Name: Mar k Grove
Date: 1993 - 1999
I have read some books about a theoretical particle called a tachyon
that can travel faster than light. Since Einstein proposed that nothing could
travel faster than light, where is this theory coming from? Is there a good
reason to believe its possibility? And if it were proven to be true, what would that mean about
time travel and all that stuff? Thanks for the help.
The tachyon does come out of Einstein's theory. Einstein didn't
actually propose that nothing could travel faster than light, merely that light
always travels at the same speed no matter how fast you are travelling relative
to that light.
Just as normal objects (you and me) cannot accelerate up to or beyond the speed
of light because it takes infinite energy, so tachyons are stuck travelling
faster than the speed of light because it would take them infinite energy to
slow down to the speed of light. Nobody has yet figured out a way to prove that a tachyon exists,
because detecting it would probably have to involve some kind of interaction
different from all the forces we know about today. It's an interesting theory,
but so far there's no proof one way or the other.
Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives
Update: June 2012