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I'm Not An Expert On GR Either, But...

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Posted by Nicholas on November 8, 2002 17:40:50 UTC

"Your belief that nothing can go faster than the speed of light is academic dogma. Experiments have proven you to be wrong."

I think the statement "nothing can go faster than the speed of light" can still be taken is true if viewed in the proper context. The things that we believe travel at speeds greater than light may not qualify as "things" in the usual sense, at least the ones that I'm aware.

We talk about the phase velocity of wave packets being faster than light. This seems to me little more than a mathematical construct, as the phase components can't really exist independent of the photon. It may also be an artifact of a misrepresentation of the phenomena. I would venture to guess that using wave packets to describe light and matter is only a crude approximation that will be modified in the future. I would apply a similar argument to virtual particles.

Another thing often described as moving faster than light is information. Particularly in quantum mechanics, we can supposedly propagate information about state changes instantaneously. Again, I'm not sure we can refer to information as having an independent existence in the same way that light and matter do.

If you were referring to something other than what I just described, please show a link because I'm curious to know. As for GR, a discussion of the "propagation speed" of gravity may well be a misplaced conceptualization. However, I am not an expert on GR, so I am not qualified to tackle that issue. I'm just trying to throw out some ideas to enrich the argument.

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