Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Physics IV: Can a person move at 0.99c?

I have tens of these questions ready to use here so this series will likely go on for a long time. Part of my strategy for posting each one separately is to get me into the habit of writing regular posts. While these first few are, or should be, relatively simple I promise the difficulty will increase. I have a full line of questions on vector algebra that I guarantee, or at least hope, will not be so simple. It’s not that they’re inherently difficult, but rather that we omit these issues from introductory courses where they should be present and part of a solid conceptual foundation.

This series continues with another question that ties together reference frames and special relativity. It’s a two part question, and the parts may seem almost contradictory given what we typically tell students, or better what they read for themselves, about special relativity.

Under what conditions could a person be observed moving at 0.99c? On the other hand, in what sense is it correct to say that a person, as well as any other material object, always moves at precisely c? Carefully distinguish between these two situations.


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