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back to article Boffins issue speeding ticket for FTL photons

Two German scientists claim to have broken the speed of light with a tunnelling photon, a pair of prisms and a gap of about three feet. According to New Scientist, Günter Nimtz and Alfons Stahlhofen from the University of Koblenz claim to have made the photon jump "instantaneously" across a barrier ranging from a few …

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Silver badge

But how fast is that ...

... compared to the speed of the average sheep?

I think we should be told!

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Speed of the average sheep.

Depending on the sheep at rest or in an excited state.

Generally, a sheep, nose to the ground will evolve at about 400 metres an hour, but can run at speeds up to 75 MPH under normal conditions of pressure and temperature when being chased by a naked welshman wearing welly boots.

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Silver badge

Or compared to the average airspeed of an unladen swallow?

African or European?

(Yes its Friday!!)

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At last...

... an explanation for how I manage to get home after a night on the town without any time appearing to have passed.

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don't let them off that easy

don't let the old codger off that easy

just because someone can disprove the old adage

lets not forget it's still a theory, it ain't fact !

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German Sceince

This so-called paradox was beaten to death years ago by Herbert Winful. If the Germans would bother to keep up with the field, they'd know that neither their observation is new, nor their explanation.

There is a review article on the topic at

http://sitemaker.umich.edu/herbert.winful/files/physics_reports_review_article__2006_.pdf

Other articles at:

http://sitemaker.umich.edu/herbert.winful/modest_contributions

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Bronze badge

In terms of sheep....

Well, it's like this:

A tunnelling sheep can travel to any point in the world in almost no time at all. Whereas normal sheep have to observe the speed limit of not out running the sheep dog.

Now some say they aren't really breaking the speed limit because they are travelling through thick matter (Basildon?) so all is right in the world once again.

So, tunnelling sheep are the best baaaah none!

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Speed of light?

Am I missing something here or aren't photons particles of light?

Surely this is therefore saying that light goes faster than light.

As if the interview on the Today program this morning wasn't confusing enough...

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They go faster

As a Welsh man I find it offensive to suggest that sheep can only run at 75mph the real top speed of a sheep is almost 90mph. Of course this makes us Welsh the second fastest nation on the planet, the English can actually catch the poor beasts

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Boffin breaks speed of thought

The only thing that was jumped to faster than the speed of light was the conclusion.

Although even trained thoroughbred racing sheep cannot run as fast as a man in a straight line, they are able to execute much tighter turns on grass due to their foot-at-each-corner design and lower centre of gravity. Such "refraction" when cornering means that it appears that the sheep is faster than a man. This effect is know as the sheep-shagger's paradox.

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Anonymous Coward

All matter exists in 1 Kg sized chunks

If I have a scale that shows the weight in kilograms, no matter what weight I put on it, it shows 1kg, 2kg, 3kg, never fractions... Does that mean all matter weights only discrete Kgs? Do I then say 'well the only possible cause is that matter exists in discrete kilogram sized chunks'? Of course it does! It must be true, because my theory is backed by the evidence I observe!

Weird thing, if I put one of my 1kg blocks on the scales, followed by a second, followed by a third, sometimes the scale shows 4Kgs, sometime 2kgs!

However the more I put on, the closer to the expected weight I get. So if I put 1000 blocks on it, my scales will almost always show 1000kgs. I call this my 'uncertainty principle', when we try to measure these 3 Kgs sometimes they are on the scales, sometimes not. The act of trying to measure them determines if they are on or off the scales.

As more are put on the scales, the probability (see complicated maths) shows how they are more predictable. Since the observation matches the complicated maths, my theory must be true!

Other weird effects I've noticed. If a shoot two of these blocks at each other at 45 degrees, I expect them to collide and go straight on. But they don't. If I put a line of scales side-by-side, some of the scales show 1, some 2, some 4, some 0. They seem to interfere with one another in a strange way, I call this my 'interference principle'. I have a complicated math theory that explains it, and since the math fits observation, my theory must be true!

Now some crazy simpletons suggest that actually my blocks don't exist in discrete 1Kg chunks, that they only appear to because the scales I'm using only MEASURE in 1kg chunks.

I call them stupid, look at all the maths there is to back up my theories! So many smart people have looked at it, they can't possibly have made a dumb mistake!

I explain it to them this way. If I throw one of my blocks at a cat, sometime it will be dead, sometimes alive. But the blocks are the same, all 1Kgs. How can that be? It's not the block that has changed, the cat is both dead and alive, and it's only when we try to determine if we can kill it, do we secure it's aliveness!

Since the cat has equal probability of surviving my 1Kg block thrown at it, this explains why when I throw 1000 blocks at 1000 cats, 500 of them die.

QED!

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Does this mean...

...I can now get from Bethnel Green to Maida Vale in one move while playing Mornington Crescent?

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Light travels below the speed of light (photons vs. waves)

Light is sometimes called a wave, when it's convenient to consider it as electromagnetic radiation. Photons are what light is called when it's convenient to consider it to be made of discreet particles*. So take your pick.

In the near vacuum of intergalactic space, light travels at the quoted "speed of light". The furthest parts of the visible universe are travelling away from us at less than, but near the speed of light, which is why we can see it. If we look in the opposite direction, the furthest parts of the universe are travelling away from us at near the speed of light, so you'd think RELATIVELY, the opposite ends of the universe are travelling away from each other at nearly twice the speed of light. But they don't: a guy called Albert E. went over all of this some time ago. The "Special Theory" explains it succinctly.

On earth, unless in a perfect vacuum, things tend to get in the way and slow the light down a bit and can absord it completely. Create a special sort of super-cold physical state of an element and you can get light to drag its feet in a controlled way.

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Back to the Future.

This was done back in 2002, by some bobbins with $500 worth of kit. Speed was supposed to be 4 billion Kph. 2.2billion Kph faster than teh speed of light. Good ol' Johnny Bobbins. Have a butchers on the New Scientist site.

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not so fast

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070816-faster-than-the-speed-of-light-no-i-dont-think-so.html

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(Written by Reg staff)

@ M. Burns

Hi there Montgomery,

"This so-called paradox was beaten to death years ago by Herbert Winful. If the Germans would bother to keep up with the field, they'd know that neither their observation is new, nor their explanation."

Yep, that'll be the paper I linked to in the story.

@ John Donovan: No, you can't, because of the June 1953 ruling in the subcommittee meeting on Causality and the Bakerloo Line. It was Sir. John Moffat who made the final decision that faster than light travel in Mornington Crescent would ultimately collapse the whole tube network, as all the staff would take the day off to visit their great grandchildren. Sorry.

Lucy

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@ John Donovan

John,

No, you would need to move to Friedrichstrasse on the Berliner U-Bahn first. However, once at Friedrichstrasse you can now move instaneously anywhere else you wish without having to transfer. This will greatly relieve the congestion you normally encounter on the Circle line.

Jim

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Anonymous Coward

@All matter exists in 1 Kg sized chunks

Great sarcasm, but completely bogus as a scientific theory. For example, how come whenever you drop any of these chunks, they always accelerate at an integer multiple of the value of 'g', never a fractional one?

Oh, plus your strawman at the very beginning: our equipment is entirely capable of measuring fractional amounts of (e.g.) the charge on an electron or the energy level of an orbital or the spin of a particle. And you know what? We never do see fractional amounts.

It's not an illusion caused by our equipment. Check out the classic Millikan oil-drop experiment, where we have equipment easily sensitive enough to measure a fraction of the charge of an electron. Nobody's ever seen it though. This doesn't prove that electrical charge is always quantized, but it sure puts the burden of proof in your court.

Just because something seems obviously stupid to you doesn't mean it is. It just means you don't understand it, and so you don't see what's wrong with your argument against it. Let's face it, your argument is pretty obvious, so unless you're completely convinced you're the greatest genius the world has ever seen and everyone else who's ever studied the matter is stupid to the point of complete imbecililty, you've got to believe it's been thought of before, and disproved. And it has been, and it has been. You just don't know that because you're too self-satisified to, y'know, actually *test* your theory or anything like that.

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PhotoBahn

Simply reckless... I hope they got a ticket!

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Bronze badge

Opaque barrier vs air gap

From the paper, Energy storage in superluminal barrier

tunneling: Origin of the “Hartman effect”: "The “Hartman effect”, in which the group delay becomes independent of thickness for opaque barriers, is shown to be a consequence of the saturation of stored energy with barrier length."

The paper says "opaque barrier" and the German scientists published their work about an air gap with the microwave photons turning angles.

Isn't this two different things? Could somebody clear this up for those of us (non-physics majors) who see a difference between an opaque barrier and an air gap with turns?

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Anonymous Coward

Flogging a dead cat

"Oh, plus your strawman at the very beginning: our equipment is entirely capable of measuring fractional amounts of (e.g.) the charge on an electron or the energy level of an orbital or the spin of a particle. And you know what? We never do see fractional amounts."

How do you measure half a photon?

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Re: They go faster

Sorry John, you seem to have more experience in the matter than me...

Then again, mine were french sheep mesured in France, and adding gravity and curvature of the earth from wales to southern france, a 15% (more or less) speed decrease could be the explanation.

Then again, maybe the sheep were just playing hard to get at that time... oh, oops. I'll get my sheepskin coat :)

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So where

are the big news ?

About 7 years ago I saw a documentory where they claimed, they send some music from Mozart at speeds 4 times faster than light using microwaves and a tunneling effect.

Tunneling has nothing to do with speed, it happens in zero time meaning instantenous. Einstein was only working with a 4 dimensional universe, would have worked with 8 like Heim he would have discovered hyperspace, which seems also to be faster than light.

Working with 11 dimensions like the string theory gives you unlimted multiverses with new sets of physics where anything is possible.

They should start working on the hyperdrive at last, really would like to leave this planet some day :-D

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Anonymous Coward

My kgs weights travel backwards in time too

"Tunneling has nothing to do with speed, it happens in zero time meaning instantenous. Einstein was only working with a 4 dimensional universe, would have worked with 8 like Heim he would have discovered hyperspace, which seems also to be faster than light."

If I have two scales, one on a table, one on the floor, connected by a chute.

If I pour 10 kgs of sand on the top those kgs move to the bottom scale.

But weird stuff happens:

Top scale, Bottom scale

10, 0

9,0 <- expected, one of the kgs is in the chute

9,1

8,2 <- wow, it travelled in zero time!

7,2

7,3

7,4 <- wow, time travel, it went back in time!!

6,4

...

Incredible but true, one of my Kgs was at the bottom before it left the top! But it must be true because I observed it, and I can make a complex equation to describe why it happens!

Simpletons suggest that what I'm seeing is an effect of the way I'm measuring. They claim I'm really seeing 7.39 3.51 with 0.1 in the chute, and that's being rounded to 7, 4.

I call them stupid, I have a better explanation. My kg matter is actually a projection of into our 3 dimensions of 14 dimensional silly string. It isn't that my 1kg chunks travel back in time, when I define kg as one of the dimensions, time travels back in them.

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string theory

@Woenk;

No eleven dimensions does not give you unlimited multiverses.

It gives you eleven dimensions in this universe, which according to most variants of string theory, M theory, Brane theory etc (if they are eleven dimension variants) gives you 3 useful ones - you might have noticed them -, and the rest are wrapped up tiny tiny ones which aren't going to get you anywhere fast. Oh, and time, but that's a bit tricky. These theories are efforts to unify Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics

If you want multiple universes, then you are looking at the multiple universe interpretation of quantum mechanics - which I think compelling -, but which is definitely the poor contender currently.

Multiple universe interpretation takes away quantum uncertainty, replacing it with 'every possibility exists' - and which means we are in an absolutely deterministic universe, and we only seem to have free will because we can't tell which of the infinite variations that exist and are compatible with the current state of the universe we are actually in.

Generally anyway. Even here there cannot be said to be agreement.

Tunnelling on the other hand I think (and I am not any sort of physicist - you can probably tell by my ham fisted understanding thus far) is a quantum effect where you are exploiting the duality of the wave/particle nature of reality - it doesn't allow you to get anywhere faster than the wave, but it does allow the particle to 'jump' to 'catch up' with the wave.

Oh, and Bethnal Green to Maida Vale has always been an acceptable 'one stopper', ever since the Harkness ruling. The game is not a real time phase state examination, you only have to have been listening last year when that brilliant reshuffle from Knightsbridge to Morden won the game.

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no more animal sex on El REG!

You guys are making me sick is there any animal

safe from putative thrustings here I understand

some places it's not unusual but this isn't one of those

places please no more beastiality well except when

it's related to physics then it's science.

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Kiwi sheep

Kiwi sheep must be the slowest on earth, since they have a negative velocity and come running whenever they see a naked Kiwi.

I'll get my coat and Akubra.

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Anonymous Coward

Why the SIC after tunnelling?

Apparently tunneling is the favoured way of our American cousin tunnelling.

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@John Stirling

No. Bethnal green to maida Vale is acceptable as a one-stopper after trumps have been reversed under the Queensferry rules. Harkness was, if you remember, widely scorned for his interpretation of the reversal. Mind you, what does one expect from someone who frequently resorts to drubbing?

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Bronze badge

They ain't microwaves, Lucy

At a wavelength of 33cm they would be classed as UHF. Are you sure it wasn't 3.3cm?

In future, I think you should stick to imperialistic measures, such as "electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength, oh, about the length of my big toe"

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