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Thread: Curved LASER beam?

  1. #1 Curved LASER beam? 
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    If you shine a powerful, focused LASER beam horizontally over a long distance parallel to the earth, will it curve perfectly with the earth's surface?
    Or, will it get higher above the ground the further away it is, as it goes straight and the earth curves?


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  3. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy View Post
    If you shine a powerful, focused LASER beam horizontally over a long distance parallel to the earth, will it curve perfectly with the earth's surface?
    Or, will it get higher above the ground the further away it is, as it goes straight and the earth curves?
    It will go relatively straight. It will curve very slightly due to spacetime distortion caused by the Earth's gravity, but it will not come anywhere near to following the curve of the Earth.


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    The laser light would bend a little, but that would be due to refraction from the atmosphere. There would be slight bending of the light due to gravity but considering that the sun bends light by only 1/3600 of a degree and has surface gravity about 28 times that of the earth it would be very tiny, and completely swamped by the atmospheric refraction. Earth bent starlight could be measured in space but then at a greater distance, with less gravity so would need very accurate measurement to detect, though it would be possible. To be more correct, the light doesn't bend at all, it travels in a straight line and it is space that curves, but talking in terms of gravity works well enough in this instance.
    Last edited by Rarry; August 24th, 2017 at 08:49 AM.
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