The maximum clock-speed of the universe – Thank you Anant Dixit!

In an earlier posting, discussing time dilation, I suggested that one way of understanding the speed of light is to think of it as the maximum clock-speed of the universe.

Interested to see what professionals had to say I did a bit of googling and realized that, although on the right track, I had things wrong. The speed of light is, quite reasonably a measure of velocity, whereas clock speed is a measure of frequency – the unit being Hertz.

The following gets it right and is quite beautiful – although not in the league of Salma Hayak.

Planck time (…) is the time taken by light to travel a distance of one Planck length.

Thus, t_P=\frac{l_P}{c}=\sqrt{\frac{\hbar G}{c^5}}=5.39\times 10^{-44}s

This is (until proven otherwise) the smallest measurable time interval in our universe. At time scales smaller than this, it is impossible to measure or detect any change. This would be an appropriate “cycle” for a computer to update all information in the simulated universe.

The speed of light is the maximum rate of flow of “information” through the universe. It cannot be a “cycle” for this reason. Planck time however can act as a computer cycle. After every Planck time, the information is updated throughout the universe. The rate at which this information flows through the universe is capped at the speed of light.

You can find this at

You can read more from the creator of the above quoted math/poetry at:

Now aren’t you glad we got that sorted out! 🙂


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