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

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

Nothing can go faster than light. It is a rule of physics woven into the very fabric of Einstein’s special theory of relativity. The faster something goes, the closer it gets to its perspective of freezing time to a standstill.

Go faster still and you run into time-reversal problems, playing with notions of causality.

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

What they have come up with is an “extension of special relativity” which combines three temporal dimensions with a single spatial dimension (“1+3 space-time”), unlike the three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension we are all used to.

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

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

This new study is based on previous work from some of the same researchers who postulate that superluminal perspectives could help link quantum mechanics to Einstein’s. special theory of relativity – two branches of physics that cannot currently be reconciled into a single general theory that describes gravity in the same way we explain other forces.

Particles can no longer be modeled as point objects under this framework, as we could in the more mundane (more temporal) 3D perspective of the Universe.

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

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

Still, the speed of light in a vacuum would remain constant even for observers going faster than it, which preserves one of Einstein’s fundamental principles, a principle that had previously only been thought of in relation to to observers traveling slower than the speed of light. (like all of us).

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

“So our special extended relativity doesn’t seem like a particularly outlandish idea.”

However, the researchers acknowledge that switching to a 1+3 space-time model raises some new questions, even as it answers others. They suggest that the theory of special relativity needs to be extended to incorporate faster-than-light reference frames.

This may involve a loan of 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 physicists are right, all particles in the Universe would have extraordinary properties in extended special relativity.

One of the questions raised by the research is whether we could ever observe this widespread behavior, but answering that will require much more time and many more scientists.

“The mere experimental discovery of a new fundamental particle is a feat worthy of the Nobel Prize and feasible 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 particle and other particles in the Standard modelespecially in the early Universe.”

The research was published in Classical and quantum gravity.



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