Category Archives: illustration

Speed of light regulated

Speed of light regulated

What determines the speed of light? We know that it is a limiting factor for all physical objects. We have heard it time and again – nothing goes faster than c! Nothing.   Can we determine why it is regulated to c?  I think we can.  It is all a matter of relativity.

Photon in FligthSuppose we consider the idea that the photon is disk-shaped due to space distortion.  (See figure at left) The photon is traveling at the speed of light and the space distortion equations tell us that, from our perspective, the photon’s dimensions in the direction of travel are greatly shortened, essentially like a very thin pancake set perpendicular to the direction of travel.

We know that the photon is a ball of energy related to its frequency and we know that the frequency determines the color of light that we can actually detect with our eyes. A blue photon has both a higher frequency and energy than a red photon. All the energy is confined to that flat pancake moving along at the speed of light, c.

Now we come to a slight separation from the earlier argument that the clock of the photon is stopped and nothing wiggles in a photon with a stopped clock. That is, in my opinion, true for the photon, but we are talking about the photon here from an observer’s point of view, not the photon’s perspective.  From the observer’s point of view, the photon moves with measurable velocity, measurable frequency, measurable energy, and thus potentially real live vibrational modes as seen by a clever observer. The time experienced by the photon is still zero from start to finish of its journey, but the observer still knows it is moving at a particular pace and also vibrating as it goes.

The photon cannot vibrate in the front to back direction because to do so implies that the vibration mode that goes toward the back lags behind and then it could never catch up without exceeding the speed of light. This implies that the photon vibrates from side to side or possibly either way around the rim of the disk and never front to back (well, maybe a very little, as explained later). The ripples in the disk are shown greatly magnified in the figure of the photon in flight above. Vertically polarized photons vibrate from rim to rim in a vertical fashion, horizontally polarized vibrate side-to-side and circular polarized photons vibrate around the rim, to and fro, and can even be lopsided a little producing an elliptical polarization.  These types of polarization exist in our real world and we can separate photons with various filters. prisims, and crystals.

Now let us suppose that we consider the vibrational modes of the disk in a little more detail. It seems that any vibration would cause at least some ripples along the disk, and that these ripples must involve at least some bunching of energy producing some motion front to back. Suppose these ripples are constrained to some minimum amplitude in order to even exist.  Could it be that these ripples actually limit the speed of the photon to some factor that actually defines c?   They can.

In other words, if the speed of the photon were to try to increase beyond the speed of light, as seen by our (any) frame of reference, the continuing shortening of the disk would reduce the amplitude of the ripples and potentially slow the photon back down to a speed where the ripples can still exist in our frame of reference. This provides a theory of how the speed of light is established and limited to a particular speed, “the speed of light”, for a photon. The speed of light is about 299,792,458 meters per second, usually symbolized by the letter “c”.

My thought is that when a photon or other particle is emitted, it probably takes off at the highest possible speed that is limited by the speed at which it can still maintain vibrational modes that can exist within an observer’s frame of reference. This is the speed of light as we know it and the regulator is the relativistic shortening of the disk in the direction of travel as seen by the observer. This shortening reduces the amplitude to a point that is sustainable for the energy it contains. If a photon can vibrate longitudinally, it would still be limited in amplitude to the size constrained by the disk in the same way described above, essentially very little, and regulated by the speed. The photon will always go at the maximum speed it can maintain (and no faster) within a given frame of reference. 

Why photons all travel at the same speed 

So why do all photons travel at the same speed?  Even for two observers traveling in differnt directions both measuring the same speed for a photon crusing by?  First lets consider some facts:  Blue light has a frequency, f, entered on 7.88×10^14 HZ and a corresponding energy e of 5.22 10^ -19 Joules. Red light has a frequency centered on 3.79×10^14 HZ and a corresponding energy e of 2.373 x 10^-19 Joules. Since they have different energies and different frequencies, would they not reach that equilibrium at different speeds?

For the answer, consider this:  The energy and frequency of all photons are related to a simple constant, e= hf.   Where h= Planck’s constant= 6.6262*10 ^-34 J s (Joule second).  So the relationship of the energy of photon to its frequency is a constant.

Or put another way, h = e/f for all photons. The ratio of the energy of a photon to its frequency is a constant for all photons. Thus we can see that the sustainable amplitude is somehow related to h and all photons are regulated to the same speed, which we measure as c in any frame of reference.   For example, if you divide the frequency into the energy for the blue and then the red light photons above, the ratio comes out the same.   The result is h, a constant for all photons.   These relationships are well known in the physics world.

However, the frame of reference is a key element, which means that the regulation to c takes place in any frame of reference because the shortening of the disk is related to the speed within the reference of the observer (any observer and all observers), and thus become regulated to c in all frames of reference. If the frame of reference were within a spaceship traveling at near relativistic speed and attempting to measure the speed of a photon going in its direction, the photon’s speed would still be c in respect to the spaceship. The length contraction relative to the spaceship would just be enough to regulate the speed of light measured by the spaceship to agree with the speed observed on earth.

There is a little of cart before the horse-trading going on here. The equations for space distortion and for time dilation both involve the square root of a term that would be a negative number if the photon exceeded the speed of light. In order for us to consider that the photon might even try to go faster than the speed of light, the equation would need some modification to make things right. It might well be that in order for the photon to reach c it might initially slip into “superluminal” speed, but it would quickly be brought back to within the speed bounds by the disk shortening along the path of flight and the reduction of the amplitude of the energy waves in the disk, the shortening taking place in the frame of reference of the measurer/observer.  Even when there are no observers and no measurement taking place, the photon is not alone.  Other particle exist, even in a vaccum, virtual particles for example.  These make up a frame of reference too, so the photon is always locked in to c. 

All photons strive to go faster than c all the time, but are held back by the relativistic effect of space shortening’s effect on the need to vibrate.

This latter discussion begs a new question. If the vibrational modes could somehow be frozen so that they do not need to vibrate in flight as we observe them, could they then travel at an unregulated speed beyond the speed of light? Consider a particle that starts out at absolute zero. In that case all the parts are locked together and nothing moves and therefore has no vibration to sustain. What is to regulate the speed of that particle? Can we then reach superluminal speeds for such a particle?  I don’t think so because to get it up to speed, energy must be applied.  In the case of a photon, the energy comes from the change in states of an electron around an atom or a collision of some sort that generates a photon.  Once we have energy for a massless particle, it has to cruise along at c.

It may be possible that a photon in flight passing thorough from another dimension/universe might have motion relative to us moving so fast that there is no effective vibration taking place during the time of its passage, effectively frozen during its passage.   Such a particle might zip by at superlumal speed.  Of course we would never know it passed unless it hit something on the way.  Then we would have a mess.  

Physicists call hypothetical particles that travel at superlumal speeds tachyons, (hypothetical so far, that is).

There is one other consideration that acts as a speed regulator.  Something I hinted at above.   c is the speed at which the time and distance experienced by a photon reduces to zero.  I stated that a photon always strives to go faster than c.   Each time it does, it slips into imaginary time and pops back to c, and has to stay there.   Look at it another way.  The photon traveling at c arrives the instant it leaves (from the photon’s perspective).  If it went any faster than c, would it arrive before it left?  I don’t think so and so the photon cannot go any faster.

Hopefully I’ve given you something to think about.  

Oldtimer

Article and drawing, Copyright 2006, 2007,

James A. Tabb
 

Fun with time travel

Fun with Time Travel

worm hole from Wikipedia

 Wormhole drawing from Wikipedia

There has much been written about wormholes being used potentially for time travel and popularized by science movies and novels, Contact, Farscape, Stargate. and Sliders, for examples.    It is a familiar topic of some top physicists and not excluded by the Theory of Relativity.

Create a wormhole, drag one end “E” to a vast gravitational source such as a neutron star and wait.   Time for the dragged end will slow down dramatically in comparison with the other end located far from the gravitational source.   This is due to an intense gravitational field’s effect on time – it slows it down, it doesn’t age as fast as the other end.    Then drag the “slow time” end “E” back to the lab and set it beside the “real time”, “L”, and you have a time machine. with ends labeled E on the slow end and  L on the fast.  

If some future civilization could somehow do such a thing, the speculation is that if someone tossed a ball into the L (Late) end, it will come out the E (Early) end before it goes in the L end.   Time travel, back to the past.

Now that may sound confusing, but consider this.  If the E end were put in the gravitational field on July 11, 2007, it would remain at July 11 until it was removed on July 12 and then be a  day early forever.    A ball put into the L end on July 14 would come out on July 13 at E, and a ball put into the E end on July 14 would come out a day later on July 15 at L.   Both ends are at the same date as you sit there watching it, but an object put into either end responds as if it were moving through time.

Wormhole

Looking into a wormhole  – don’t blame me if you get dizzy.

Now there is a situation that needs some explaining.  The person sitting there observing both ends, which are now together, is living only in the “real time” which we call fast time, but it is early time for himself a day later.   He can see both ends at once and both ends of the wormhole are visible at the same time, the one on the left labeled E and the one on the right labeled L.     Suppose he sees a ball with his signature on it pop out of the hole at E.   That implies that someone (presumably him) will put a ball into the L end the next day.    Suppose he decides to lock the lab and prevent someone from doing that.    Where did the ball come from?

Physicists who may accept the possibility of time travel have taken great pains to explain why an action at L cannot be changed by something coming out of E. For example, you can’t go into the L end and come out of E and prevent yourself from going in.  Or kill yourself in the past, or let the ball you toss in be knocked off course by the ball coming out, or lock the door to prevent the ball from going into the L end.  So the answer to the question, “where did the ball come from” is this:  he can’t prevent the ball from being put in the next day if it has already come out early.  The future is already defined for that event.  If he could prevent the ball from going in, it would not have come out early.  Something would intervene or someone from an parallel universe would have to have done it.  Things that come out the E end define what goes into the L end later.  Future foretold.

It occurs to me that it would be apparent soon after it was created whether and how well it works, and if a person could survive the trip or not. It is clear to most physicists that such a machine cannot go further into the past than when the end was dragged into the gravity source because the dragging can only be done in the present.   Merely dragging it does not open a portal to an earlier time than when it was put into the gravitational source.

To determine if and how well it works, you only need to observe the E end. If a ball comes out, it works for some objects. If hamburger like meat or juices come out wearing a name tag, it would not be wise to later go in yourself.  But you would not be able to prevent someone wearing that tag from going in.   His or her fate is sealed.  If your name is on the tag, give it to your worst enemy quick!

Once the end is dragged away, it might work, but it can only begin then. Lets say that the end E is dragged to the lab and placed beside L before any experimenting is done, and the time differential had been built up to 1 hour between the ends. Soon after the two ends are brought near each other, the physicist standing nearby might see a ball pop out with his signature on it.  “It works!”, he shouts.  At that moment, before he ever starts his experimenting, he knows it works with balls. Then he puts the ball back in. Where did the first ball come from? Who signed it? Does the ball come out again? When?

Some Answers:

The first ball came from someone an hour later who puts in a ball previously signed by the physicist. It is the same ball, but cannot come out unless initiated an hour later by action by someone in the future, acting in their present, sending the ball to their past.

If the ball is put back into L, it can’t come out in the lab at E unless the physicist has waited at least an hour after the portal has been established, finds a ball somewhere, signs it and then puts it into L, such that it comes out while portal E is active and in the lab. The initial appearance of the ball at E requires a corresponding initial action at L an hour later.  Predestination.

If the physicist puts the ball back in immediately, it might come back out, but not in his or her laboratory unless the portal has been open in his lab for at least an hour. For example, the portal is only 5 minutes old when the first ball comes out (implying it was put in an hour from then) and if it is immediately put back in, it would be put in 55 minutes before the original one – before the portal is established and comes out somewhere along the dragged path preceding the first one he saw come out.  

In other words, if less than an hour, it must come out somewhere along the path that the port E was dragged through, and thus his evidence would be lost in space. In addition, an unsigned ball must be found, signed and put into the portal L prior to putting the first ball back in. To fail to do so would have meant the initiating event never happened and he/she would have no knowledge of it, much less a signed ball to admire.

The physicist must wait until enough time has elapsed that the time differential from E to L has elapsed (in this case 1 hour) to avoid losing the ball. The physicist must also initiate the process with a newly signed ball. This requires an hour’s wait the first time, but might not if, say two hours (or 48 hours) elapsed before the initial action is taken.

Then putting the ball back in would enable it to come around again and not be lost in space. However he would first have to find a ball and sign it to start the original process and such an action would have already resulted in earlier balls pouring out of the E end. 

Major Problem 

There is a major problem brought to light right here, but it was a problem from the beginning and just now evident.  Lets say that he just got the portals working and they are side by side.  He has a signed ball on the table waiting for the hour to elapse and a signed ball unexpectedly comes out of E.  Now he has two signed balls!   Matter Created?   Energy created?   Violations of energy conservation all over the place!   Can he go into the ball manufacturing business by putting the balls back in quickly and getting a never ending supply of perfectly identical balls?   I don’t think so!  If he could, he should find a large carat diamond and switch to that.   They would pour out of E by the shovel full after a few minutes!  First 1 then 2 then 4 then 16 until they started to pile up and he is shoveling them back in as fast as possible.   Not going to happen!   Whatever happens, energy, and thus mass, and thus new balls (or diamonds) are not got going to be created.  No matter what. 

The answer may be that the ends cannot be placed close enough together that light can go from one to the other within the time frame of the experimental time warp.  That would put a real damper on the project, although it would work as a good portal between far flung space stations.  Set two of them up with a time delay of the light travel time and have one with E at one end and L at the other, then a second set of L at the first end and E at the other.  Then someone could go from one star to the other and back in a matter of seconds, round trip.   The traveler could never be in the same place at the same time.

Lets say this is one sharp physicist that thought that this paradox of having matter creation would prevent it from working at all, so he put his original signed ball into a box and never opened it.   Did it cease to exist?  Can he use the ball that came out of E to put back into L an hour later?   If so, who signed that ball and when?  He only has one ball to deal with and he carefully reuses it no often than once an hour but we still have a major problem to deal with when he opens that box.    Actually the answer to all these is this:  If he puts the first signed ball into the box, seals it, and never opens it, he will never get a signed ball out of E the first time.  

We just can’t deal with that situation logically.  So lets move on to another scenario and see if we do any better.   Suppose somehow the balls can co-exist and if you put one in now, it comes out an hour earlier, no problem.  Suppose our physicist is very conservative, thinks about things thoroughly and decides in advance to wait 3 hours before putting in the first ball. If he actually did wait for the 3d hour, it would come out at the 2d hour.   It would still be matter created because he has at that time still not put the first one in, so he has two.  The happy physicist thinking “this is neat!” might be tempted to put both back in immediately.   He can’t.  Somehow he can’t because to do so would have meant that he would have had 3 at the first hour (the original plus the 2 from the second hour) and he did not.    As soon as one comes out, the future of the portal at L is fixed for that event.   Unless parallel universes come into play.  The portals in different but parallel universes.   You would never know unless the laws and/or sequence of history were different and your ball came back signed by someone else. 

Each appearance implies that the future event will take place.  If a new ball  appears at hour 2 at E,  that ball is destined to be put into L an hour later. 

The above sequence may seem like the past is forcing the future to comply with past events.   Deterministic.  Maybe that is already happening.  Everything we do is pretty much dictated by our past actions.   We have very little room to maneuver.  

“Whenever the future repeats itself the price goes up.*”   Maybe we just can’t afford a time machine.  

 * The original version of this quote is more than 4000 years old!  Future foretold!

Time machine lost! 

When it comes down to the bottom line, a time machine for travel into the past is an energy and matter creator and would have to violate a fundamental law.  Travel into the future also violates the same law because matter and energy in the past “disappears” when it enters the portal. 

During the transition from the past to the future, the universe would have less matter and energy than before. 

Sorry folks, but we aren’t going either way.

Oldtimer

(Reliving the past)

Quantum Weirdness in Entangled Particles

Entangled Particles

Selecting which atom we use with careful attention to its excitation states can create entangled particles.  Some atoms emit two photons at a time or very closely together, one in one direction, the other in the opposite direction.  These photons also have a property that one spins or is polarized in one direction and the other always spins or is polarized at right angles to the first.  They come in pairs such that if we conduct an experiment on one to determine its orientation, the other’s orientation becomes known at once.   They are “entangled”.

Link to image EPR 

Figure 10 – Entangled Particles   

All of this was involved in a famous dispute between Einstein and Bohr where Einstein devised a series of thought experiments to prove quantum measurement theory defective and Bohr devised answers. 

The weirdness, if you want to call it that, is the premise that the act of measurement of one actually defines both of them and so one might be thousands of miles away when you measure the first and the other instantly is converted, regardless of the distance between them, to the complement of the first.   Action-at-a-distance that occurs faster than the speed of light?

Some would argue (me for instance) that this is more of a hat trick, not unlike where a machine randomly puts a quarter under one hat or the other, and always a nickel under a second one.  You don’t know in advance which contains which.  Does the discovery that one hat has a quarter actually change the other into a nickel or was it always that way?  Some would say that since it is impossible to know what is under each hat, the discovery of the quarter was determined by the act of measuring (lifting the hat) and the other coin only became a nickel at that instant.   Is this action at a distance? 

It is easy to say that the measurement of the first particle only uncovers the true nature of the first particle and the deduction of the nature of the second particle is not a case of weirdness at all.   They were that way at the start.

However, this is a hotly debated subject and many consider this a real effect and a real problem.  That is, they consider the particles (which are called Einstein‑‑ Podolsky‑Rosen (EPR) pairs) to have a happy-go-lucky existence in which the properties are undetermined until measured.   Measure the polarization of one – and the second instantly takes the other polarization.

A useful feature of entangled particles is the notion that you could encrypt data using these particles such that if anyone attempted to intercept and read them somewhere in their path, the act of reading would destroy the message.

So there you have it – Weird behavior at a distance, maybe across the universe.

Next:  Some Random Thoughts About Relativity