Re: Tachyons (very entertaining)

Philos Anthropy (
Mon, 15 Dec 1997 09:18:08 -0600

Thanks. This was a fun e-mail. -Bill.

John K Clark wrote:

> Thanks for using NetForward!
> v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v^v
> I first sent this to the list about a year ago, seemed like a good time to
> send it again.
> ===========================================================================
> Relativity does not forbid anything from moving faster than light, only stuff
> that has mass or energy or carries information. Strangely, some things have
> none of these attributes, although calling them "things" may be stretching a
> point. It's been proven experimentally that some quantum effects propagate
> instantly and for unlimited distances. One system can influence another
> system on the other side of the universe without the slightest delay, but it
> carries no information because the receiving system just changes from one
> apparently random mode to another, it's only when you compare the two systems
> (and that can only be done at light speed or less) does the correspondence
> between the two systems become obvious. The 2 random modes have equal energy
> so energy is not transferred either.
> A less spooky example could be found in the idea of Phase Speed. I'm standing
> in the center of a huge hollow sphere 2 light years in diameter, I've been
> there for a long time and I'm holding a powerful LASER that makes a spot of
> light on the distant wall of the sphere one light year away. Suddenly, still
> holding the LASER and in the space of one second I make a complete 360
> degree turn. Exactly 2 years later an observer standing at the same place
> would see the spot move much faster than light, it would travel the entire
> circumference of the sphere, 2PI or 6.28 light years in only one second.
> No photon moved faster than light however, and no energy or information
> between any two points traveled faster than light. A photon of light moves
> at light speed and carries energy and information, a spot of light can move
> at any speed but carries neither energy nor information.
> And then there are Tachyons. Actually relativity does not forbid matter
> moving faster than light , it forbids matter moving AT the speed of light.
> That's almost the same thing but not quite. Perhaps a particle could somehow
> tunnel past the speed of light or maybe Tachyons have always moved faster
> than light from the first instant of The Big Bang..
> People have looked for Tachyons but have never found the slightest evidence
> that they exist in nature, much to the relief of physicists. Tachyons are an
> embarrassment, the faster they move less energy they have, one that moved
> just a little faster than light would have a lot of energy, one that moved at an
> infinite velocity would have zero energy. Much worse, Tachyons move backward
> in time, they arrive at their destination before they start. You could
> communicate with the past.
> Even though they have never been detected and the laws of physics do not
> demand that Tachyons exist, they don't seem to forbid them either. Most think
> nature is totalitarian, if it's not forbidden then it's mandatory.
> What about the logical paradoxes that would result from communicating with
> the past, wouldn't that be enough to rule out Tachyons? It would if anybody
> saw them, but suppose nature rubbed out any witnesses to her crime and
> brought a universe to an end that was about to see a paradox.
> Damn, I just knocked my coffee cup off the table, what a mess! I'm REALLY not
> in the mood to clean it up, I think I'll use my Gateway 14,400 Tachyon modem
> and send myself some E mail 5 minutes ago. I'll just hit the send key and
> ....brought a universe to an end that was about to see a paradox. Pardon me,
> I just got some E mail from John, let's see what it says " Dear John: Be
> careful with that coffee cup near your elbow, you're about to knock it over."
> Wow, John is right, that cup is dangerously near the edge, I'll put it in a
> safe place. It was nice of John to warn me about it, it's too bad that means
> oblivion for him and his entire universe but that's life, nature just will
> not allow anybody to observe a paradox.
> I know what you're thinking, How could John be so stupid, he must be
> completely out of his mind, why else would he deliberately buy an obsolete
> 14,400 Tachyon modem? Well, call me cheap if you want but I still think the
> 28,800 model is too expensive, besides I have it on VERY good authority that
> Gateway will drop the price next year.
> John K Clark
> Version: 2.6.i
> iQCzAgUBMvtQkH03wfSpid95AQFNOATrB0lcT9KbYZV1u2Mx49fLOZ1NM+ZxjHpH
> tseHBt3zxeoqiTdOgT78FhdDo8KsAbVDFwFYWNtJr+NpgHOEcWwqx1G2tDJf0MSj
> Vz/PLddO+8RNMLhrgVBAZsalGW9ofKLJpHWFYfpHl8S88o/OSWfJ+7cQrK7mTilC
> eKdvEuZYQF8ywhR+5c1U+ptcXDGHt5ZJIrf1XBQy8aKQOsrIXDM=
> =1wMG