 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ Misunderstanding. I did not say its impossble. I just said its not OBVIOUS. Blind people is not good example, since they know that light exists and their picture of universe is essentialy ours. Spicies who start only with sound will have something truly different. This is what im saying. $\endgroup$ – Asphir Dom Sep 2 '12 at 19:44

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