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Things that travel faster than light

It is a common belief among the people who are somewhat familiar


with the work of Einstein and even those who have studied his
relativity principle in detail that nothing can travel faster than light. But
there are certain physical phenomena that can travel faster than the
speed of light. This will come as a shock to most people, especially
those who are proud of proclaiming that the ultimate speed of
everything is that of light and nothing can travel faster than it, Einstein
proved it. But if there are phenomena which travel faster than the
speed of light in vaccum it seems necessary to discuss what Einstein
actually meant by his statement.
Einsteins statement actually tells us that the speed of light is the
ultimate speed for the transmission of messages, or of mass and
energy. So, we can say anything which isn't carrying mass, energy
and information may travel faster than light. This statement may
sound confusing, how can something which is travelling not carry any
of mass, energy or information. I will explain this by using some
examples.
Lets start from scissors, if you notice the point of intersection of
two blades you will realize that this specific point, the locus of
intersection of two blades can travel faster than c. As the scissors are
closed the blades get more and more nearly parallel and the speed at
which the intersection point move keeps on increasing and
increasing. now if the blades are long enough it may cross the
ultimate speed. Just see we have taken an object as simple as a
scissors and have broken the record. But this is just a trick, the point
of intersection is nothing but a geometrical point. We can do this trick
from all kind of geometrical points.
Just take a laser, point it at moon and the spot which it makes on
the moon can travel all across the moon in just one second. No law is
broken here. The photons travel at there usual speed its just the point
that the laser beam will be making that will cross the ultimate speed.
Now, we can all argue that whether we will be able to see this point or
not but the gist is this if we make the screen far enough than the
slight angular displacement in the position of source will make the
point projected on screen travel thousands of kilometers. In this way
we can even make a shadow travel faster than light. So, in a way
Darkness can travel faster than light. Darth lords would be really
happy to know this.
In all three cases mentioned above no mass or energy is traveling
but one may argue that we can still transfer messages using these
methods.Unfortunately, thats not true, If we take the scenario of laser
point and shadow we can easily see that no information can be

transferred from point A to B by just moving shadows and points


across them. Moreover information travels from source to these
points rather than getting transferred from one point to another. But,
scissors seems to offer a possibility. Not just scissor but any object
will serve our purpose. All we need is an object(let's take a stick) of
large enough length, we can use this stick to turn on a bulb situated
at one of its end and with the help of morse code we can use it to
transfer messages from one end to the other instantaneously. But
there is a flaw in this grand plan, in formulating this trick we have
falsely assumed the stick to be infinitely rigid so that any motion
occuring at its one end gets transferred to the other end
instantaneously. In reality, the stick is not rigid but elastic. The wave
carrying our message is transmitted through the stick with a velocity
that depends on its elastic properties. In other words, the wave
carrying the message will travel with the speed of the sound in that
medium.
Another example would be that of matter waves (waves associated
with particles). Infact, not just matter waves but certain
electromagnetic waves can also travel faster than light. Now, we need
to be very careful here. when we talk about velocitiy in case of waves,
we must keep in mind that they have two types of velocity. Phase
velocity, it is the velocity with which the phase of one frequency
component travels. Group velocity with which the wave packet
travels. It is significant to not that information and messages are
carried through wave packets i.e with group velocity. while the phase
velocity is related to phenomenas like refraction, as it carries no
information or energy it may under some circumstances get past c.
There are many more examples of things which travel faster than
light. but what we really need to understand is about the whole
concept and what relativity truly states.