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 Light Speed and Theories
Name:  James L.
Status:  student
Age:  18
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

I recently read an article (The article can be found at which stated that by using evanescent waves people were able to transmit a wave faster then c for very short distances. c of course being the speed of light in a vacuum. How do the currently accepted theories of space-time and relativity account for this?


Current theories of relativity would not account for this. What must be realized it that ALL physics theories are approximations of reality. Newton's work applies to "medium" situations: objects made of many, many molecules moving much slower than the speed of light. In that range of reality, Newtonian physics is a very good approximation of reality. Large object moving very fast (close to the speed of light) don't obey Newton's laws. Einstein came up with an approximation called relativity to work with such objects. Relativity, however, is not a good approximation for individual particles. They require quantum physics. There is not yet any set of theories that works for everything. There is still a great deal we don't understand. Reality is not based on the theories. Rather, the theories are based on reality.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf

Click here to return to the Physics 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 (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

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

Argonne National Laboratory