The Big Think

August 16, 2007

Speedy

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 9:05 am

Two German scientists have reportedly broken the speed of light using two prisms and microwave photons:

[T]wo German physicists claim to have forced light to overcome its own speed limit using the strange phenomenon of quantum tunnelling, in which particles summon up the energy to cross an apparently uncrossable barrier.

Their experiments focused on the travel of microwave photons — energetic packets of light — through two prisms.

When the prisms were moved apart, most photons reflected off the first prism they encountered and were picked up by a detector.

But a few appeared to “tunnel” through a gap separating them as if the prisms were still held together.

Although these photons had travelled a longer distance, they arrived at their detector at the same time as the reflected photons. This suggests that the transit between the two prisms was faster than the speed of light.

I kinda doubt this, actually, since the speed of light is so well established as a fundamental limitation of our universe. It seems more likely that there was either something wrong with the experiment, or that the phenomenon does represent new knowledge, but doesn’t violate the limitations of “c”. Extraordinary claims demand yadda, yadda. It seems like every day we get some odd little scientific experiment or observation and the popular press falls all over itself pushing out headlines that proclaim “Is Free Energy Far Behind?”, or “Time Travel May Be Possible!”. Ugh. Might as well use the Big Font to declare “Lose Weight While You Sleep!”. Why anybody would get their science from the newspapers is a mystery to me.

you can go here for the story.

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