What would you see if you could travel at the speed of light? © Getty Images

Why does light travel faster than sound?

Asked by: Toby Graham, Shrewsbury

According to Einstein’s Special Relativity, the speed of light has a unique status: it’s a fundamental feature of our Universe, representing the maximum speed at which information can travel from place to place. As such, nothing can match the 300,000km/s achieved by light travelling through a vacuum – least of all sound, which being waves of compression and expansion in a substance doesn’t even exist in a vacuum.


That said, light can be slowed down by being passed through transparent materials – by around 33 per cent in the case of glass. Even so, it still zooms through glass around 50,000 times faster than sound waves.

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