Extending Einstein's theory beyond light speed

Posted By News On October 10, 2012 - 2:00pm

University of Adelaide applied mathematicians have extended Einstein's theory of special relativity to work beyond the speed of light.

Einstein's theory holds that nothing could move faster than the speed of light, but Professor Jim Hill and Dr Barry Cox in the University's School of Mathematical Sciences have developed new formulas that allow for travel beyond this limit.

Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity was published in 1905 and explains how motion and speed is always relative to the observer's frame of reference. The theory connects measurements of the same physical incident viewed from these different points in a way that depends on the relative velocity of the two observers.

"Since the introduction of special relativity there has been much speculation as to whether or not it might be possible to travel faster than the speed of light, noting that there is no substantial evidence to suggest that this is presently feasible with any existing transportation mechanisms," said Professor Hill.

"About this time last year, experiments at CERN, the European centre for particle physics in Switzerland, suggested that perhaps neutrinos could be accelerated just a very small amount faster than the speed of light; at this point we started to think about how to deal with the issues from both a mathematical and physical perspective.

"Questions have since been raised over the experimental results 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.

"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 research has been published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society A in a paper, 'Einstein's special relativity beyond the speed of light'. Their formulas extend special relativity to a situation where the relative velocity can be infinite, and can be used to describe motion at speeds faster than light.

"We are mathematicians, not physicists, so we've approached this problem from a theoretical mathematical perspective," said Dr Cox. "Should it, however, be proven that motion faster than light is possible, then that would be game changing.

"Our paper doesn't try and explain how this could be achieved, just how equations of motion might operate in such regimes."

You know that a home mathematic genius, not connected to any university or government funded program is going to find this solution. In fact I will look into it myself :)

Not clear at all how the Lorenz Transformation could allow anything to travel faster than the speed of light.



It appears from this summary the author is just ignoring an experimentally proven phenomena.

The Lorentz transformation specifically refers to space and time being a function of speed of the observer.

That is to do with length contraction, and time dilation.

Secondarily, there is a third effect, and that is mass dilation, meaning that as speed increases, mass increases, until at the speed of light, mass becomes infinite.

And THAT is why, conventionally, no standard spacecraft can reach the speed of light, for just before reaching that speed, one needs infinite horsepower to accelerate near to and past infinite mass.

There have been hypothetical proposals that one can surpass this problem of infinite obstacles, by taking a spacetime shortcut sideways.

And example analogy is that to get a pencil to travel from top to bottom of the page takes a certain finite time. But, so say these theorists, one could instead fold the paper over, top to bottom, and push the pencil tip THROUGH the paper, from top to bottom (or vice versa), and thus achieve the 'travel distance & time' much more easily.

Alas, this is a furphy, for even if this movement were possible, nowhere has superluminal speed been reached, nor surpassed. Further, to "punch through" the "space time membranes" of these metaphorical paper-pages, there would also be massive distortions of gravitational force, just as if a spaceship had travelled within the Schwarzchikd radius around a blackhole. No human body could survive this.

So, it is quite legitimate to write equations for superluminal geometry, and that has been known for some time.

But it is not legitimate to allege that any human could ever get to that superluminal regime.

The first portion of that is right. It was summed up beautifully by the character Prot (Kevin Spacey) in K-PAX; his psychologist stated that Einstein says nothing can go faster than the speed of light, and he replies "Then I'd say you've misread Einstein... What Einstein actually said was that nothing can accelerate to the speed of light because its mass would become infinite. Einstein said nothing about entities already traveling at the speed of light or faster."

But the flaw later in your argument is that, if superluminal motion is possible, we really don't know how it might be achieved. It's reasonable so suppose that very strong and "twisted" gravitational forces may be involved, and that these would almost certainly be harmful to say the least, but we really don't know. Until there is a viable working theory about how it's done, there's no way of saying whether it is survivable or not.

But personally I don't think it's possible at all.