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There is a way (and it's the only way) to exceed the speed of light: here's what it is

There is a way (and it's the only way) to exceed the speed of light: here's what it is

There is a speed limit in the universe, and we are talking about the speed of light. Here's how you can actually beat it

In our world There are some rules Which must be respected. Energy, momentum and angular momentum are conserved when they are two amount That is, interaction. There is a cosmic speed limit that applies to every object. Nothing can exceed the speed of light Nothing with mass can reach this speed. 299.792.458 m/s.

Different theories

The speed of light
Credit: NASA

But in recent decades, scientists have developed interesting theories to try to go beyond this limit. Some have put me Tacionevirtual particles that could even Exceeding the speed of light: However, tachyons must have imaginary masses and do not exist physically. General relativityHe then says that space distorted enough could create a kind of wormhole, creating a shorter path to pass through. Except we never saw it wormhole. However, there is a way to overcome the speed of light: by passing through an “intermediary”.

The maximum speed of light

We start from the assumption that light Electromagnetic wave. Of course, it also behaves like a particle. When we talk about the speed of its propagation, it is useful to think of it not just as a wave, but as a wave of oscillating electric and magnetic fields. In a vacuum, there is nothing preventing those fields from traveling at the amplitude they naturally choose, determined by energy, frequency, and wavelength.

When light travels through a medium, i.e. any area it is in electric charges (and perhaps electrical currents), those electric and magnetic fields encounter a certain level of resistance to their free propagation. But if the frequency stays the same, then it means so wave length That must change. Since the frequency is multiplied by the wavelength equals speedThis means that the speed of light changes depending on the medium in which it propagates.

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An insurmountable limit?

The speed of light

Why do we say that you cannot exceed the speed of light in a vacuum? Because in the vacuum of space, light has no choice but to travel at only one speed: 299.792.458 m/s. It is also the speed at which any form of travel takes place Pure radiation (such as gravity) and also the speed at which any massless particle must travel. Except that most particles in the universe have mass. Therefore the speed of light in a vacuum is a limit Which you can only get close to Without ever arriving.

What happens if light passes through a medium?

Let's take the prism And let's try to imagine light passing through us. When light travels through a medium, it has electric and magnetic fields Affected by the effects of matter To cross. This mechanism has the effect of changing the speed at which light travels. This is also why, when we see light entering or leaving one medium, or passing from one medium to another, it appears that way Bend over. Although it is free to propagate, light has its own propagation speed and its wavelength strongly depends on the properties of the medium through which it travels.

Fate of molecules

The speed of light
Calcite crystal Hit by 445 nm laser. Image source: Jan Pavelka / European Science Photo Contest 2015

but, Particles Suffer a different fate. If a high-energy particle that was passing through a vacuum suddenly found itself passing through a medium, its behavior would be different from that of light. Particles, in fact, move Slower than light in a vacuum, but faster than light relative to the medium it enters. This is the only physical way in which particles can exceed the speed of light. When they do this, a certain type of radiation is emitted, which is… Cherenkov radiation.

When a charged particle passes through a medium, it either collides with other particles or disintegrates Direct effect On the vehicle in which he travels. In the latter case, it causes polarization Particles in the middle. Like charges repel and opposite charges attract, in response to a charged particle passing through the medium. Once the charged particle is “out of the way,” those electrons return to their ground state and these transformations cause light to be emitted. This is what happens in the water tanks surrounding nuclear reactors.

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