Faster-Than-Light Travel of the 'Tachyon,' University of Miami, Spring of 2010

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

Good evening, After transferring into the University at the University of Miami from the aeronautics program at Broward College in January of 2010, I discovered that I enjoyed the curriculum of physics in particular.

One evening near the end of the semester, Colin Francis, an acoustical engineering student, and I were studying the equations for general relativity in the library in preparation for an upcoming examination. We were reviewing the equations which governed the effects of ‘time dilation’ (when an object is moving very close to the speed of light, an object will experience a ‘slowing’ of time in relation to a static observer). Colin and I proposed a thought experiment: what would happen if the speed on an object were to equal or exceed the speed of light? The truth of Albert Einstein’s theory of relatively had earlier been empirically demonstrated to Colin and I during laboratory experiments for the physics course, and we had been assured by the professor that faster-than-light travel was an impossibility, nevertheless we entered the speed of light as a value into one of the equations developed by Albert Einstein regarding relativistic kinetic energy for in order to find out why for ourselves.

At the speed of light, a particle will operate under ‘zero time’ or, effectively, the particle will experience arriving at its new destination instantaneously. Essentially, a particle capable of moving at the speed of light would be capable of teleportation from its own frame of reference.

Additionally, when analyzing the equivalent kinetic energy of a particle at this speed, Colin and I found that the particle would contain an infinite energy. Not a near-infinite energy, but a truly infinite amount of power – enough to destroy galaxies. This result would mean that, even if one were to burn all of the rocket fuel in the universe to accelerate this particle, the particle would still fall just short of the velocity needed to achieve instantaneous travel.

Nevertheless, we continued in our investigation and asked what might happen if a particle was able to break through the speed of light barrier. If this were to happen, instead of the ‘zero time’ value that had been predicted earlier, the time elapsed equation between two different locations for a particle travelling faster than the speed of light produced an interesting result: the square root of a negative number.

In physics and in mathematics, the square root of negative one (Ö-1) is represented by the letter i for ‘imaginary,’ due to the fact that such a number is mathematically impossible. Nevertheless the quantity i is used in math, physics, and in engineering for a variety of useful purposes such as describing the behavior of hypothetical physical phenomena such as the tachyon.

Through the experiments that Colin and I conducted, we unwittingly discovered a conceptual particle called a tachyon, which is an imaginary particle which travels greater than the speed of light. In practice, intuitively, the tachyon is a particle which moves faster than the speed of light and under a relativistic ‘imaginary’ time. Therefore, in principle, the tachyon would arrive at its new location before it left the previous location. In effect, if the tachyon were possible to produce, this particle could represent the engineering basis for the development of a time machine.

Colin and I eventually discontinued our hypothetical inquiries, and we refocused on the material required to succeed in the upcoming examination as the time then was well past midnight and the library closed at 2:00am. Nevertheless, investigations such as these provided me with an excitement and a joy for scientific inquiries.

Colin and I eventually received an “A” in the University Physics III course and the fulfillment that Colin and I gained through our investigations was well worth the time invested. I wish that all might have an opportunity, such as I have had, to explore topics on their own in order to arrive at empirical truths.

Thank you for your time in reading this post and please have a good day. Sincerely, Winston

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