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The Speed of Light

By Logan Wright

According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, it is impossible to exceed the speed of light.

With this in mind, physicists set out to do the impossible and succeeded… sort of. In 2000, scientists in Princeton, New Jersey sent a small pulse of laser light through a vapor made up of gaseous cesium. The pulse traveled so quickly it was already leaving the vapor-filled chamber as it was still entering, roughly 300 times faster than it would have in a vacuum. Thus, light moved faster than the speed of light.

Other experiments have since managed to conquer light’s supposed speed limit, though all claims have had fine print that keeps them from being especially groundbreaking. Those seeking to truly prove Einstein wrong must instead turn to objects like black holes, which could theoretically cause things to move at faster-than-light speeds. Black holes have proven to be particularly uncooperative test subjects though, and for now this remains speculation.

More information: Warp drive when? - NASA

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20 Jul 2011
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