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Understanding Temporal Dilation: The Time Vs. Velocity Equation - Part 5

Updated on September 25, 2009

It seems that light pulses can indeed be made to travel faster than the speed of light. This is a special property of light itself, which is far different from a familiar object like a brick. Only because light has no mass can it exceed the speed of light. Although it would seem to be illogical that light has no mass whatsoever, it is technically pure energy. The laws which govern the velocity of energy are quite different from the ones which factor mass into the equation.

The speed of light has been thought of for years as the maximum speed possible, but recently physicists have found a way for light to actually go faster than the speed of light. The team designed a small tube filled with special gas that actually sped up the light, making it go 310 times faster than it normally would have. Using extremely precise equipment, the pulse of light was measured leaving the tube 62 nanoseconds [billionths of a second] before it arrives. In other words, the light exited the tube before it had even entered, in essence going back in time, although only a few nanoseconds. The results of the experiment, physicists agree, are mind-bending.

This experiment opens the door to the effective elimination of cause and effect. We can see that it is possible to have an effect precede a cause! Causality turned on its head! In the words of Arthur Eddington, the universe is not just not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine!

It is currently not possible to implement this kind of phenomenon to send information faster than the speed of light. If you could the results would be straight out of a science fiction movie. Imagine sending information about an impending disaster back through time to prevent it from even happening. Other scientists insist that it is possible. There's been a great deal of controversy among physicists over the prospect of information actually being sent back in time. If a message could be encoded into a series of light pulses and then sent back through time, it would be possible to change the present. Only time will tell if that is possible; for now that kind of information will have to remain in science fiction books, not textbooks.

Beginning with Albert Einstein's revolutionary paper in 1905, the perception of time has been radically altered. Using only two relatively simple postulates, Einstein created a whole new theory that was way ahead of its time, and even today the bizarre occurrences that resulted because of it are hard to comprehend. Numerous experiments have now confirmed exactly what Einstein had predicted: time is fluid and shifting, and at high speeds is experienced slower than when standing still. Two people moving at different speeds will measure different times between events. New experiments using Einstein's established theory are proving that it is possible to send light backwards slightly in time, remarkable as that may sound, but the implications of the experiments are still hotly debated among the scientific community. It seems as if science is continually breaking its own rules and establishing new ones as more amazing ideas emerge.

Who needs science fiction? Science fact is more than enough for me.

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    • profile image

      Randy 

      8 years ago

      Our understanding is velocity and even acceleration effects time; thus, time is fluid because velocity and acceleration is a variable. Given that, we have proven that flying two planes and using on board atomic clocks as a reference, moving with the rotation and against the rotation of the earth has resulted in a time difference between the to clocks and resulted in a time difference with the stationary clock. The conclusion is that our time is based on the rotational velocity of the earth and that at the center of the earth, where velocity is nil, time is moving faster than at the surface of the earth. Given that is our earth time based on the velocity of our earth revolving around our sun and is it based on our universe as it travels through space from the beginning of time I.E. the big bang? just some thoughts.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Ok, how about "Warp Factor 9 Mr. Sulu!" :)

      Actually there are a variety of c+ states including the Scharnhorst effect where the speed of light is greater than the speed of light and yes, it's DAMN confusing! I need an Aspirin! :)

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Nicomp, ha, ha! Good point.

      Hal, I think he's just trying to tell you that light travels at the speed of light by definition.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      9 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "It seems that light pulses can indeed be made to travel faster than the speed of light. This is a special property of light itself, which is far different from a familiar object like a brick. Only because light has no mass can it exceed the speed of light."

      When light travels faster than the speed of light we need a new identifying term.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Well, c is c is c, as my old astronomy prof used to say. No matter where you go or how fast you're travelling, the speed of light is the same. It is wholly counterintuitive but it's been proven over and over.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      9 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Whatever speed light is traveling is, by definition, the speed of light. We need new terminology.

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