Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Tachyons
Name: Mar k Grove
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1993 - 1999


Question:
I have read some books about a theoretical particle called a tachyon that can travel faster than light. Since Einstein proposed that nothing could travel faster than light, where is this theory coming from? Is there a good reason to believe its possibility? And if it were proven to be true, what would that mean about time travel and all that stuff? Thanks for the help.


Replies:
The tachyon does come out of Einstein's theory. Einstein didn't actually propose that nothing could travel faster than light, merely that light always travels at the same speed no matter how fast you are travelling relative to that light.

Just as normal objects (you and me) cannot accelerate up to or beyond the speed of light because it takes infinite energy, so tachyons are stuck travelling faster than the speed of light because it would take them infinite energy to slow down to the speed of light. Nobody has yet figured out a way to prove that a tachyon exists, because detecting it would probably have to involve some kind of interaction different from all the forces we know about today. It's an interesting theory, but so far there's no proof one way or the other.

A Smith



Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory