What if light speed wasn't the limit?

In summary, the CERN team has measured something that travels faster than light. It's far from certain that the results are correct, and it's possible that the speed limit of the universe is actually something else.
  • #1
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I saw the recent report where CERN was able to measure something that traveled a tiny bit faster than light. It made me think that only in exceptional circumstances can that speed limit be passed. But it did prompt other questions.

If light speed wasn't the limit, how would that affect things like BH formation?
What other astronomical events might be affected by having no such limit?
And how has the CERN event affected theories based on this limit?
 
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  • #2
The CERN team reported the possibility of FTL by neutrino's, however it is far from certain that the results are correct. Many many people believe it is either a statistical or measurement error. As far as we know currently light speed is unable to be broken.

As for your what if questions, how can we answer them if they break the laws of nature? Anything is possible if we do that.
 
  • #3
Also I might stress it important to consider c not just as the speed of light, but at the speed which all particles with 0 mass travel. Bosons travel at c. Fermions travel <c and require increasing energy to approach c.
 
  • #4
Drakkith said:
The CERN team reported the possibility of FTL by neutrino's, however it is far from certain that the results are correct. Many many people believe it is either a statistical or measurement error. As far as we know currently light speed is unable to be broken.

As for your what if questions, how can we answer them if they break the laws of nature? Anything is possible if we do that.

As I read it, they took a long time to publish, to be as certain as is possible that it wasn't a statistical or measurement error.

If the scale of possibility on the left end measured as being "far from certain" and on the right end as "as close to certain as we can get", this one sounds closer to the right side of the scale than the left.
 
  • #5
c isn't the speed limit of much of anything. All massive quanta have phase velocities greater than c. Real quanta light has a phase velocity of c in atificial laboratory conditions but is variable in general. What is limited to less than c?
 
  • #6
narrator said:
As I read it, they took a long time to publish, to be as certain as is possible that it wasn't a statistical or measurement error.

If the scale of possibility on the left end measured as being "far from certain" and on the right end as "as close to certain as we can get", this one sounds closer to the right side of the scale than the left.

Perhaps. I have not kept up with the 1000+ posts on the issue here on PF.

Phrak said:
c isn't the speed limit of much of anything. All massive quanta have phase velocities greater than c. Real quanta light has a phase velocity of c in atificial laboratory conditions but is variable in general. What is limited to less than c?

Signal velocity?
 
  • #7
Phrak said:
c isn't the speed limit of much of anything. All massive quanta have phase velocities greater than c. Real quanta light has a phase velocity of c in atificial laboratory conditions but is variable in general. What is limited to less than c?

Keeping it simple for boffins like me and quoting from http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/sep/22/faster-than-light-particles-neutrinos" [Broken]:

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 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...

Subir Sarkar, head of particle theory at Oxford University, said: "If this is proved to be true it would be a massive, massive event. It is something nobody was expecting.

"The constancy of the speed of light essentially underpins our understanding of space and time and causality, which is the fact that cause comes before effect."

The key point underlying causality is that the laws of physics as we know them dictate that information cannot be communicated faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, added Sarkar...

Despite the marginal increase on the speed of light observed by Ereditato's team, the result is intriguing because its statistical significance, the measure by which particle physics discoveries stand and fall, is so strong.

Physicists can claim a discovery if the chances of their result being a fluke of statistics are greater than five standard deviations, or less than one in a few million. The Gran Sasso team's result is six standard deviations...

Neutrinos are mysterious particles. They have a minuscule mass, no electric charge, and pass through almost any material as though it was not there.

Kostelecky said that if the result was verified – a big if – it might pave the way to a grand theory that marries gravity with quantum mechanics, a puzzle that has defied physicists for nearly a century.

"If this is confirmed, this is the first evidence for a crack in the structure of physics as we know it that could provide a clue to constructing such a unified theory," Kostelecky said.[/B]

The above and other articles I've read suggest that CERN have done everything by the book (statistically and measurement) but are remaining conservative until validated by others. What is interesting is where Kostelecky suggests that the benchmark may shift from light speed to neutrino speed. If so, then "the laws of nature" don't break. And the discovery could aid in the work towards a unified theory.
 
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  • #8
Statistics are not valid until all assumptions have been validated. That appears to still be an issue.
 
  • #9
Chronos said:
Statistics are not valid until all assumptions have been validated. That appears to still be an issue.

yes.. the usual process still needs going through
 
  • #10
c is the limit of information transmission speed.

The phase velocity of electromagnetic radiation may – under certain circumstances (for example anomalous dispersion) – exceed the speed of light in a vacuum, but this does not indicate any superluminal information or energy transfer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phase_velocity
 
  • #11
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What if light speed wasn't the limit?

The concept of light speed being the ultimate speed limit in the universe has been a long-standing principle in physics. However, theoretical and technological advancements have led to questions about the possibility of breaking this limit. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about what would happen if light speed wasn't the limit.

1. Can anything travel faster than the speed of light?

According to Einstein's theory of relativity, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. This is because as an object approaches the speed of light, its mass increases infinitely and requires infinite energy to accelerate further. Therefore, it is currently believed that nothing in the universe can exceed the speed of light.

2. What would happen to time if light speed wasn't the limit?

If light speed wasn't the limit, time would behave differently. As an object approaches the speed of light, time slows down for that object. This phenomenon is known as time dilation. Therefore, if light speed wasn't the limit, time would not slow down as much and we would experience time differently than we do now.

3. Would the laws of physics still apply if light speed wasn't the limit?

It is difficult to say for certain, as our understanding of the laws of physics is based on the assumption that light speed is the ultimate limit. If we were able to exceed this limit, it is possible that our current understanding of physics would need to be revised. However, some scientists suggest that the laws of physics may still apply, but in a different way than we currently understand.

4. How would breaking the speed of light affect space travel?

Breaking the speed of light would have a significant impact on space travel. With the current limitations of light speed, even traveling to the closest stars would take years or even centuries. However, if we were able to break this limit, we could potentially travel much faster and explore more of the universe in a shorter amount of time.

5. Is it possible to break the speed of light?

While there is currently no technology or evidence to suggest that we can break the speed of light, some scientists believe that it may be possible in the distant future. Theoretical concepts such as wormholes and warp drive have been proposed as potential ways to travel faster than light. However, the feasibility and ethical implications of such technology are still being debated.

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