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Out Of Fairness

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Posted by Aurino Souza on July 4, 2003 17:01:41 UTC

Harv,

So that we don't end this discussion in a tone of bitterness, let me just add a comment which, even though I'm sure you will disagree with, will at least provide you a window to where I'm coming from:

" There are some physical impossibilities that we do know about (e.g., human beings with this current biological frame can only run so fast, only grow so high, etc). But, there are other things that is based on our knowledge of the cosmos that, if complete, then it is surely impossible to approach the speed of light and surpass it "

You got the whole thing backwards. The reason we know that "human beings with this current biological frame can only run so fast, only grow so high" has nothing to do with the reason we know that "it is surely impossible to approach the speed of light and surpass it". The basic difference is a simple but subtle one: I can think of ways to invalidate the assertion about human beings, but there is no way to invalidate the assertion about the speed of light. The speed of light is defined in a way that makes it impossible for any object, massive or otherwise, to exceed it. While your statement about human beings is a statement about reality, the statement that no object can move faster than light has nothing to do with reality, and therefore no experiment or observation can possibly invalidate it.

The problem here is that you don't understand the math behind the idea. If you did, you would clearly see that any object actually traveling faster than the speed of light would be observed as traveling slower in the opposite direction. The issue is not whether an object can "actually travel faster than light", the issue is whether it's possible to measure such a speed, and that is clearly not the case.

So it's not so much that physics prohibits you from visiting other galaxies; the real issue is that modern physics prohibits you from talking about it. Whatever it is that you might be thinking of when you (or anyone else, including other physicists) talk about "superluminal travel" can be real, but it cannot be "super", "luminal", "travel", or any other concept that is consistent with relativity.

As I said, I don't expect you to understand, much less agree, with any of this.

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