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Time Travel Again !

Davide Writes: (The email is posted as such. SO, sorry for the telegraphic language and poor spelling and grammar)

“Hello there i have one more question,a crazy one:) according to Einstein we need a enormous amount of energy to push matter at a speed of light,now for me the real problem there  is that an atoms at a speed of light will break a part right?so even if we will find a way to push it,we will still failed.I was wander are we looking to the right way?is it photon, so the world of small with no mass only work? now here my crazy question,lets speculate a bit,we have two red dwarf pretty close to earth Barnard’s Star” only  “5.9 ly and Wolf 359 7.7ly a baby step compere the universe,if we can send a same kind of mission the we have done with Stardust Nasa’s comet sample and collect a piece the size of a soccer ball back to earth,we could work on it outside earth atmosphere in the space base.Since we can’t go in the first place at a speed of light let’s says that the all deal will last 150 year to go and back,(assuming that we use a new energy to go bit faster)in the mean time the space base will be pretty developed and maybe we even found a new power to push to the speed of light(i remind you that we are speculate)we could put our hands on the sample using electromagnetism so that we avoid any risks and then send it at a seed of light.What i try to say is that a single atom is weak but billions of it together is a different story,here an example, lets imagine to make a spherical shape out of Lego(the toy) and send it in to space at a great speed,it will break pretty soon,now we make another one but we glue the piece together,it will last bit longer,again another with glue and a put net around it will last even longer so instead of a Lego we use our sample,the glue in the inside is the immense mass that will have (piece of red dwarf) net outside the  immense gravitational pull ,now do you think that it will be enough to keep it together at a speed of light?regardless the energy that we need to push it?  after all even in the past we believed that going faster than a  speed of sound a plane will brake a part or something bad could happen,instead only a big BUM wen we reach it and nothing more,so maybe if we can go faster than light nothing will happen,or maybe we find a new way to travel,we can even give a name for fun “a speed of matter” what do you think about it?i know it sound like sci fi but hey physics it self is blowing mind science right?   Thank you kindly for your time:)”

I don’t like to respond now.

Responses from visitors invited

Ron writes on Light and Relativity

Let me start by saying I am NOT a physicist.  That much should be painfully clear soon enough.  Please bear with me as I am not certain I have the language and in depth knowledge to explain myself adequately.

A few years ago I began experiencing parallels between the world of human behavior and physics.  At the time it seemed simple enough.  That is until I started teaching myself physics.  But at its core it seemed to make sense, the rules of life recycle themselves in different forms.  Out of simple ideas comes complexity.  Newton’s laws, thermodynamics… pascals principle, snells law, red and blue shift, wave particle duality and on and on… all seem to have their parallels in human behavior and on the surface seem to follow the same mathematical equations. Then I ran into the most famous of physics equations E=MC^2.  It makes sense in human behavior.  The energy (work) we can get out of an individual is relative to that individuals’ mass.  The more matter we attach to the individual, knowledge, life experience etc (therefore increasing their mass) the more we can get out of them in the form of energy… but then the problem of the speed of light squared.  The only known constant (light speed) is a problem in human behavior.  At least to this point I know of no known behavioral constant.

I juggled the idea of it being a relative constant.  Constant for the individual but relative as it would differ for everyone.  The speed of cognition, or thought speed, would remain the same in potential throughout life of a given individual.  Or that it was just a theoretical potential that humanity had yet to obtain.  I even juggled the idea of it being a collective ability, but all of these options cause problems with the original equation.  This has forced me to contemplate the nature of light and left me with questions I simply lack the understanding of physics to answer.

Is the speed of light truly constant or is it only constant as it relates to the big picture?  As in: our perception of time as it relates to all time that has ever existed would appear as a single point in time.  The older we get the more time seems to “fly by”  if we as humans could continue to live for 13 billion years would the perception of an hour become so perceptively small that we wouldn’t even know it has passed?   Is it therefore possible we can only understand and therefore measure the speed of light at a specific point in time, even if we try to come back and remeasure and compare the speed of light now with the speed of light fifty years from now the difference between the two would be imperceptivity small as a result of the displacement in time as it relates to the whole of time?

If the four dimensionality of time/space is linked shouldn’t time expand as space expands? And vice versa… if the speed of light is to remain constant as measured under such conditions isn’t light actually slowing down/speeding up over time as it relates to the whole of existing time/space?  It’s a distance displacement problem…. If points A and B are actually farther apart but light travels the same distance in the same time the “speed” may seem constant but time has actually expanded to give the light more “time” to cover that distance.  The speed of light would therefore be constant as a relation to perception and not as it relates to physical principles. Like the fact that the perception of time changes as we get older even though the actual measure of time remains the same.

How can light exist forever?  At the speed of light we theoretically freeze time for that photon but that would also require an infinite amount of energy to obtain and maintain. So even a subatomic particle with a lifespan of a nanosecond would appear to exist for all eternity but in actuality would still only exist for a nanosecond.  Because quite simply…it can’t have infinite energy and if it can I don’t understand how.  Thermodynamics: no system is a perfect system and will experience energy loss, Newton: equal and opposite reaction, if something begins it has to end to balance the equation.

Is it therefore possible that light is born of the fourth dimension… we experience it in the dimensionality of space as long as it loses its energy to the three dimensions.  A photon folds and pushes its way through space/time  The initial energy of the photon is high and generates bigger leading waves which resist the photon holding it from passing the “speed of light” as the energy dissipates/photon begins to die those folds restricts the photon less allowing it to maintain the speed of light.  We experience light because of its “ripples” in three-dimensions light dissipates as the waves of space become less folded in front of the photon.  But this would mean the photon eventually loses enough energy that it can no longer be perceived in the third dimension….  So what happens to it??  Imagine : A man running through a corn field has to exert the energy to push the stalks aside but  over time if the corn stalks are slowly spaced out even as he loses energy he can maintain his pace, because there is less impeding his path.  Our perception of light would be like being in a helicopter looking down on the field.  In the begging the field is densely packed with cornstalks and they slowly spread out until there is none.  We only know the man is there while he is running through the corn because he pushes the stalks aside and we see that movement but once there are no stalks or he lacks the energy to continue running we no longer have a way of measuring his presence.

That brings me for some reason to a theory of Dark matter.  Why?  Well what happens to photons that no longer move with enough force to be visible.  Like that guy running from a cornfield into an empty field.  How would we know he is still there?  If it was an infinite number of guys all stopping in that empty field we would know they are there by the depression their weight leaves in the field.  Or more accurately by the stones in the field rolling towards a depression we cant actually see.  The thought: An infinite number of “massless” (or perceived mass less) subatomic particles would still have infinite mass.  Infinite mass would supply more then enough gravitational pull even spread out over infinite distance to cause the continued and speeding expansion of space as more and more visible photons “die” contributing its “dark masslessness”.  Any dark matter existing within the universe would act as force… a moving invisible mass existing only on the 4th dimension pushing upon any objects in its way.  But because energy propagated internally expanding outward in all dimensions would compound on the outside as those energy’s converge.

I hope you followed those questions.  I don’t know what these ideas would do to theoretical physics but it would allow for the relativity of cognitive speed between individuals and reopen the door to “what the hell is dark matter in relation to human behavior” but that’s something different all together.

How light maintain its speed after refraction?

How light maintain its speed after refraction? -(Naveen Saxena asked)


The speed of light in a medium is constant. When light enters from one medium to another, there is a change in the speed of light and the change is almost instantaneous. The speed of light in a medium depends on the electric and magnetic properties of the medium, more specifically, the electric permitivity and magnetic permeability of the medium.

The speed of light in a medium is given by

Wikipedia says

“At the microscale, an electromagnetic wave’s phase speed is slowed in a material because the electric field creates a disturbance in the charges of each atom (primarily the electrons) proportional to the electric susceptibility of the medium. (Similarly, the magnetic field creates a disturbance proportional to the magnetic susceptibility.) As the electromagnetic fields oscillate in the wave, the charges in the material will be “shaken” back and forth at the same frequency. The charges thus radiate their own electromagnetic wave that is at the same frequency, but usually with a phase delay, as the charges may move out of phase with the force driving them . The light wave traveling in the medium is the macroscopic superposition (sum) of all such contributions in the material: The original wave plus the waves radiated by all the moving charges. This wave is typically a wave with the same frequency but shorter wavelength than the original, leading to a slowing of the wave’s phase speed. Most of the radiation from oscillating material charges will modify the incoming wave, changing its velocity. However, some net energy will be radiated in other directions or even at other frequencies .

Depending on the relative phase of the original driving wave and the waves radiated by the charge motion, there are several possibilities:

  • If the electrons emit a light wave which is 90° out of phase with the light wave shaking them, it will cause the total light wave to travel more slowly. This is the normal refraction of transparent materials like glass or water, and corresponds to a refractive index which is real and greater than 1.
  • If the electrons emit a light wave which is 270° out of phase with the light wave shaking them, it will cause the total light wave to travel more quickly. This is called “anomalous refraction”, and is observed close to absorption lines, with X-rays, and in some microwave systems. It corresponds to a refractive index less than 1. (Even though the phase velocity of light is greater than the speed of light in vacuum c, the signal velocity is not, as discussed above). If the response is sufficiently strong and out-of-phase, the result is negative refractive index discussed below.
  • If the electrons emit a light wave which is 180° out of phase with the light wave shaking them, it will destructively interfere with the original light to reduce the total light intensity. This is light absorption in opaque materials and corresponds to an imaginary refractive index.
  • If the electrons emit a light wave which is in phase with the light wave shaking them, it will amplify the light wave. This is rare, but occurs in lasers due to stimulated emission. It corresponds to an imaginary index of refraction, with the opposite sign as absorption.

For most materials at visible-light frequencies, the phase is somewhere between 90° and 180°, corresponding to a combination of both refraction and absorption.”

Speed of Light

Saafa asked:

“what is the speed of light?”


Speed of Light in Vacuum is 3 x 108 m/s

The various experiments conducted to determine the speed of light are

  • [wiki]Foucault[/wiki]’s method
  • [wiki]Fizeau[/wiki]’s method
  • [wiki]Michelson[/wiki]’s method
  • … and many more

How OPERA found the fast µ neutrino traveled faster than light?

After the news of the neutrino travelling faster than light came, everyone is enquiring about this. Many students are of the opinion that “It is time to change the Physics Textbooks” But time has not come. It is just the first result pointing towards a possibility that some particles can travel faster than light. Here is an account of the result obtained by the researchers at OPERA.

Researchers on the Opera (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) experiment recorded the arrival times of ghostly subatomic particles called neutrinos sent from Cern on a 730km journey through the Earth to the Gran Sasso lab.

The trip would take a beam of light 2.4 milliseconds to complete, but after running the experiment for three years and timing the arrival of 15,000 neutrinos, the scientists discovered that the particles arrived at Gran Sasso sixty billionths of a second earlier, with an error margin of plus or minus 10 billionths of a second.

The measurement amounts to the neutrinos travelling faster than the speed of light by a fraction of 20 parts per million. Since the speed of light is 299,792,458 metres per second, the neutrinos were evidently travelling at 299,798,454 metres per second.

The result is so unlikely that even the research team is being cautious with its interpretation. Physicists said they would be sceptical of the finding until other laboratories confirmed the result.

Many think that IF neutrinos really traveled faster than light, the entire principles and theories proposed by Einstein would be proved wrong. But this is not true. One of the great dream of Einstein was the unification. This would pave way for the theory of unification of forces.

You can download the research report here
Learn all about Neutrinos

If neutrino travels faster than light?

If neutrinos travel at the speed of light through a vacuum, and rarely interact with matter, how fast do they travel through the nucleus of an atom?

(David Tate asked)

Time Dilation in Relativity

Manishankar asks: “When we match the speed of light,it is said that time drags..does that mean we become old a little slower?If so,how?”

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