Conceptual Physics (12th Edition)

Published by Addison-Wesley
ISBN 10: 0321909100
ISBN 13: 978-0-32190-910-7

Chapter 36 - Think and Explain: 28

Answer

Light does bend, but for surveying purposes, we say that light effectively travels in a straight line.

Work Step by Step

The bending of light due to gravity is unnoticeable for short distances. The path of a photon bends downward just as the path of a thrown baseball does, by the same distance in the same time interval. However, light travels so fast (roughly a foot per nanosecond) that in traveling a 1000-meter survey distance, taking a time of $t = 3.3 \times 10^{-6} s$, it would only drop about $5.4 \times 10^{-11} m$, roughly the size of an atom.
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