SCIENTISTS claim to have broken the ultimate speed record – by making photons travel faster than light.
Exceeding the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, is supposed to be impossible.
According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object through the light barrier.
But two German physicists now claim to have forced light to overcome its own speed limit using a phenomenon known as quantum tunnelling.
In an experiment, microwave photons, energetic packets of light, appeared to travel “instantaneously” between two prisms forming the halves of a cube placed a metre apart.
When the prisms were placed together, photons fired at one edge passed straight through them, as expected.
After they were moved apart, most of the photons reflected off the first prism they encountered and were picked up by a detector. But a few photons appeared to “tunnel” through the gap separating them as if the prisms were still held together.
Although these photons had travelled further, they arrived at their detector at exactly the same time as the reflected photons. In effect, they had travelled faster than light.
Dr Gunter Nimtz, one of the physicists from the University of Koblenz, told New Scientist: “This is the only violation of special relativity that I know of.”
taken from the Scotsman