Po­ten­tial Im­pact

Electronics For You - - Futuristic -

Time di­la­tion and space con­trac­tion. In the the­ory of rel­a­tiv­ity, time di­la­tion is an ob­served dif­fer­ence of elapsed time be­tween two events as mea­sured by ob­servers ei­ther mov­ing rel­a­tive to each other or dif­fer­ently sit­u­ated from grav­i­ta­tional masses. An ac­cu­rate clock at rest with re­spect to one ob­server, may be mea­sured to tick at a dif­fer­ent rate when com­pared to a sec­ond ob­server’s own equally ac­cu­rate clocks.

This ef­fect arises nei­ther from tech­ni­cal as­pects of the clocks, nor from the fact that sig­nals need time to prop­a­gate, but from the na­ture of space-time it­self. In spe­cial rel­a­tiv­ity ( or, hy­po­thet­i­cally far from all grav­i­ta­tional mass), clocks that are mov­ing with re­spect to an in­er­tial sys­tem of ob­ser­va­tion are mea­sured to be run­ning slower (re­fer Wikipedia).

Sim­i­larly, there are other con­cepts such as space and length con­trac­tion. For ex­am­ple, an ob­server de­tects a de­crease in the length of ob­jects that travel at any non- zero ve­loc­ity rel­a­tive to that ob­server. It is in­ter­est­ing to note that while time ex­pands from the per­spec­tive of the sta­tion­ary ob­server, space con­tracts from the per­spec­tive of the mov­ing ob­server.

How­ever, both time di­la­tion and space con­trac­tion are not no­tice­able at ev­ery­day speeds. The ef­fect of time di­la­tion has been ex­per­i­men­tally con­firmed, thanks to very pre­cise cae­sium clocks that can mea­sure ex­tremely small pe­ri­ods of time. Un­for­tu­nately, time di­la­tion is com­pletely out­side hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause we have not yet de­vised a way of trav­el­ling at speeds where rel­a­tivis­tic ef­fects be­come no­tice­able. Even if you spent your whole life in a jet plane that moves at su­per­sonic speed, you would barely win a sec­ond over your con­tem­po­raries on the ground.

Not even to­day’s as­tro­nauts can per­ceive the Lorentz con­trac­tion. Imag­ine you are a cos­mo­naut on board space sta­tion Mir which is mov­ing at 7700 me­tres per sec­ond rel­a­tive to the earth. Look­ing down upon Europe from space you would see the en­tire 270-kilome­tre east to west ex­tent of Switzer­land con­tracted by a mere 0.08 mil­lime­tre. If, how­ever, neu­tri­nos re­ally travel faster than light, time di­la­tion and space con­trac­tion could as­sume a new mean­ing, and pos­si­bly be­come ex­pe­ri­ence­able.

Time travel. Time travel is the con­cept of mov­ing be­tween dif­fer­ent points in time com­pa­ra­ble to how one would move be­tween dif­fer­ent points in space. So far only hy­po­thet­i­cal, time travel would fa­cil­i­ate move­ment to any point in the past or fu­ture with­out the need for the trav­eler to ex­pe­ri­ence the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod in its nor­mal rate.

So far the re­la­tion be­tween cause and ef­fect as ex­plained by Ein­stein’s the­ory of spe­cial rel­a­tiv­ity pro­vides for the move­ment of time only in one di­rec­tion. This is based on the un­der­ly­ing the­ory that noth­ing can move faster than light. How­ever, if it is true that neu­tri­nos travel faster than light, it could open the pos­si­bil­ity of one trav­el­ling back in time.

Con­ver­sion of mass into en­ergy and vice versa. When charged par­ti­cles move in a medium with speeds faster than the speed of light in that medium, they ra­di­ate some en­ergy. So if neu­tri­nos travel faster than light in vac­uum, there must be some en­ergy that can be tapped from it.

Any im­me­di­ate im­pact on elec­tron­ics and com­mu­ni­ca­tion? Prof. Kar­belkar feels, “It is very dif­fi­cult to pre­dict the elec­tron­ics and com­mu­ni­ca­tion en­gi­neer­ing im­pli­ca­tions of the claimed find­ings. On the do­mes­tic ground (1000km range), a head-start of a mere 60-bil­lionths of a sec­ond might not prompt peo­ple to switch over to neu­trino-based com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Re­mem­ber also that the OPERA team at the re­ceiv­ing end (the Gran Sasso lab) uses a re­ally colos­sal de­tec­tor (10x10x20 m³ with a mass of 4000 tonnes). Not very suit­able for rou­tine com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Per­haps for in­ter- world ga­lac­tic com­mu­ni­ca­tions, this, if true, may help!”

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