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New theory describes faster than light travel, could explain CERN's results

Some of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century, including Albert Einstein, consider the speed of light a sort of universal "speed limit".  But over the past couple decades physicists theorized that it should be possible to break this law and get away with it -- to travel faster than the speed of light.

I. CERN Results Potentially Described

One of several possible routes to faster-than-light travel was potentially demonstrated when researchers at CERN, the European physics organization known for maintaining the Large Hadron Collider, sent high-energy particles through the Earth's crust from Geneva, Switzerland to INFN Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy.  In a result that is today highly controversial, the team claimed that the particles were observed travelling in excess of the speed of light.

Now physics theory may finally be catching up.  Math researchers at the University of Adelaide -- located in the middle South of Australia -- have developed new formulas to describe the relationship between energy, mass, and velocity (which incorporates length and time) for objects traveling faster than the speed of light.  The formulas modify Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity, a fundamental pillar of our understanding of the universe.

Einstein Theory of Special Relativity
Einstein formulated his Theory of Special Relativity in 1905. [Image Source: AP]

Math professor Jim Hill, a co-author of the paper writes, "Questions have since been raised over the experimental results [from CERN] but we were already well on our way to successfully formulating a theory of special relativity, applicable to relative velocities in excess of the speed of light."

He elaborates, "Our approach is a natural and logical extension of the Einstein Theory of Special Relativity, and produces anticipated formulae without the need for imaginary numbers or complicated physics."

The study's other co-author, Dr. Barry Cox, adds, "We are mathematicians, not physicists, so we've approached this problem from a theoretical mathematical perspective... Our paper doesn't try and explain how this could be achieved, just how equations of motion might operate in such regimes."

II. Placating the Critics

The authors obviously recognize the controversy surrounding both experimental and theoretical work regarding challenging the light speed limitation attached to the special theory of relativity.  Write the authors in the abstract, "In this highly controversial topic, our particular purpose is not to enter into the merits of existing theories, but rather to present a succinct and carefully reasoned account of a new aspect of Einstein's theory of special relativity, which properly allows for faster than light motion."

Hyperlightspeed travel
Many believe faster-than-light travel may be possible. [Image Source: LucasFilm, Ltd.]

The paper proposes two sets of equations -- one based on an invariant set of "frame transitions", the other based on a "frame transition" with the invariance limitation removed.  The authors suspect that if faster than light travel is possible, that the physical behavior of the faster-than-light travelling object is described by one of these equations.

Note, such work is relatively independent from forms of faster-than-light travel that do not violate Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity, such as warping space via a massive energy source.

The paper was published [abstract] in the prestigious peer-reviews journal The Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Source: RSPA

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RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By wordsworm on 10/12/2012 8:27:32 PM , Rating: 1
What it travels through, however, does change the speed of light.

I do believe you can see the same effect using the speed of sound. No matter how fast you go, you won't make sound travel any faster. However, to make the leap to say that nothing can go faster than sound is as silly as saying that nothing can travel faster than light. I don't mean any disrespect to Albert.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By melgross on 10/12/2012 11:22:44 PM , Rating: 5
You can say that if you don't know physics, with all due respect to you. The speed of light in a vacuum is the quickest light can travel at. Light travels more slowly in other mediums.

Comparing any of this to the speed of sound is an irrelevant comparison, as one thing has nothing to do with another.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By wordsworm on 10/13/2012 12:39:17 AM , Rating: 3
I know BBT and GTR fairly well. They're not particularly complicated. The comparison isn't irrelevant. Light and sound have many similar properties. They are both waves. Neither wave can be accelerated by physically moving the emitter. Both can be used to convey the passage of time. Both experience frequency acceleration and deceleration depending on the relative speed/direction of the emitter and the receiver. This is all very basic and easily verified. My only contention is that speed has no effect on time. The only effect it has is on the visual representation of time in exactly the same way that the sound of time can be affected. I contend that time itself is not bent. Interestingly enough, my theory, if it's correct, doesn't make any of Einstein's theories any less valuable. Quite simply, since light does bend and distort, time and visual representations of things is not as it seems. It's all very simple, actually. I find it quite incredible that most physicists still haven't figured it out.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By drycrust3 on 10/13/2012 5:04:52 AM , Rating: 2
Both experience frequency acceleration and deceleration depending on the relative speed/direction of the emitter and the receiver.

If you have a moving object that emits light, e.g. a star, then obviously the movement of the object affects the frequency of light. The question, though, is does the frequency increase at the source and maintain a constant C, or does the velocity of light increase in speed by the amount of velocity of the object while maintaining a constant frequency? Einstein would say the former is the correct answer, i.e. the frequency of light was increased and the speed remains the same, but is that really the correct answer?
The people in the article have said the speed of light was no longer fixed, so is there an easy way to prove or disprove it?

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By wordsworm on 10/13/2012 11:50:57 AM , Rating: 2
I think the answer to that is quite simple: as one approaches an object, time appears to contract. Thus, if you could watch the clock, it would appear to tick twice as fast. As you left it, it would appear to freeze. (of course, I'm ignoring the red shift, as it would render the object invisible at light speed).

In any case, it would be fun if we could find some way to achieve interstellar travel in my lifetime. While it's hard to conceive, I imagine 150 years ago flight seemed just as unimaginable.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By drycrust3 on 10/13/2012 6:46:58 PM , Rating: 2
as one approaches an object, time appears to contract. Thus, if you could watch the clock, it would appear to tick twice as fast.

Of course, that is exactly what one would expect. What you don't expect is that the received light is also travelling at c, but as I understand Einstein, that is exactly what happens.
So we have two space ships, both moving towards each other, one with a digital clock that can be seen by the other. According to Einstein the light from the digital clock departs the first one at exactly c, and when seen by a recipient on the other space ship, the light is also travelling at exactly c. To me, this violates the laws of conservation of energy, maybe the light emitted can be c and not c+v, but how can the light received be also c and not c+v? But that is just my opinion, not that of Einstein.
As I said, there is an easy way to prove Einstein was correct.
As I see it, the frequency of the signal is maintained, not the velocity of light. I realise that is, according to Einstein, wrong, but that is what I think.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By drycrust3 on 10/13/2012 6:58:02 PM , Rating: 2
the frequency of the signal is maintained

by this I mean the nature of the waveform is maintained.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By wordsworm on 10/21/2012 12:14:17 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with everything you said. I think that if you were to hold your hand in front of your face, and travel at the speed of light, you would never see it.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By Reclaimer77 on 10/13/12, Rating: -1
RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By Chaotic42 on 10/14/2012 1:18:42 AM , Rating: 2
If he has some special insight into physics which hasn't been widely discussed, he should publish a paper. I've seen people make these kinds of claims before and it always makes me shake my head. Maybe he's sitting on a revelation and isn't going to publish it, just give an abstract on DailyTech... :P

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By theapparition on 10/15/2012 10:29:57 AM , Rating: 4
There is a Nobel prize for Physics.

Not sure why he'd get the one for Peace.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By wordsworm on 10/21/2012 12:01:07 PM , Rating: 2
Peace prizes are given to random people. That's probably why he said it.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By kowlie on 10/13/2012 7:17:22 PM , Rating: 5
I don't believe you know either of those theories very well (frankly, it seems you don't understand even SR, let alone GR, at all) given your statements. I'm assuming you are trolling.
The big difference between light and sound is that light requires no medium. It is self-propagating. That was one of the results of the M-M experiment. There is no evidence for aether.
Sound can't exist without a medium. It is exactly compression/expansion waves of the medium.

RE: E=m(c+v)^2?
By wordsworm on 10/21/2012 12:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
We do not have the tools necessary to see every facet of the universe, either small or big. In any case, I'm referring to how sound and light describe time.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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