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Name: Mark T Grove
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Question:
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 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?



Replies:
The tachyon does come out of Einstein's theory. Einstein did not actually propose that nothing could travel faster than light, merely that light always travels at the same speed no matter how fast you are traveling relative to that light. Just as normal objects (you and me) cannot acceler- ate up to or beyond the speed of light because it takes infinite energy, so tachyons are stuck traveling 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 is an interesting theory, but so far there is no proof one way or the other.

Hawley


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