Faster Than Light
“If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light,” asks comedian Steven Wright, “And you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?” Good question.
Recent research at the has recorded tiny particles, neutrinos, as having travelled faster than light. This has been a revelation for numerous groups of people: astro physicists, quantum physicists, science fiction writers, religious leaders, time travellers and flat worlders. It is a revolutionary discovery and one that brings all sorts of possibilities to mind.
The first thing that comes up is, “Now we can time travel!” In fact in some articles it was mentioned that this was a dangerous possibility. We really could go back and kill Hitler. And Hitler could come to Disney World.
In fact, we can no more travel in time at light speed than we can at the speed of sound. The universal constant is a speed limit, not a time machine. I’ve always thought someone could go faster than light. It’s just that they were going so fast we couldn’t see them. They could have been racing around the universes for eons and we’d never know it.
In February of 1984 a supernova flared in the sky. This was light that traveled millions of miles for years and years. Scientists were excited that they had the opportunity study such phenomena. But now the speed of these superluminal neutrinos has been calculated and astrophysicists are looking for a neutrino burst from the nova approximately four years prior, or the speed that faster than light neutrinos would have traveled in advance of the light. Does that mean the neutrinos time traveled? No, it means they went faster than 67,061,662.92 mph, that’s all. No time travel, just a ticket from the light speed police.
Einstein’s equations posited that as an object approached light speed it’s mass increased exponentially. That means for an object to attain light speed it would attain infinite mass. Since infinite mass is unattainable, nothing could go at or past the speed of light. Coincidentally, neutrinos have no mass, so you can take a zero all the way to infinity and it’s still a zero. So that solves the infinite mass dilemma. I doubt seriously an object could reach infinite mass anyway because as it approached that state, it would form a black hole. I would think the speed of the atoms being sucked into the center of one would come closest to light speed as they are racing into a growing, concentrated mass. Of course we’ll never know as light cannot escape from that type of gravitational well. We can only watch the suns set on the event horizon.
However, if black holes were collecting all matter, they would soon swallow up the universe. So what happens in a black hole? That’s for our next little thought journey.
Posted on October 2, 2011, in astrophysics, atom, black hole, CERN, Disney, Einstein, FTL, Hitler, light, light speed, mass, neutrino, nova, Physics, Steven Wright, sub molecular, super collider, supernova, Time, travel, Uncategorized, universe. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.