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We Have Broken Speed Of Light
Posted: 17 August 2007 02:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
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‘We have broken speed of light’

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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Posted: 17 August 2007 02:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Here’s a response to that article. It’s all physics talk, which I don’t understand much of.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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“Send out the David B. signal!”

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Posted: 17 August 2007 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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“Holey vacuum (when using the Dirac theory of antimatter), Boltz-Man, it’s the ‘Quantum Light’!”

All light is quantum boy-Llama, you know that!”

“No, the ‘Quantum Light’! The one that calls us to action!”

“By Einstein’s tongue, you’re right! Perhaps the evil Schroedinger has fielded another fiendish feline themed threat to our furry friends!”

“Or maybe ‘The Entangler’ has returned to perpetrate another paradoxical particulate problem to physics with his preternatural pair phenomena?!”

“(Don’t upstage the show’s star, son!) To the Boltz-mobile!”

[Later]

“Hey, Boltz-Man, this isn’t the way to the Chief of Physics Police’s office! Where the Hilbert are we?!”

“I don’t know, boy-Llama, I’ve been watching our speed this whole time!”

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Posted: 17 August 2007 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Dr Nimtz told New Scientist magazine: “For the time being, this is the only violation of special relativity that I know of.”

Okay, I think I see the problem (*cough* flying cars *cough*).

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Posted: 17 August 2007 09:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Pffft breaking the speed of light is nothing.

Last time my mates were out they text me to say there was this particular girl there that we knew and that she was looking for me. Speed of light? I was at the pub before they even text me!


That big Star Wars-esque hyperspace thing on Bell St. was pretty funky though. Not too sure I liked that.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Interestingly, Dr. Nimtz has a book coming out in December on this very subject…

“Zero Time Space: How quantum tunneling broke the light speed barrier”
by G

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Posted: 17 August 2007 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’ve been trying to locate a particular paper on this topic, and I think I just have, but it’s subscription only.

[quote author=“Physics World - November 1993”]Abstract

The time taken for a single photon to tunnel through a potential energy barrier has been measured for the first time. Surprisingly, perhaps, the photon appears to tunnel through the barrier faster than an identical photon travelling through free space. However, closer scrutiny shows that this apparently superluminal velocity is not in conflict with the theory of relativity.

[Totally superfluous link to IOP archive]

So yes, the photons may have moved faster than light, but no, this does not break special relativity. See also papers by Paul Davies and Herbert Winful, which say much the same thing.

I’ve not been able to find enough detail on the experiment to really look into it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out this apparent FTL transit was actually due to a different and well understood phenomenon like group or phase velocity.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Phew, and here I was worried that we might have broken the speed of light so badly that we couldn’t fix it with Crazy Glue and Duct Tape…

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Posted: 17 August 2007 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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That’s okay, we could still have used Elmer’s.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The response seems to clear it out.
In this response, it’s said that light can’t go faster than light, this would be like sound breaking the sound-barrier. It can be done if you just change the medium, but then you also change the maximum speed of sound.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I always wanted to break the sound barrier with really, really loud rock music.

I’d like to be able to think that if anything breaks the sound barrier, it’d be Motorhead.

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