Nothing can go faster than light. This is a physics law woven into the fabric of Einstein’s special theory of relativity. The faster something goes, the closer it gets to the perspective that time freezes to a standstill.
If you go even faster, you’ll run into time reversal problems dealing with notions of causality.
But researchers from the University of Warsaw in Poland and the National University of Singapore have pushed the limits of relativity to find a system that doesn’t contradict existing physics and could even lead to new theories.
What they found was an “extension” special relativity“which combines three time dimensions into a single space dimension (“1+3 space-time”), as opposed to the three spatial dimensions and one time dimension that we are all accustomed to.
This new study adds further evidence to support the idea that objects can travel faster than light without completely breaking our current laws of physics, rather than creating any major logical inconsistencies.
“There is no fundamental reason why observers traveling at speeds greater than the speed of light relative to the described physical systems should not be exposed to it.” says physicist Andrzej Draganfrom the University of Warsaw in Poland.
This new study builds on that. previous job by some of the same researchers who suggested that ultralight perspectives could help unify quantum mechanics with Einstein’s. special theory of relativity – two branches of physics that currently cannot be reconciled in a single overarching theory that describes gravity as we describe other forces.
Particles can no longer be modeled as point-like objects under this framework, as we can in the more mundane 3D (plus time) perspective of the universe.
Instead, to understand what observers can see and how a superluminal particle might behave, we need to turn to the field theories that underpin quantum physics.
Based on this new model, superluminal objects will look like an expanding particle in space like a bubble – no different than a wave passing through a field. The high speed object, on the other hand, will ‘experience’ several different timelines.
Even so, the speed of light in vacuum remains constant even for observers traveling faster than it does, which preserves one of Einstein’s fundamental principles – a principle previously thought only regarding observers traveling slower than the speed of light. (like all of us).
“This new definition preserves Einstein’s assumption of the constancy of the speed of light in vacuum, even for superluminal observers.” says Dragan.
“So our extended special relativity doesn’t seem like a particularly exaggerated idea.”
However, the researchers acknowledge that the move to the 1+3 space-time model raises some new questions, even while answering some questions. They argue that it is necessary to extend the special theory of relativity to include faster-than-light reference frames.
This may include borrowing quantum field theory: a combination of the concepts of special relativity, quantum mechanics, and classical field theory (aimed at predicting how physical fields will interact with each other).
If physicists are right, in extended special relativity all particles in the Universe would have extraordinary properties.
One of the questions the research raises is whether we can observe this long-term behavior – but it will take a lot more time and a lot more scientists to answer it.
“The purely experimental discovery of a new elementary particle is a Nobel Prize-worthy achievement and can be accomplished in a large research team using the latest experimental techniques.” says physicist Krzysztof Turzyńskifrom the University of Warsaw.
“However, we hope to apply our results to better understand the phenomenon of spontaneous symmetry breaking associated with the mass of the Higgs particle and other particles. Standard Modelespecially in the early Universe.”
Research published Classical and Quantum Gravity.
Leave a Comment