Study shows what the universe would look like if you broke the speed of light, and it’s weird: ScienceAlert

Study shows what the universe would look like if you broke the speed of light, and it’s weird: ScienceAlert

Study shows what the universe would look like if you broke the speed of light, and it’s weird: ScienceAlert

Nothing can go faster than light. It is a rule of physics intertwined with the structure of Einstein’s special theory of relativity. The faster something goes, the closer it gets to its perspective of stagnant time.

If you go even faster, you run into problems of reversing time, messing with notions of causality.

But researchers from the University of Warsaw in Poland and the National University of Singapore have now pushed the boundaries of relativity to come up with a system that doesn’t conflict with existing physics, and may even point the way to new theories.

What they’ve come up with is an “extension of special relativitywhich combines three dimensions of time with a single dimension of space (“1+3 space-time”), as opposed to the three dimensions of space and one dimension of time that we are all used to.

Rather than creating major logical inconsistencies, this new study adds more evidence to support the idea that objects may be able to go faster than light without completely violating our current laws of physics.

“There is no fundamental reason why observers moving in relation to the described physical systems at speeds greater than the speed of light should not be subject to it,” says physicist Andrzej Draganfrom the University of Warsaw in Poland.

This new study builds on previous work by some of the same researchers who argue that superluminal perspectives can help connect quantum mechanics to Einstein’s special theory of relativity — two branches of physics that cannot currently be reconciled in a single overarching theory that describes gravity in the same way we explain other forces.

Particles can no longer be modeled as point-like objects under this framework, as we could in the more mundane 3D (plus time) perspective of the universe.

Instead, to understand what observers might see and how a superluminal particle might behave, we should turn to the kinds of field theories that underpin quantum physics.

Based on this new model, superluminal objects would look like a particle expanding through space like a bubble – similar to a wave through a field. The high-speed object, on the other hand, would “experience” different timelines.

Yet the speed of light in a vacuum would remain constant even for those observers going faster, preserving one of Einstein’s fundamental principles — a principle previously only thought about in relation to observers moving slower than the speed of light. (like all of us).

“This new definition preserves Einstein’s postulate of constancy of the speed of light in vacuum, even for superluminal observers,” says Dragan.

“That’s why our elaborate special theory of relativity doesn’t seem like a particularly extravagant idea.”

However, the researchers acknowledge that switching to a 1+3 space-time model raises some new questions while answering others. They suggest that expansion of special relativity is needed to include faster-than-light frames of reference.

That could very well borrow from quantum field theory: a combination of concepts from special relativity, quantum mechanics and classical field theory (which aims to predict how physical fields will interact with each other).

If the physicists are right, the particles of the universe would all have extraordinary properties in the expanded special theory of relativity.

One of the questions the research raises is whether we will ever be able to observe this extended behavior, but answering that will take a lot more time and a lot more scientists.

“The mere experimental discovery of a new fundamental particle is an achievement worthy of the Nobel Prize and achievable 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 a better understanding of the phenomenon of spontaneous symmetry breaking associated with the mass of the Higgs boson and other particles in the Standard modelespecially in the early universe.”

The research has been published in Classical and quantum gravity.



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