Is it really Possible for us To Travel Faster than Light?


The world has definitely come to a fast pace in terms of daily living, but what is the fastest speed that everyone in the universe can go to? Can we go beyond that? That’s what we’re gonna find out in today’s Article! Is it really possible to get something to move to the tune of the fastest speed of the universe, the speed of light? Well, we know that there aren’t any intergalactic police to monitor whether or not we’re going beyond the universal speed limit, but what exactly is preventing us from going beyond this anyway? These are two heavy questions that we will answer today, but I wanna know what you guys think about these? Do you think we can go faster than the speed of light? Or do you think it’s pretty much impossible? I know a lot of you already have the right answer to this. So how about we define first the speed of light so that we don’t get all confused by the variances? First and foremost, at least in the spirit of this video, when we say the speed of light is constant, the speed of light that we are talking about here has two main characteristics. First, this is the speed of light in uninterrupted space or vacuum. Second, we are talking about the speed of light in an unchanged space-time or a flat space-time. Basically how we would normally see space, absent from the effects of other factors. In case this is the first time you are hearing all about this, the speed of light is estimated to be 299 792 458 m/s, or around 3 times 10 to the eighth meters per second. If you’re not a fan of the metric or residing in the USA that’s around 186282 miles per second. One of the earliest experiments leading to the concept of the speed of light being constant is done by one of the biggest names in Physics, Galileo. This is how his experiment went. He and an assistant, which we will name Vinny for the sake of the story, would stand at the top of two hills, carrying each a light source which would most probably be a lamp, considering the time of the experiment. The lamp would be completely covered, with a shutter to effectively “flash” light. Galileo would then remove the shutter, which would be the signal for Vinny to remove his as well. Then, Galileo would record the time he saw the flash. He then repeated the same experiment and found out that no matter how far he went, he records the same time as the flash. At that point, he concluded that light must either be really, really fast or that it is constant. To which the latter sounds extremely ridiculous at that time. Why? Stay tuned to find out. And come 1676, Ole Roemer verified that the speed of light is indeed constant by observing the moons, Jupiter. However, this fact gets highlighted hundreds of years later when a brilliant mind named Albert Einstein came up with his paper in the theory of relativity: one of the most important and groundbreaking publications in Physics in the history of mankind! So far, at least. To be able to understand his point, we need to first understand how relativity is defined in a classical sense. For instance, say that you are riding a train moving at a constant speed, let’s call that speed “v”, and one friend of yours is looking at you outside of the train on the platform. This friend of yours has really fantastic eyesight, so any little movement of yours, he can see absolutely clearly Okay, at this point, let’s say you decided to be playful. You wanted to test his vision. So what do you do? You fished out something from your pocket and then threw it towards the front of the train. Say, this object that you threw has a speed that we will call “s”. Take note that “s” is how you think the speed is going. Your friend on the platform, acknowledging your action will see it differently. From his perspective, the speed of the object is “v” plus “s”. This is classical relativity. When conditions in the universe are pretty much static, for lack of a better word, we are bound to see these events. So, okay, what exactly makes Einstein’s take on relativity more special than the classical one? In his theory, he stated that it’s not really because of the statics of the universe that gives us these laws of physics that we observe. According to him, as long as our frames of references are moving at a constant velocity, we expect the laws of physics to stay the same. Whether we’re in a room, or a train moving at the same speed throughout its trip, in a spacecraft. We expect that we are restricted by the same laws. In his paper, he categorized these frames of reference to be inertial, as a nod to the Law of Inertia by Newton. Remember what that says? In a very short summary, it says that all objects tend to keep their state of motion, whether it be moving or non-moving, until it is interrupted by an outside force. Pretty neat, right? How do inertial frames of reference relate to the constancy of the speed of light? Let’s go back to the train, you, and your friend. Let’s make everything cosmic, and absolutely ideal, for all intents and purposes: the materials don’t experience stress, your condition inside the train doesn’t change, your friend’s vision is unadulterated, etc. Every condition we placed is achievable, let’s agree. Your friend is standing on a cosmic platform in space, well-protected with an astronomical gear of course, and now, he is looking at you sitting inside a train accelerating at the speed of light. Now, you’re sitting quietly on the train and you realized you gotta pee! And the toilet in this cosmic train is near the driver. For some strange reason. So you gotta act on this. You stand up, you try to semi-sprint to the front of the train. Now, let’s go to your friend with a hawk-eye. What does he see? If you recall classical relativity’s approach to this, whatever speed your friend sees you move will eventually become more than the speed of light, right? So did we do it? Did we violate the laws of nature? The answer is no. Here is where Einstein’s genius really shines brightest. According to him, if you actually move at the speed of light, you will experience three things: a compression of length, slowing down of time, and a severe increase of mass. So if we go back to your friend on the platform, here’s what he will see. As you approach the speed of light, he will see that you are moving extremely slowly until you stop, as you are experiencing time dilation. Moreover, the train will compress in length shorter and shorter. Eventually, to your friend on the platform, you’ll disappear suddenly, since you practically have zero length. No length, no time, and infinite mass. I bet at this point, you can already see how this would be problematic, right? To get something to move with infinite mass, you need an equally infinite amount of energy. This violates conservation laws. Not adding the problem of what having “zero” time means, as that is a violation of thermodynamic laws. And this is not purely theoretical too. You can get the math done and see that whatever you do, your equation will end up with “c”, the speed limit. This is a groundbreaking statement, like back before Einstein, the consensus that different frames of reference will have different laws of physics. Our dear Albert crushed all of that with a single blow: by defining the speed of light as a universal constant. So, I’m sorry, to those who thought we can travel faster than the speed of light, but the answer is a resounding “No.” However, there are some “glitches” in the universe to this rule. A ray of hope? Let’s find out. For instance, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard sometime around 2011 that neutrinos may have possibly gone beyond the speed of light. However, this is later found out to be a bad reading by instruments in the OPERA project. So let’s scratch that one out. Another example is something that we callCerenkov radiation. It works this way. The speed of light retains its value as long as it’s going through a vacuum. However, when it goes through a transparent medium, it slows down. This phenomenon is more popularly known as refraction. So, knowing this, you can go faster than the speed of light by firing a charged electron that would be faster through the material. Oh, and the electron emits radiation, by the way. Hence the name, Cerenkov’s radiation. But we didn’t technically go beyond the number we aim to at this approach, didn’t we? The speed of the electron is still below 300,000,000m/s. So what else can we try? There is also quantum entanglement. This is an extremely complicated topic to talk about, but in essence, and I would even add this description I will say severely oversimplifies it. So, we can sort of set up a pair of particles, such that their properties are complimentary with one another. Let’s say this property is spin for instance. We can set up two particles such that one has a spin up, while the other a spin down property, and have these particles “entangled” in a way. What that means is that, say I take the spindown particle to another galaxy. If I change that property to spin up, that will instantaneously affect the other particle to reverse its spin. If it happens that quick and that instant, then it has to be faster than the speed of light, right? Einstein, back at it again, labeled this phenomenon as “spooky action at a distance”. No one knows why this happens, but this is certainly an observable phenomenon! Does it bring us closer to beating the speed of light? We don’t know yet! Okay, what else can we try? How about another suggestion from Einstein? If you’re a fan of science fiction stuff, you definitely have already heard about wormholes! But in case you haven’t, these are effectively points in spacetime which serves as some kind of shortcut. Say, for instance, we have two points in a paper that we drew at the top and bottom. If we want to connect these two, we would draw a line, right? But if we can fold the paper such that these two points touch, then we went faster! Again, this is another cheat, as we needed to violate the spacetime, on which light travels. But hey, if we can get this running in reality, right? But to top off the show, let’s talk about something that’s actually faster than the speed of light that we have observed to occur in nature. According to observations done by astronomers, some galaxies are moving away from us at rates that are way faster than the speed of light. How come astronomers observe this to be happening? Let’s take a hint from the wormhole instance. Remember how we practically cheated by instead of racing with light, we folded the running field instead? This is pretty much a parallel variation of that. It’s not that galaxies are moving way faster than the speed of light. Remember, if something does that, there are consequences, such as slowing time, shrinking length, and blowing up mass, but we don’t see that happening. What’s actually observed here is the expansion of the universe. This is what’s moving faster than the speed of light. To visualize this better, say you made a paper boat, and you carefully placed that boat on a river. You try to be as careful as you can as you do not want to add a force to it such that it moves. However, upon placing it there, it moves anyway. Why did this happen? Because the stream of water itself has an initial speed already! Remember classical relativity? Did you think we already moved on from that? So, basically, the galaxies that we see moving away are like the paper boat, and the river is the universe! And let me add one bad news relating to that. Since the universe is moving faster than light, there will come a time where the light from these galaxies will no longer reach us, and we wouldn’t be able to observe anything else from the universe anymore. We would literally feel alone, in a very, very dark place called the universe, until something finally concludes our existence. Kind of a grim note to end with, huh? Let’s avert that a bit! These are things that are established, but I wanna know what your thoughts are on this matter. 

Leave us your suggestions below on how we can travel faster than the speed of light! We’d love to hear from you, Thank you so much, and hope you enjoyed it!

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