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Faster Than Light

Albert Einstein in 1905 suggested that travelling faster than the speed of light was impossible, both physically and mathematically. According to his Theory of Relativity, which encompasses several relativity hypothesis’, the speed of light is invariant, or the same for all observers. This means that nothing can exceed that set speed, with zero exceptions.

However, a duo of Australian scientists believe that Einstein’s theory is open for translation, and allows for an extension that might prove the theory’s “insurmountable wall” as not so unattainable after all. They believe that the equation to validate faster than light travel’s feasibility actually lies within Einstein’s theory itself.

“We started thinking about it, and we think this is a very natural extension of Einstein’s equations.” explained mathematician James Hill, who co-authored the study with Barry Fox, his University of Adelaide colleague. There is, however, a rather large barrier to their new equation, which the duo hopes to solve shortly with further analysis. Their equation in its current form states that when a spaceship or celestial object travels faster and faster, its mass decreases until it reaches zero at infinite velocity.

They’ve described their new hypothesis as incomplete, but nonetheless a possible breakthrough in relativity theory. “The actual business of going through the speed of light is not defined,” Hill explained. “The theory we’ve come up with is simply for velocities greater than the speed of light.”

Other theories, such as the Alcubierre Drive, suggests that reaching the speed of light is impossible, but offers a hypothetical solution. Miguel Alcubierre, the theoretical physicist behind the hypothesis, believes that a spacecraft could be outfitted with a drive capability that would contract space in front of it, and expand space behind it. The drive would look like a giant bubble, and would not actually travel at light speed. The spaceship would nonetheless travel in real-time inside the bubble, but anything outside the warp would be accelerated, making a two-week journey seem like 20 years back on Earth.

Scientists such as Hill and Cox are convinced that Einstein’s theory can be manipulated or loop-holed to allow for faster than light travel in some fashion or another. Whether it can be found through giant warp bubbles, or by physically exceeding the Einsteinian speed barrier, many experts are optimistic that we can overcome the age-old obstacle, much like Chuck Yeager when he broke the speed of sound. Nothing is off the table as we come closer and closer to better understanding our universe.


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