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Faster-than-light

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For other uses, see Faster than the speed of light (disambiguation).
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Faster-than-light (also superluminal or FTL) communication and travel refer to the
propagation of information or matter faster than the speed of light. Under the special theory of
relativity, a particle (that has rest mass) with subluminal velocity needs infinite energy to
accelerate to the speed of light, although special relativity does not forbid the existence of
particles that travel faster than light at all times (tachyons).
On the other hand, what some physicists refer to as "apparent" or "effective" FTL[1][2][3][4]
depends on the hypothesis that unusually distorted regions of spacetime might permit matter to
reach distant locations in less time than light could in normal or undistorted spacetime. Although
according to current theories matter is still required to travel subluminally with respect to the
locally distorted spacetime region, apparent FTL is not excluded by general relativity.
Examples of FTL proposals are the Alcubierre drive and the traversable wormhole, although
their physical plausibility is uncertain.

Contents

1 FTL travel of non-information


o 1.1 Daily sky motion
o 1.2 Light spots and shadows
o 1.3 Apparent FTL propagation of static field effects
o 1.4 Closing speeds
o 1.5 Proper speeds
o 1.6 How far can one travel from the Earth?
o 1.7 Phase velocities above c
o 1.8 Group velocities above c
o 1.9 Universal expansion
o 1.10 Astronomical observations
o 1.11 Quantum mechanics
1.11.1 Hartman effect
1.11.2 Casimir effect
1.11.3 EPR Paradox
1.11.4 Delayed choice quantum eraser
2 FTL communication possibility
3 Justifications
o 3.1 Faster light (Casimir vacuum and quantum tunnelling)
o 3.2 Give up (absolute) relativity

3.3 Space-time distortion


3.4 Heim theory
3.5 MiHsC/Quantised inertia
3.6 Lorentz symmetry violation
3.7 Superfluid theories of physical vacuum
4 Time of flight of neutrinos
o 4.1 MINOS experiment
o 4.2 OPERA neutrino anomaly
5 Tachyons
6 General relativity
7 Variable speed of light
8 See also
9 Notes
10 References
11 External links
o 11.1 Scientific links
o 11.2 Proposed FTL Methods links
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FTL travel of non-information


In the context of this article, FTL is the transmission of information or matter faster than c, a
constant equal to the speed of light in a vacuum, which is 299,792,458 metres per second (by
definition) or about 186,282.4 miles per second. This is not quite the same as traveling faster
than light, since:

Some processes propagate faster than c, but cannot carry information (see examples in
the sections immediately following).
Light travels at speed c/n when not in a vacuum but travelling through a medium with
refractive index = n (causing refraction), and in some materials other particles can travel
faster than c/n (but still slower than c), leading to Cherenkov radiation (see phase velocity
below).

Neither of these phenomena violates special relativity or creates problems with causality, and
thus neither qualifies as FTL as described here.
In the following examples, certain influences may appear to travel faster than light, but they do
not convey energy or information faster than light, so they do not violate special relativity.

Daily sky motion


For an Earthbound observer, objects in the sky complete one revolution around the Earth in 1
day. Proxima Centauri, which is the nearest star outside the solar system, is about 4 light-years
away.[5] On a geostationary view Proxima Centauri has a speed many times greater than c as the
rim speed of an object moving in a circle is a product of the radius and angular speed.[5] It is also
possible on a geostatic view for objects such as comets to vary their speed from subluminal to
superluminal and vice versa simply because the distance from the Earth varies. Comets may have

orbits which take them out to more than 1000 AU.[6] The circumference of a circle with a radius
of 1000 AU is greater than one light day. In other words, a comet at such a distance is
superluminal in a geostatic, and therefore non-inertial, frame.