Saturday, September 24, 2011

Faster than light is not time travel

You may have heard that the folks at CERN have reported initial findings of neutrinos going faster than the speed of light. Naturally lots of commentators immediately start talking about the ability to go back in time. Just so you know, that's not what faster than light suggests.

It would be a problem for physics and for time pieces, both of which are based on the premise that nothing goes faster than light. However, consider this scenerio:

Boy throws baseball faster than the speed of light at a window. You see the window break before you see the ball released from the hand. The boy cannot not throw the ball at this point. It's already been thrown, or else the window would not have broken. You just haven't perceived it yet.

Perhaps, if confirmed, it could lead to early warning systems of some sort, or be used for long distance communication, but no, you can't go back in time.

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