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 'We have broken speed of light' 
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Post 'We have broken speed of light'
Star Trek fans, it's time to get your uniforms ready. :)

Quote:
'We have broken speed of light'
By Nic Fleming, Science Correspondent

A pair of German physicists claim to have broken the speed of light - an achievement that would undermine our entire understanding of space and time.

According to Einstein's special theory of relativity, it would require an infinite amount of energy to propel an object at more than 186,000 miles per second.

However, Dr Gunter Nimtz and Dr Alfons Stahlhofen, of the University of Koblenz, say they may have breached a key tenet of that theory.

The pair say they have conducted an experiment in which microwave photons - energetic packets of light - travelled "instantaneously" between a pair of prisms that had been moved up to 3ft apart.

Being able to travel faster than the speed of light would lead to a wide variety of bizarre consequences.

For instance, an astronaut moving faster than it would theoretically arrive at a destination before leaving.

The scientists were investigating a phenomenon called quantum tunnelling, which allows sub-atomic particles to break apparently unbreakable laws.

Dr Nimtz told New Scientist magazine: "For the time being, this is the only violation of special relativity that I know of."

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Last edited by John on Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:09 pm
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Cool! I want to go back and see a Brontosaurus!

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Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:25 pm
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Wow so Spaceballs was right, we can travel at ludicrous speed??

Seriously though, thanks for the article that was a really interesting read.


Thu Aug 16, 2007 4:02 pm
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Quote:
an achievement that would undermine our entire understanding of space and time.


Our understanding of space and time was undermined as soon as we tried putting them in terms we could understand. ;)


Thu Aug 16, 2007 4:22 pm
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Quote:
For instance, an astronaut moving faster than it would theoretically arrive at a destination before leaving.


What? Time still moves.

The astronaut would arrive before she appeared to leave. That's not the same as arriving before leaving.

By the way, speeding up a human would likely mean instant death, but a photon is already travelling at the speed of light, as it is a light particle.

On a side note, I wonder how close we would have to come to Jupiter before being crushed by gravity.

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Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:14 pm
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Post Re: 'We have broken speed of light'
John wrote:
Star Trek fans, it's time to get your uniforms ready. :)

Quote:
'We have broken speed of light'

Dr Nimtz told New Scientist magazine: "For the time being, this is the only violation of special relativity that I know of."

LINK


Pretty cool. But you're right, John. Someone ought to get this Nimtz a TV. I grew up with warp speed every afternoon from four to five PM (yeah, I didn't start watching the show until it went into re-runs, which was still back in the 60s).


Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:17 pm
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Minniman wrote:
Quote:
For instance, an astronaut moving faster than it would theoretically arrive at a destination before leaving.


What? Time still moves.

The astronaut would arrive before she appeared to leave. That's not the same as arriving before leaving.

By the way, speeding up a human would likely mean instant death, but a photon is already travelling at the speed of light, as it is a light particle.

On a side note, I wonder how close we would have to come to Jupiter before being crushed by gravity.


Maybe we could transport a recorder of some kind attached to a really (really really really) powerful telescope and take pictures of the earth from the past, that'd be awesome.

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Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:34 pm
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Minniman wrote:

On a side note, I wonder how close we would have to come to Jupiter before being crushed by gravity.


I have a couple of ideas of who we could send to test it! ;)

Seriously, though, the misconception that exceeding the speed of light would allow time travel is rooted in folks erroneously leaving out the words, "appear to someone standing in a fixed spot", as Minniman said. So, you're not really time traveling but it would seem to someone standing still as if you were. Kind of a paradox.

One of the most interesting meditations on time travel is the movie, Primer. Here is the Wikipedia entry for this very confusing and thought provoking movie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primer_(film)

The long standing question, "If you were traveling faster then the speed of light, and you turned on your headlights, would anything happen?", can be answered, "Yes. But to someone standing in a fixed spot, it would appear that they came on before you turned them on." No one is sure of the effect relativity has on the body traveling faster than the speed of light. I imagine some of the theories are as odd as the theories that hypothesized what would happen to a person when they broke the sound barrier.

Time travel would involve breaking just about every law of physics.

However, fast travel through space is the one thing that is tantalizing.

BGM

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Fri Aug 17, 2007 5:04 pm
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Quote:
According to Einstein's special theory of relativity, it would require an infinite amount of energy to propel an object at more than 186,000 miles per second.


That is because mass increases as a particle approaches the speed of light.

Quote:
The pair say they have conducted an experiment in which microwave photons - energetic packets of light - travelled "instantaneously" between a pair of prisms that had been moved up to 3ft apart.


A photon has no mass, so even if it was sent faster than the speed of light, it would gain no mass as an multiplier of zero is still zero. Humans, on the other hand, are made of of atoms, and atoms have mass, so this would likely not work with humans or even with a speck of dust.

By the way, I still find that many people are bewildered when I say that we see stars that have been born, lived billions of years, and have exploded and died. They just cannot see how light, time, and the vastness of space make this possible.

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Sat Aug 18, 2007 9:09 pm
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S197 wrote:
Wow so Spaceballs was right, we can travel at ludicrous speed??


Yes, but did they go to plaid?

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Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:38 pm
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I;m glad there are some smart people on this board. Or at least people capable of "dumbing down" the scientific jargon.

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Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:54 pm
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