# Thread: Faster Than the Speed Of Light?

1. I watched a documentary recently which said that in millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second the universe went from the size of an atom to the size of a galaxy, at the point of the big bang.

This is obviously massively faster than the speed of light.

Given that Einstein stated that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light how can this be explained?

2.

3. Originally Posted by Westerhouse
I watched a documentary recently which said that in millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second the universe went from the size of an atom to the size of a galaxy, at the point of the big bang.

This is obviously massively faster than the speed of light.

Given that Einstein stated that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light how can this be explained?
The speed of light restriction applies only to particles within space-time, not to space-time itself.
So, while nothing within the universe can travel faster than the speed of light, the spacetime continuum itself is permitted to expand at a rate faster than c.

4. But Tachyons? Even Einstein predicted such particles.

5. Tachyons are condemned to always travel faster than light; they cannot travel at the speed of light.

However, they are purely hypothetical. They are mathematically possible but there is no evidence that they exist.

6. Originally Posted by Markus Hanke
Originally Posted by Westerhouse
I watched a documentary recently which said that in millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second the universe went from the size of an atom to the size of a galaxy, at the point of the big bang.

This is obviously massively faster than the speed of light.

Given that Einstein stated that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light how can this be explained?
The speed of light restriction applies only to particles within space-time, not to space-time itself.
So, while nothing within the universe can travel faster than the speed of light, the spacetime continuum itself is permitted to expand at a rate faster than c.
I see, thanks for clearing that up.

7. Originally Posted by Markus Hanke
Originally Posted by Westerhouse
I watched a documentary recently which said that in millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second the universe went from the size of an atom to the size of a galaxy, at the point of the big bang.

This is obviously massively faster than the speed of light.

Given that Einstein stated that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light how can this be explained?
The speed of light restriction applies only to particles within space-time, not to space-time itself.
So, while nothing within the universe can travel faster than the speed of light, the spacetime continuum itself is permitted to expand at a rate faster than c.
But hence, spacetime itself is nothing! Spacetime is a metaphorical understanding of what is every and what is nothing, hence ZERO point. Space time is another philosophical idea of nothing.

{Please, if you may, what is the equilibrium of life? I will say death, in that answer. I will also say, life. So do not tell me that life is an essence of speed of light.

8. Originally Posted by RJC
So do not tell me that life is an essence of speed of light.
I don't think anyone was going to do that.

9. ? A little sign at the outer edge of the heliosphere?
"Please pass all photons on the left"
and another sign posted toward the galactic center reads
"NO passing zone"

I'm not an idiot--just an ignorant savage--and i do not understand why the speed of light is assumed to be the fastest that anything can travel.
So, of course i find it hard to take that seriously.

10. Originally Posted by sculptor
i do not understand why the speed of light is assumed to be the fastest that anything can travel.
It isn't an assumption.

Originally Posted by sculptor
i do not understand .............So, of course i find it hard to take that seriously.
Limiting what you take seriously to what you understand seems to be taking the idea of limits excessively far.

11. Originally Posted by sculptor
i do not understand why the speed of light is assumed to be the fastest that anything can travel.
Traveling in space-time means you are trading space for time. If you stand still, all the time in the universe can pass without you ever leaving your stationary point. On the other hand, the faster you move, the more space you trade for time; the ratio between the two is a fundamental property of space-time itself ( in its vacuum state ). A photon traveling at exactly c can, from it's own perspective, reach any point in space without any time elapsing; this is the limit of what is achievable in terms of speed. In a way the speed of light is really a geometric property of space-time.

While the above is not mathematically or physically rigorous, it is a good way to visualize why c is the maximum achievable speed in space-time.

12. Originally Posted by Markus Hanke
Originally Posted by sculptor
i do not understand why the speed of light is assumed to be the fastest that anything can travel.
Traveling in space-time means you are trading space for time. If you stand still, all the time in the universe can pass without you ever leaving your stationary point. On the other hand, the faster you move, the more space you trade for time; the ratio between the two is a fundamental property of space-time itself ( in its vacuum state ). A photon traveling at exactly c can, from it's own perspective, reach any point in space without any time elapsing; this is the limit of what is achievable in terms of speed. In a way the speed of light is really a geometric property of space-time.

While the above is not mathematically or physically rigorous, it is a good way to visualize why c is the maximum achievable speed in space-time.
Thanx Markus---much better answer than John gave(especially for the purpose of discussion).
(following the bouncing ball) back to Albert--- C is a limit within the construct "space time"?
and that construct has been challenged
if the challenges alter or remove the construct
then the limitations assumed within the mathematical applications within the construct are subject to the whim of the next construct?
taking a giant step backward for a better view
and applying the noted faster than the speed of light activity "before 'space time' "
then
is space time a constant in and of itself, or just a momentary state of existance?
phrased another way
if there was a "before space time" then that implies an "after"
which would seem to make "space time" a temporary thing?

still feels like an assumption to me
(maybe "assumption" ain't the best word?)
.......
edit-question
when i use phrases like "following the bouncing ball"
Is the reference universally understood in it's positive application?
caveat--because i am broadly and eclectally educated, while the professors i know are mostly narrowly educated(but with much greater depth in their fields)
my (professor--she finally made "full professor" this year yippee) wife said that i often make obscure references assuming that everyone knows them while in point of fact, few do., And, she added, that some feel i am deliberately obfuscating when i had exactly the opposite intention.

13. Originally Posted by John Galt
Originally Posted by sculptor
i do not understand why the speed of light is assumed to be the fastest that anything can travel.
It isn't an assumption.

Originally Posted by sculptor
i do not understand .............So, of course i find it hard to take that seriously.
Limiting what you take seriously to what you understand seems to be taking the idea of limits excessively far.
The Theory of Relativity is just that, a Theory. It has not been proven because we do not have the technology to test the theory. Many people seem, to me, to assume it as fact. so in essence it is an assumption. We assume that, because Mr. Einstein was a genius and correct about so many things, he is correct about relativity. I will maintain some skepticism until it becomes the Law of Relativity.

14. Originally Posted by dmwyant
Originally Posted by John Galt
Originally Posted by sculptor
i do not understand why the speed of light is assumed to be the fastest that anything can travel.
It isn't an assumption.

Originally Posted by sculptor
i do not understand .............So, of course i find it hard to take that seriously.
Limiting what you take seriously to what you understand seems to be taking the idea of limits excessively far.
The Theory of Relativity is just that, a Theory. It has not been proven because we do not have the technology to test the theory. Many people seem, to me, to assume it as fact. so in essence it is an assumption. We assume that, because Mr. Einstein was a genius and correct about so many things, he is correct about relativity. I will maintain some skepticism until it becomes the Law of Relativity.
A theory in science is not the same as a guess. It is a explanation of observed facts which has been tested and retested. Relativity has been tested and verified many times.

15. Originally Posted by AlexG
A theory in science is not the same as a guess. It is a explanation of observed facts which has been tested and retested. Relativity has been tested and verified many times.
Ummm... If it was verified then it would be the Law of Relativity. Not the Theory of Relativity. the Theory of Relativity falls under #3 below in the Theory section.
LAW
1) An empirical generalization; a statement of a biological principle that appears to be without exception at the time it is made, and has become consolidated by repeated successful testing; rule (Lincoln et al., 1990)
2) A theoretical principle deduced from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by a statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present (Oxford English Dictionary as quoted in Futuyma, 1979).
3) A set of observed regularities expressed in a concise verbal or mathematical statement. (Krimsley, 1995).

THEORY
1) The grandest synthesis of a large and important body of information about some related group of natural phenomena (Moore, 1984)
2) A body of knowledge and explanatory concepts that seek to increase our understanding ("explain") a major phenomenon of nature (Moore, 1984).
3) A scientifically accepted general principle supported by a substantial body of evidence offered to provide an explanation of observed facts and as a basis for future discussion or investigation (Lincoln et al., 1990).
4) 1. The abstract principles of a science as distinguished from basic or applied science. 2. A reasonable explanation or assumption advanced to explain a natural phenomenon but lacking confirming proof (Steen, 1971). [NB: I don't like this one but I include it to show you that even in "Science dictionaries" there is variation in definitions which leads to confusion].
5) A scheme or system of ideas or statements held as an explanation or account of a group of facts or phenomena; a hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by observation or experiment, and is propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts; a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles or causes of something known or observed. (Oxford English Dictionary, 1961; [emphasis added]).
6) An explanation for an observation or series of observations that is substantiated by a considerable body of evidence (Krimsley, 1995).

Literature Cited
Futuyma, D. J. 1979. Evolutionary Biology. Sinauer Assoc.
Krimsley, V. S. 1995. Introductory Chemistry, 2nd Ed. Brooks/Cole Publishing Co., Pacific Grove.
Lincoln, R. J., G. A. Boxshall, and P. F. Clark. 1990. A dictionary of ecology, evolution and systematics. Cambridge Univ. Press.
Moore, J. A. 1984. Science as a way of knowing--evolutionary biology. Amer. Zool. 24: 467-534.
Oxford English Dictionary, 1961; Oxford University Press, London.
Steen, E. B. 1971. Dictionary of Biology. Barnes and Nobel.

Granted the definitions can be ambiguous at times but these are the best I could find.

16. It also fits under #3 as a Law.

17. Fer sum folks, Wayne, brevity is a blessing. For you, on the other hand, I'm beginning to think it a disease

18. Originally Posted by dmwyant
The Theory of Relativity is just that, a Theory. It has not been proven because we do not have the technology to test the theory.
That is not correct. While it I agree that it remains a theory, many aspects of it have been experimentally verified - and yes, we do in many cases have the technology to do so :

Tests of special relativity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tests of general relativity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

19. Originally Posted by sculptor
is space time a constant in and of itself, or just a momentary state of existance?
While the application of terms like "momentary state of existence" is highly problematic in this context, I understand what you are trying to say, and it is indeed a very good question.
The truth is - no one knows. There are plenty of models out there which assume that space-time is not actually "constant", but evolved / emerged in some way. Here is just one example :

Causal dynamical triangulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Really what these models are saying is that space-time is an emergent phenomenon, born out of a more fundamental, less ordered state. Problem is of course that such models are inherently difficult to test, so at the moment these are all purely hypothetical.

20. Originally Posted by Markus Hanke
Originally Posted by dmwyant
The Theory of Relativity is just that, a Theory. It has not been proven because we do not have the technology to test the theory.
That is not correct. While it I agree that it remains a theory, many aspects of it have been experimentally verified - and yes, we do in many cases have the technology to do so :

Tests of special relativity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tests of general relativity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
After reading the information posted I concede that Parts of the theory have indeed been verified I guess the thing that keeps sticking in my head is E=MC2. Wich means, correct me if I am wrong, that the energy required to accelerate an object with mass to the speed of light is equal to said mass times C squared. I weigh 120 Kilos. So to accelerate me to Light speed would take the energy to move 10785062144841810000000000000000000 Kilos, which would be my mass times the speed of light squared approximately. My question is have we been able to accelerate something with Mass to determine if this is correct? And I must admit that I cannot imagine trying to move something with Quadrillions of tons of mass.

21. Your E=MC^2 is not the correct formula to use, but to answer your question, yes we accelerate things with mass very close to the speed of light all the time in particle accelerators like LHC.

22. To expand on MeteorWayne's comment.

Is used to find the energy equivalence of a rest mass. It is how much energy that mass can be converted into.

To find how much energy of an mass moving at a given speed (its kinetic energy) you use

Notice how, that as v approaches c, the energy approaches infinity.

In other words, you can never get a mass up to the speed of light, as it would take an infinite amount of energy to do so.

23. Ok, I understand now. Thankyou for the explanations

24. Originally Posted by dmwyant
Ok, I understand now. Thankyou for the explanations
Nice to see someone who is actually willing to listen and learn. Kudos to you, dmwyant.

25. ^ I thought that was the whole point of this forum, to learn.

26. if a mass was moving faster than c before "space time" then the mass would have more than infinite energy as space time came into existance?
so what happens to the "infinite energy" of the mass when it moves into what we call space time?

is infinite divisable?

27. Before space/time. there was no mass, there was no energy, there was no velocity.

28. Come on... how meaningless is it to say "before" space-time? With no space and no time there can be no "before", can there?

29. Originally Posted by SpeedFreek
Come on... how meaningless is it to say "before" space-time? With no space and no time there can be no "before", can there?
The crazy thing is
I really do not know
and through your eyes, i may yet find enlightenment
.........
the faster anything travels , the more kinetic energy it has, and as the speed approaches the speed of light the closer to infinite energy the thing has, meanwhile, as the thing approaches the speed of light, the closer to "time standing still" exists for the thing
(how can a thing with almost no mass have almost infinite energy?)
over the years, many have claimed faster than light speed for neutrinos,(though these claims have cost some of the claimants their careers) and the consensus seems +- .0000000?0002C
with billions of billions of these supefasts particles, all -each having almost infinite energy
as infinite is unquantifyable, and we have billions of billions of near infinite
my personal confusion mounts
never mind "time standing still" (which i find bizarre)
..........
add in, the universe expanding faster than the speed of light
it seems an obvious next step postulation to look for some unknown energy, and matter
call 'em dark
that would tie the information into a useful bundle
\...........
unless, the current concept
is a temporary step in quest of a better understanding
......
whither hence

30. over the years, many have claimed faster than light speed for neutrinos,(though these claims have cost some of the claimants their careers)
citation in support of this please.

31. Originally Posted by sculptor
the faster anything travels , the more kinetic energy it has, and as the speed approaches the speed of light the closer to infinite energy the thing has, meanwhile, as the thing approaches the speed of light, the closer to "time standing still" exists for the thing
(how can a thing with almost no mass have almost infinite energy?)
Nothing has "almost infinite" energy. The term "almost infinite" has no meaning.

A high energy particle, travelling at just under the speed of light, has a high energy. We measure this energy all the time in particle accelerators.

Originally Posted by sculptor
over the years, many have claimed faster than light speed for neutrinos,(though these claims have cost some of the claimants their careers)
Perhaps it is because neutrinos do not travel faster than light?

Originally Posted by sculptor
with billions of billions of these supefasts particles, all -each having almost infinite energy
Yes, you must be very confused if you think anything in the universe has "almost infinite" energy. You have misunderstood what it means for something to be infinite. Anything that is finite CANNOT be "almost" infinite.

32. Originally Posted by SpeedFreek
... Nothing has "almost infinite" energy. The term "almost infinite" has no meaning.

Yes, you must be very confused if you think anything in the universe has "almost infinite" energy. You have misunderstood what it means for something to be infinite. ... .
confused?, confused ain't the half of it..."hell, i'm just getting warmed up" ... thanx
I find it difficult to conceive of the infinite

leave that a moment

if an object traveling at the speed of light has infinite kinetic energy
true?
then something traveling at .999999999999999999999999999999999999999(to the billionth of a billionth...etc)C
is approaching the speed of light
true?
(laughing at myself thinking ar we 39 joules away from infinite)
is there a more apropos phrase to describe (if it can be called a relationship?) this relative relationship with infinite energy
(it's become obvious that "almost" didn't quite cut it)
........
time dilation
if the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light, and other galaxies are moving away from us relative to our perspective faster than the speed of light
is there a time dilation component that needs be recognized in/for the observational data?

ie if we look at a galaxy 1 billion light years away, we assume that we are looking at that galaxy 1 billion years in it's past
true?
if then, that galaxy is moving away from our perspective at i nano second per billion years less than the speed of light, are we really seeing that galaxy as it appeared 1 billion years ago?

confusedly yours
rod

33. Originally Posted by John Galt
over the years, many have claimed faster than light speed for neutrinos,(though these claims have cost some of the claimants their careers)
citation in support of this please.
coupl'a
as/re super nova (SN) 1987A
[hep-ph/9712265] On velocities beyond the speed of light c
maybe part of why neutrinos were assumed to have no mass?

then the 2006-2007 minos experiment again, superluminal

and last year, opera
...
lest we forget the
quantum tunneling effect
......
if light is forced to bend (go around) something(a galaxy) obstructing the view between us and the object viewed, and neutrinos can pass through the obstruction in a straight line
would it not seem as though the neutrinos were faster than light?

34. Originally Posted by sculptor
And, as in the second part of your claim, did that cost him his career?

maybe part of why neutrinos were assumed to have no mass?
If they had no mass then they would be constrained to travel at the speed of light. That paper suggests that they have "imaginary" mass (i.e. the square of the mass is negative); this is what would imply a superluminal speed (in other words, they would be tachyons).

if light is forced to bend (go around) something(a galaxy) obstructing the view between us and the object viewed, and neutrinos can pass through the obstruction in a straight line
would it not seem as though the neutrinos were faster than light?
Light "goes round" a massive object because of gravitational lensing caused by the curvature of spacetime itself. The light is still following the shortest path (a "geodesic"; the generalization of "straight" to curved geometries). Neutrinos cannot take a route shorter than that shortest path (by definition).

On the other hand, one of the more speculative explanations for the OPERA result was that the neutrinos were taking a short cut through some of the extra "string theory" dimensions. However, as the result is now known to be an error, that idea can go back in the drawer for the time being.

35. Originally Posted by Strange
Originally Posted by sculptor
And, as in the second part of your claim, did that cost him his career?

... .
the one i'm sure of was the opera guy--(trying to remember his name)(maybe he's just taking a vacation?)

36. Originally Posted by sculptor
the one i'm sure of was the opera guy--(trying to remember his name)(maybe he's just taking a vacation?)
Notionally, he resigned because he pushed to publish a paper with incorrect data in it. (Several members of the team thought it shouldn't be published.) It is generally assumed there must have been some group politics behind it, though.

37. There is a good write-up here. 'Faster-Than-Light' Neutrino Team Leaders Resign : Discovery News
Apparently some of the team members were unhappy about the way the press release was handled, and/or embarrassed by the (somewhat obvious) mistake with the bad optical cable connection.

38. Warp Engines!!!

39. Originally Posted by sculptor
if an object traveling at the speed of light has infinite kinetic energy
true?
Not really. Nothing with mass can travel at the speed of light, so nothing can actually have infinite kinetic energy.

Originally Posted by sculptor
then something traveling at .999999999999999999999999999999999999999(to the billionth of a billionth...etc)C
is approaching the speed of light
true?
Yes, that's true.

Originally Posted by sculptor
is there a more apropos phrase to describe (if it can be called a relationship?) this relative relationship with infinite energy
(it's become obvious that "almost" didn't quite cut it)
There is no such thing as a relative relationship with infinity. One might say that some value might head towards, or tend towards infinity, but consider this - 2,000,000,000,000,000,000 is no closer to infinity than zero is! Any finite quantity is as far away from infinity as any other finite quantity.

Infinity is not a number. You can double any number, as many times as you like, and you will never find infinity (unless you do it forever!)

Originally Posted by sculptor
time dilation
if the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light, and other galaxies are moving away from us relative to our perspective faster than the speed of light
is there a time dilation component that needs be recognized in/for the observational data?
There is a form of cosmological time dilation, but it bears no relation to the time-dilation of special relativity. Galaxies that have apparent recession speeds of c are not "frozen in time".

Originally Posted by sculptor
ie if we look at a galaxy 1 billion light years away, we assume that we are looking at that galaxy 1 billion years in it's past
true?
Yes.*

Originally Posted by sculptor
if then, that galaxy is moving away from our perspective at i nano second per billion years less than the speed of light, are we really seeing that galaxy as it appeared 1 billion years ago?
Yes, we are. We see that galaxy as it was when it emitted that light.*

*It all depends on how you define distance in an expanding universe. I took your initial question at face value when I answered yes. If we take the expansion of the universe into account, then light that took 1 billion years to reach us came from galaxies that were a little less than 1 billion light-years away at the time the light was emitted, and those galaxies will now be a little more than 1 billion light-years away as that light reaches us.

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