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Why light doesn't need a long time to travel.

Being a hard coire YEC and young universe believer, I receive much scorn on these discussions for believing the universe is only 6-10K years old. Of course the biggest slam is how can it be that young when it takes millions and billions of years for light to travel to us from distant space. Well without resorting to YEC reports which most reject as non science I post the following which is well established in astronomy.

The Problem

Light, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, will travel about 6 trillion miles in one year. This distance is called one light-year. There are galaxies that are alleged to be billions of light-years distant from us in space. This means that the light, which left the galaxies 5 billion years ago, should just now be reaching us. This would seem to indicate that the Universe and the creation must be at least 5 billion years old or else we wouldn't be seeing this light. In other words, if the stars were only 6 - 10,000 years old, the light from these distant galaxies would not have even reached us yet.

Four Possible Solutions

(1) Distances in space cannot be accurately measured. Obviously we cannot stretch a string into outer space or measure these distances with a yardstick, and so distances are calculated, rather than measured. This is accomplished by a technique known as triangulation, or parallax. Surveyors use this method using the laws of trigonometry which state that if the baseline and two angles of a triangle are known, then the height of that triangle can be calculated.

Short distances of a few hundred thousand miles can be measured by triangulating the simultaneous observations of observatories on opposite sides of the earth, but as the ratio of the unknown to the known distance increases, the baseline angles become greater and greater, so that beyond an altitude-to-baseline ratio of 28.5 to 1, the angle becomes greater than 89ยบ and must be further divided into minutes and seconds of arc. The limitations of this method are evident even within our own solar system, as the apex angle to our sun would be only 10 seconds of arc (1/360 of a degree). The distances to even the nearest stars are so great that a greater triangulational baseline is needed, and so the earth's orbit around our sun is used, allowing a baseline of about 186 million miles. Sightings are taken 6 months apart, the angles are compared, and the distance is computed with trigonometry.

Because the distances to the stars are so great, the sides of the triangle are virtually perpendicular and so only the nearest stars (up to about 200 light-years) can be measured by this technique. For example, our sun is 8 light minutes from us, so the baseline of the triangle would be 16 light minutes. But our nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is 4 1/2 light-years or 2,365,000 light minutes from earth, for a ratio of approximately 148,000 to 1. At that ratio, an 8 1/2" line drawn across this page would have the apex of its triangle 20 miles away!

Greater distances are determined by the presumed sizes and intensity of stars, red shift, and many questionable factors which may have nothing whatever to do with distance. 1 In fact, some astronomers feel that it is possible that the entire universe could fit into an area within a 200 light-year radius from the earth! Therefore, there is no guarantee that the actual distances in space are as great as we have been told, and light from the farthest point in the universe could have reached us in only a few hundred years.

(2) Light may take a "shortcut" as it travels through space. This is difficult to illustrate, but suffice it to say that there are two concepts of the "shape" of outer space. One is that it is straight-line (Euclidean), and the other is that it is curved (Riemannian). Based on observations of 27 binary star systems, it appears that light in deep space travels in curved paths on Riemannian surfaces. 2

The formula for converting straight-line to curved space is:


where r is the Euclidean or straight-line distance, and R is the radius of curvature of Riemannian space. Using this formula, and a radius of curvature of 5 light-years for Riemannian space, the time for light to reach us from points in our own solar system is practically the same for either Euclidean or Riemannian distances, and there is not much of a change even out to the nearest star (4 1/2 light-years). But if we insert an infinite Euclidean distance for the farthest conceivable star, it would take only 15.71 years for light to reach us from that distance! The following table gives an idea of the distance-to-time conversions:

Euclidean Distance
in light years
Riemannian Distance
in Actual Time
.997 years
Notice that, by the nature of the formula, the upper limit in time in Riemannian space has a definite limit, and even if the radius of curvature is modified by new discoveries, it will never get very large.

Conclusion: It appears that light may take a "shortcut" as it travels through deep space, and even if we grant that the uniformitarian distances are valid, the time for light to get here from the uttermost part of the universe would be only about 15 years.

If light travels in Riemannian space then even galaxies and stars 15 bly away, its light will still only take 16 years to get here.
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