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Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman asks: Can we travel faster than the speed of light? Photo Credit: Discovery Communications

Through the Wormhole Episode: Can We Travel Faster Than Light?

20 Jul , 2011

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Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman has entered into its second season and is working to highlight topics as physical as space flight and as metaphysical as whether or not we have a sixth sense. The show is hosted by Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman and airs on Wednesday nights on the Science Channel. This week’s show deals with a subject that many space flight enthusiasts have wondered for some time – can we really travel faster than the speed of light?

If the universe has a speed limit – it is considered to be the speed of light – at least we think it is the limit. Ever since Albert Einstein introduced us to the Theory of Relativity – we have been seeking ways if not to break this limit – then at least to bend it – a lot. For according to Einstein – it is impossible for humans to go faster than light. Scientists working in laboratories across the globe are trying to prove Einstein wrong – but can they? Time will tell and Through the Wormhole will take a peek at their efforts.

The show tackling the question of light speed will air on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 10 p.m. EDT.

It turns out that Freeman himself has often pondered many of the questions raised on the show and he wanted to share his wonder with the rest of world.

“My love affair with science and the unknown began for me in my high school physics class,” said Freeman. “My mind sprung open – all because of the questions I asked. In this new season of Through the Wormhole, we will explore ten new mystifying questions that will change the way you look at the world around you.”

Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary are executive producers for Revelations Entertainment which produces the show. As mentioned, the show is entering its second season; this was confirmed in February of this year. The show was conceived as utilizing an element of pop culture (in this case Morgan Freeman, a celebrity, as the show’s narrator) with deep questions that have confronted mankind, in some cases since the dawn of time. By all accounts the show has been very successful.


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forj
Member
forj
July 20, 2011 6:01 AM

gonna have to agree.. im a big fan of “through the wormhole”, but i was really hoping for some perspective from a science standpoint that i could use as a basis going into watching the new episode.. this seemed like a halfhearted attempt at just putting together some words to promote the airing of the new episode of this show.

soliton1
Member
soliton1
July 20, 2011 2:35 PM

If this show reaches just one young, inquiring mind and sparks a thirst for physics, then it has done the world a huge favor.

Frankie Teo
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Frankie Teo
July 20, 2011 7:14 AM

The singularity or Portal is beyond our current science, so there is no conventional scientific answer. However, to postulate, one has to go metaphysical. This means one’s body and spaceship domain has to match the frequency of the Portal gate with mental intention telepathy. Once activated, will teleport through the Portal to the other side in “no time”. It will take us several million years to acquire this technology if humankind remains the current state of being. Some of us already know that other ET groups have such capability.

Brian
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Brian
July 20, 2011 7:58 AM

Don’t you think we are already there as far as using “mental intention telepathy” already? Look at DMT for instance. Your spacecraft is your mind. Sub atomic particles flying faster than the speed of light possibly into other universes which communicate with us by thought.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 20, 2011 4:42 PM

Elementary particles have been found to have the same relativistic speed limit.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 20, 2011 4:41 PM

“there is no conventional scientific answer.”

That is a misunderstanding how science works. See other comments how we already know this is impossible (or unlikely, if you want to be positive) from current physics.

SteveZodiac
Member
SteveZodiac
July 20, 2011 7:56 AM

Sounds like sci-fi but yesterday I was reading one of the science feeds where they hope to superposition a microscopic glass sphere over a significant distance (google superposition glass sphere).

Anonymous
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Anonymous
July 20, 2011 9:40 AM
So many noise about nothing, and nothing about real thing – http://www.federalspace.ru/main.php?id=2&nid=12007 “The RadioAstron project’s exceptional sensitivity could allow the connected telescopes to peer into black holes and resolve the event horizon, the point at which nothing — not even light — can escape a black hole’s immense gravitational grasp. When tied together, RadioAstron’s telescopes have a resolution of 7 microarcseconds. That’s thousands of times better than the Hubble Space Telescope, which has a peak resolution between 0.05 and 0.1 arcseconds. The RadioAstron project could potentially answer the question of whether the galaxy’s core actually contains the mouth of a wormhole, a theorized shortcut through space and time, according to the Lebedev Physical Institute’s Astro Space Center, a… Read more »
WaxyMary
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WaxyMary
July 20, 2011 11:48 PM
@GEmin1, The news is slightly different to what you claim, those hopes and dreams might not be as within reach as we would wish… newest article today’s date (July 20, 2011) from the site you mention is extracted below. The Spectrum-R is in the planned orbit though, if that is the news you mean. –from the english version pages– Russian astrophysical observatory Spectrum-R has reached the targeted orbit. The scientific spacecraft successfully separated from the Fregat-SB upper stage at 10.06 a.m. MSK. Spectrum-R was injected into orbit with altitude of about 340 thousand km. The launch of Zenith-3M rocket with Fregat-SB upper stage and Spectrum-R occurred from Baikonur’s pad 45 on July 18, at 6.31 a.m. MSK. Spectrum-R,… Read more »
hoho
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hoho
July 20, 2011 9:52 AM

There is quite a few articles where physicists postulate particles traveling faster than light at all times (tachyons).-accordingly, such particles are incapable of ”slowing” to the speed of light-the counterpart is where mass in our known universe can’t travel fast enough to reach the speed of light. How do we meet the tachyons-it appears impossible. I’m incapable of adding to this interesting article.

hoho
Guest
hoho
July 20, 2011 9:52 AM

There is quite a few articles where physicists postulate particles traveling faster than light at all times (tachyons).-accordingly, such particles are incapable of ”slowing” to the speed of light-the counterpart is where mass in our known universe can’t travel fast enough to reach the speed of light. How do we meet the tachyons-it appears impossible. I’m incapable of adding to this interesting article.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 20, 2011 4:49 PM

Tachyons are virtual, their energy is complex, not real. They pop up in diverse physics like string theory, as virtual particles are wont to do. They are relativistic effective entities like holes are in a semiconductor, if you will, with no actual existence.

It would be extraordinary physics, currently lacking extraordinary evidence, if they were actually real.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
July 20, 2011 11:54 AM

The Flash can run faster than the speed of light.

http://black1blue.blogspot.com/2011/07/alienware-m18x.html

WaxyMary
Member
WaxyMary
July 20, 2011 11:54 PM

dated Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Alienware, really, advertising your own reviews and the blog that contains it in your sig line, please.

Mary

WaxyMary
Member
WaxyMary
July 20, 2011 11:54 PM

dated Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Alienware, really, advertising your own reviews and the blog that contains it in your sig line, please.

Mary

Duncan Ivry
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Duncan Ivry
July 20, 2011 12:22 PM

Based on real physics — and not on fantasy physics — the answer to the question “can we travel faster than light?” is: No.

Nothing new here. It’s boring.

Duncan Ivry
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Duncan Ivry
July 20, 2011 12:22 PM

Based on real physics — and not on fantasy physics — the answer to the question “can we travel faster than light?” is: No.

Nothing new here. It’s boring.

squidgeny
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squidgeny
July 20, 2011 12:46 PM

If I remember correctly from university, the most persuasive proof that nothing can ever travel faster than light comes from taking a look at the Lorentz equations. Can someone with a bit more math-fu confirm that?

Anonymous
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Anonymous
July 21, 2011 8:57 AM

I agree with you if you add “untill now”

Lawrence B. Crowell
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Lawrence B. Crowell
July 20, 2011 12:57 PM
I am going to give an answer of no, with I think is a measure of confidence. There are a number of reasons for this. For those who hold fast to dreams of Star Trek warp drives and science fiction ideas of faster than light travel this is not the answer you might want to hear, but reality can be a harsh mistress. I know, for in high school and to a degree in college I held out expectations for these things. Some deep learning about things leads me to the conclusion that the ability to communicate information faster than light, which of course includes traveling faster than light, is highly unlikely. First off, there is no way… Read more »
squidgeny
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squidgeny
July 20, 2011 1:56 PM

You lost me in your third paragraph… god-damn that is some techno-babble if ever I heard it

Edit: I’m sure it’s sound, but boy is it way over my head!

Daryle Lockhart
Guest
July 20, 2011 2:15 PM

yeah he lost me too, and I understood what he was saying, it just sounded like “I can’t see how it can be done therefore there’s no way”. Which, at the end of the day is “the end of science”. What was impossible yesterday is commonplace today.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
July 20, 2011 2:43 PM
If faster than light communications and travel were possible that might actually be the end of physics. In effect the universe “makes no sense.” The clear case is with time travel. Faster than light = time travel, for the two are transformable into each other. In such a world the laws of thermodynamics don’t hold, events can spontaneously occur by violating conservation laws, you can go back in time and give the Third Reich atomic bombs so they win the war (which would preclude your own birth), and … . In effect the universe is not only chaos, but nonsense. If physics is to end I would rather it end with some understanding of observable foundational principles than… Read more »
Justin Hartberger
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Justin Hartberger
July 20, 2011 4:12 PM
The way I’ve always understood it, a lot of the talk about the speed of light and time travel has always been a matter of perception. Now I know you are vastly more qualified to comment on it than I, but I’m sure the thoughts of the laymen in regards to this tend towards the concept of a simple misunderstanding of the whole thing. Essentially – if going the speed of light causes time to stop, and going faster than the speed of light would send you back in time, why does light not propagate instantly – IE – if a person going the speed of light would ‘stop time’ why does light take 8 minutes to go… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
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Lawrence B. Crowell
July 20, 2011 6:05 PM
The Alcubierre warp drive compresses a region of space in front of it and proportionately expands it in the back. If this zone of compression is a 1 to 10 factor this has the effect of shrinking the distance the craft moves by the same factor. So a trip to alpha centuri is reduced from 4.3 light years to .43 light years. This is as observed on the warp bubble frame. This compression also means the effective speed is v = 10c. The solution for this spacetime has particle-like horizons, which puts the center of the bubble (where your space craft is) in a Rindler wedge that is causally decoupled from the region where one must control this… Read more »
Monica
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July 20, 2011 4:59 PM
I’m absolutely intrigued by this show! Some concepts I find hard to believe and seem like adult versions of theories developed in childhood fantasies but it still makes me stop and think more than any other everyday show. I work for DISH and have recently made the transition to HD programming; it makes such a difference and all the outer-space shots/simulations are amazing. I think logically, time-travel to the past makes no sense and logic is what I use and is applicable to everything; it is what holds this universe together. As far as time travel into the past goes, I’m with lcrowell; if it was possible the Universe would literally be nonsense. How would I be able… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
July 20, 2011 6:30 PM
Given the choice of a universe where there are some rational rules that we can observe that also limit our capabilities or powers, and a world with absolute chaos and hugely expanded powers for ourselves, most physicists would prefer the first of these. I would prefer that we manage to find some fundamental principles at some time this century, preferably before mid-century, which we might be able to get some observational data on. The alternative would mean that the universe is ultimately without some principles of this sort. I could go into deeper discussion on this, where our physical theories seem to often be effective theories, where underneath them is something even more fundamental. It might also be… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
July 21, 2011 3:31 AM
Finding a set of principles or rational rules would be immensely satisfying. I feel the search for underlying order to the universe is our substitute quest, analogous in emotional consequence to that of religious or ideologies who seek purpose to life. If we no longer conceptualize existence in terms of “meaning,” what then? What if the term itself is merely a human abstraction. That our existence is the result of a quantum fluctuation that – fortunate be damned – was bound to happen given the circumstances surrounding the Big Bang. The question remains: what drives us? If there is in fact no meaning; that meaning is what we make of our circumstances, or that the very question itself… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
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Lawrence B. Crowell
July 21, 2011 1:03 PM

I am putting my response to this above, for this is becoming to crowded into a narrow column.

LC

WaxyMary
Member
WaxyMary
July 21, 2011 12:03 AM

Way to go LC.

The math is actually much more dense than LC’s encapsulated thumbnail, be glad, be very glad.

Mary

henk
Member
henk
July 20, 2011 2:01 PM

James F. Woodward is trying to create a Reactionless drive with the mach effect. He also talks about how to create a wormhole. I read a article on centauri dreams about it. He talks about the wormhole on youtube if you search for mach effect. I am not really a expert about it all. I read you need jupiter mass of exotic matter. Where are to going to get something like that

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
July 20, 2011 3:37 PM
It is hard to know about the Mach effect. So far there has been no real physics worked out with it. The inertia here determines inertia there has some similarities with the Lense-Thirring effect in general relativity. Yet so far nobody has really found how the Mach effect works with GR. I have this idea, which BTW is wrong and meant to be, but it involves the inflation field of de Sitter cosmology. The idea is that we might be able to collimate the field so that space expands along some beam or narrow cone. In that way one could generate a sort of anti-gravity beam that would be a sort of propulsion system. The inflationary expansion of… Read more »
solarx2
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solarx2
July 20, 2011 9:48 PM

as soon as I saw the title of the article I got excited to read LC’s comments smile I had suspected from reading about relativity that faster-than-light-travel would distort the ordered passage of time so severely that any apparent laws or ordering of physics would collapse into total nonsense. your description for this is very concise, so thank you for spending the time to write it!

Anonymous
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Anonymous
July 21, 2011 1:36 AM

It’s time well spent. I look forward to your thoughts on the fundamentals.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
July 21, 2011 1:04 PM
There was a cartoon many years ago which featured in a set of boxes organisms with the thought bubbles that read, “Eat, grow, have sex, reproduce — repeat.” The final box had a human there with the thought bubble, “What is it all about?” The property of intelligence in our case is the ability to project ourselves onto the world, other people (fictional characters etc), gods and some idea of our having a purpose in this universe. Religious ideas are such projections. Many of the books of the Bible are highly imaginative and fantastical ideas of this sort, particularly the books of the Torah and then the Christian narratives heap more on this. In between is the counter-spin… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
July 22, 2011 3:49 AM

Agreed. Well put.

EdR
Member
EdR
July 20, 2011 2:09 PM
Based on the few of the first season’s episodes that I saw, I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to the producers and reserve criticism. What I see is a program that asks questions that most scientists in the field have a quick (and almost surely correct) answer for, but that still intrigue the public, and then answers them rather well and in keeping with scientific understanding. I certainly get tired of dramatic music, graphics of wormholes and flashing quarks, and open-ended conclusions that could leave one feeling that [pick one: time travel, faster-than-light travel] are just around the corner. But this program is also trying to compete with all the junk programs about crop circles… Read more »
EdR
Member
EdR
July 20, 2011 2:09 PM
Based on the few of the first season’s episodes that I saw, I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to the producers and reserve criticism. What I see is a program that asks questions that most scientists in the field have a quick (and almost surely correct) answer for, but that still intrigue the public, and then answers them rather well and in keeping with scientific understanding. I certainly get tired of dramatic music, graphics of wormholes and flashing quarks, and open-ended conclusions that could leave one feeling that [pick one: time travel, faster-than-light travel] are just around the corner. But this program is also trying to compete with all the junk programs about crop circles… Read more »
WilhelmusDeWilde
Guest
WilhelmusDeWilde
July 20, 2011 10:49 AM

Information is going faster whith entangled particles.
The velocity of light c is a subjective speed, related to its own area, this area can co faster then light itself compared with other areas.
Going faster then light means in my opinion that we go back in time in a paralel Universe, killing your grandfather there has no influence on the departure Universe.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 20, 2011 4:39 PM

Quibbles aside, I read it as an info and shout out.

ProfMOZ
Member
ProfMOZ
July 20, 2011 4:42 PM

Of course it will be possible to move faster than the speed of light…
when physical conditions change.

Think outside the box, carbon copies wink

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 20, 2011 5:25 PM
Freeman is a favorite actor of mine. This is one extraordinarily good reason among many others. As for the question I would have thunk the nowadays obvious “No” would have sufficed; the evidence has amassed over recent years. Alas. I’m adding my layman peanuts to lcrowell’s expert tour de force: – There is, surprise, surprise, a simple anthropic argument of why FTL doesn’t happen. Stated in Fermi question terms: “If time travel was possible,* where are the time travelers?” – More physically engaging is the problem of GR. As someone said recently, roughly: “Sure there are GR time travel solutions. If they work, the universe destroys.” – There is a paper that explains the GR problem as so… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
July 20, 2011 7:18 PM
The question is extremely fascinating, for it hits at the heart of the cosmic censorship and chronology protection hypotheses. The first of this tells us that no timelike singularity can exist outside of the cloaking of an event horizon. If this does exist then orbits around the singularity have branch cuts that send such orbits onto multiple sheets in complex variables are similar to Riemann’s sheets. These in effect are time loops. The chronology protection conjecture is that closed timelike loops do not exist. The Hawking-Penrose energy conditions are necessary conditions for these conjectures, but the sufficient condition has not been proven to my knowledge. To plug my work, here is how I think the proof works, and… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 20, 2011 5:47 PM
A nitpick or rather an opinion on the article would be that such questions whether we have a 6th sense is empirical. Metaphysics is philosophy and have no bearing on reality. (For every philosophy we can construct another saying something else. And we can’t tell which is wrong, so there is nothing correct in that either. It is over 2000 years of result-less story telling.) That said, it *is* a good place to speculate on physics. I understand the popularity of the idea that “information” somehow underlies physics. However it is not compelling physics, as information is relative a specific physical system and not an absolute. How do you generalize and test that? Conversely I don’t understand the… Read more »
lomitus
Member
lomitus
July 20, 2011 9:16 PM
This is just my always and ever so humble opinion but another fact is that the future will NEVER be created by the naysayers. A person can quote all the techno-babble they wish saying “why” we can’t do something but ultimately that really doesn’t do ANYONE any good at all. If that’s really all there is to it, then we should all probably just move back into caves, forget about space flight altogether and simply wait for the world to end because none of this really even matters. Personally I can not and will not accept that. Once there was a very old saying, “if man were meant to fly, he’d have wings” and certainly AT ONE TIME… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
July 20, 2011 10:20 PM

This is not naysaying any more than saying perpetual motion machines are not going to become a technology standard of the future is pure naysaying. It can be that reality can astound theory, but I think in this case it is likely that there is no FTL.

LC

Meldro
Member
Meldro
July 21, 2011 4:52 AM

What happened to the observer?
FTL and timetravel are relative to the observer.
That dosnt mean it is not possible.

Meldro
Member
Meldro
July 21, 2011 4:55 AM

What happened to the observer?
Isn’t FTL and time travel relative to the observer?

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