June 13, 2024

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Because it may be impossible to build a time machine

Because it may be impossible to build a time machine

The idea of ​​time travel, past or future, has preoccupied humanity for centuries. Its appeal is undeniable, and as such it has understandably permeated literature, films and video games, while certainly being the subject of countless late-night conversations. But although the idea is tempting, new findings by a team of physicists suggest that the dream is likely to remain elusive. Here is the explanation:

In the vast, unobstructed expanses of space, light travels steadily at an unrelenting speed of 299,792,458 meters per second. However, his journey takes a different turn when he encounters the electromagnetic fields that surround matter. In this case, the speed of light can decrease significantly, a phenomenon that we can observe when light is refracted as it passes through a glass of water or when it disperses to form the colors of the rainbow.

Historically, while Eqs. 19Sh In the twentieth century, they were able to describe this slowdown in the speed of light, but they were unable to capture the sudden changes in its speed when passing between different media. This gap is being filled by a group of scientists from the University of Tampere in Finland. Pioneering study Led by Matias Koivurova, it revisits the fundamental principles that govern the path of light waves through time and space.

What did scientists discover? As Koivurova explains in his own words: “I found a very elegant way to derive the standard equation for waves…the only assumption I needed was that the wave speed is constant.”. But Koivorova had a revolutionary idea: What if speed wasn’t always constant? It was this change in perspective that ultimately led to the ups and downs.

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The universal speed of light, which is denoted by the letter “c”, serves in physics as an upper limit for the transfer of “information” in a vacuum. While matter can affect its speed, the theory of relativity holds that this fundamental property remains unchanged. Challenging this long-held belief, Koivurova and his colleagues modeled a scenario where light could actually speed up or slow down.

But their findings were linked in an interesting way to broader principles of relativity. Send a spaceship into the depths of space at tremendous speed, and its passengers will experience time and distance differently than observers watching the flight from afar. This discrepancy is due to the theory of relativity, which has been successfully tested repeatedly on all scales.

So when they examined this accelerating wave from the perspective of constant velocity, they found similarities with phenomena dictated by relativity:

From the wave’s point of view, its momentum remains unchanged during its journey!

“What we showed is that from the point of view of the wave, nothing happens to its momentum. In other words, the wave’s momentum is conserved.”Koivurova noted.

The conclusions that can be drawn are many. Accordingly, the researchers hypothesized that all waves, from electromagnetic waves to simple ripples in a lake, should obey the principles of relativity and conservation of momentum, especially when accelerated. And somewhere in here comes the bad news for aspiring space-time explorers: if all waves have, from their own perspective rather than the observer’s, their own unique “proper time,” due to relativity, then The laws of physics based on these waves must have a constant time direction respectively. A time trend that cannot be reversed.

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In short, this theory currently applies to one dimension: space and time. However, it may be the key to a deeper understanding of the temporal structure of our universe. If further experiments confirm this, it may mean that our journey through the universe is rather… “one way”.

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