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 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."

_{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.