Thursday, August 16, 2007

Speed of light beaten

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One of the key tenets of Einstein's theory of relativity- that nothing, under any circumstances, can move faster than the speed of light is proved wrong.

Recently, two German physicists claim to have demonstrated there is the possibility of travel faster than the speed of light using the strange phenomenon of quantum tunnelling, in which particles summon up the energy to cross an apparently uncrossable barrier.

Their experiments focused on the travel of microwave photons - energetic packets of light - through two prisms. When the prisms were moved apart, most photons reflected off the first prism they encountered and were picked up by a detector. But a few appeared to "tunnel" through a gap separating them as if the prisms were still held together.

Although these photons had travelled a longer distance, they arrived at their detector at the same time as the reflected photons. This suggests that the transit between the two prisms was faster than the speed of light.

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