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Meaningless To Say, "Matter Cannot Excede The Speed Of Light"

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Posted by Timothy Storer on April 21, 2003 11:09:54 UTC

I reading Einsteins Theory of reletivity, I was inspired by the chapter that supports the idea that one cannot speak meaningfully about a distance event at a particular point in time, and that one must learn to speak only of time-space events.

As lightening strikes railroad tracks at a distanct location, the moment of the strike is undeterminable as it can take place at different points in time depending on the frame of reference.

That leaves one floundering for a way to describe ANY event. Thankfully, we can however say that, "lightening APPEARS to strike at some APPARENTLY distanct location for an observer at some specific time-space location".

My so-far limited understanding of this concept brought me describe all non-local events as only how it appears to an observer at a specific time-space location. If there is another way to precieve non-local events, then I need a little mind-expanding push to get there and would appreciate and help outside of 1960's mind expanding drugs.

My thoughts on the universal speed limit currently it that it must mean that matter cannot ever APPEAR to excede the speed of light for any obverver, but I know that this is not true. A simple example is that if an object were to leave from a distant location, say 1 lightyear away, on route to earth at any time and then arrive and if it were traverling quickly, say 90% of the speed of light. We wouldn't see it take off with our telescopes for a whole year. When we finally see it take off, it would be 90% of the way through it's journey. 36 and a half days later it would arrive. During that time we could track it's progress from 1 lightyear away to hear, but it would appear to take 36.5 days to traverse the distance, so it would APPEAR to be traveling at 10 times the speed of light.

Please, please, tell me wheather the above scenario would appear as I have described it, or if I am missing something major here.

If the above scenario is decribed well then it IS possible for an object to APPEAR to excede the speed of light. Therefore the universal speed limit is NOT refering to APPARENT speeds as gauged be any observer, but rather ACTUAL speeds of objects. But ACTUAL speeds are meaningless. Any object always have a velocity of zero to the frame of referance that follows it, and for any other frame of referance, the speed varies depending of the frame. The object in the above story has many different velocities depending on the frame of referance.

One more modified scenario... (please find the hole in my description. I will not sleep well again until this is answered.)

Assuming that it IS possible for an object to APPEAR to excede the speed of light. I am on a spaceship destined for earth from a distance of 1 lightyear. I travel at some unknown velocity. Earth telescopes watching me departure from where I start track my speed as APPEARING to be 10 times the speed of light. (As in the above scenario) I am also watching earth is I approach. Earth's speed reletive to itself is zero and my speed reletive to my self is zero, so I should also track earths appoach to me and precieve the same phenomena... that earth APPEARS to approach at 10 times the speed of light. (Right?!?!?) So 36 and a half days later(3.66 on a leapyear) I arrive home at earth. Only a little over a month older than when I left the distant location.

If all this is also true then it is not only posible for an object to APPEAR to excede the speed of light, but for a traveler to seem to cross the great expanses of space while experiencing a very small passage of time.

There has got to be a major gap in all this. Please let me know what it is or explain it to me in a differnet way.

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