This one, needless to say, over at phys.org caught my eye for a variety of reasons, and apparently caught the eyes of many of you as well, for many of you emailed it to me. I'll get into the reasons it caught my eye in a moment, but first the article itself:
Physicists extend special relativity beyond the speed of light
The abstract of the paper is here:
Einstein's special relativity beyond the speed of light
Now, before I proceed, let it be noted that my comments are based off the summary provided by phys.org, not the actual paper by James M. Hill and Barry J. Cox. That said, let's begin. I've long been fascinated by the idea that the velocity of light may represent a kind of boundary condition between two very different sets of theoretical phenomena, and it would appear from the summary of their paper by phys.org, that this is the approach taken by Hill and Cox, who have developed extensions of the Lorentz transformations into superluminal conditions. This approach, at first hearing - and again without the benefit of reading their paper - appears to have similar conceptual approaches to aspects of Heim theory as well, where the velocity of light acts as a kind of boundary condition between classes of spaces and phenomena.
But what gives me pause here is the implication that Hill and Cox may have adopted the idea of an implied absolute rest frame(again, without the benefit of their paper), implied by the following commentary:
"As a result, the singularity forms a kind of boundary so that all inertial reference frames fall into one of two sets relative to some rest frame: those with a relative velocity less than c, and those with a relative velocity greater than c. The physicists explain that there is no objective way to identify whether a particular reference frame is in the subluminal or in the superluminal set of frames other than by reference to some arbitrary rest frame."
It was of course this "rest frame" that constituted pre-relativistic physics' notion of the aether lumeniferous, a kind of absolute rest frame against which all motion was relative and against which all motion was measured. But Einstein reasoned (if we may put it so baldly and succinctly) that everything we observe is in motion and that the ideas of motion and rest are themselves all relative; there was no absolute rest frame in the sense that had obtained previously. So this aspect of the claim gives me some pause.
That said, however, there are interesting deeper philosophical developments, and I hearken back to the lengthy ongoing dispute between Nikola Tesla - whom I would see as the great 19th and 20th century physicist, and not Einstein - and Albert Einstein. Tesla repeatedly filed patents claiming electro-acoustical waves (or if one prefer, electrical longitudinal waves) with velocities greatly in excess of the velocity of light, as, for example, his patent number 787,412 filed in 1900, which claimed a velocity of 292,830 miles per second. Tesla repeatedly gave interviews to journals and newspapers, long after Einstein's relativity theories had become scientific dogma, claiming that no such speed limit existed. The American physicist Herbert Ives of Bell laboratories entered the fray, claiming the same things. It was, so to speak, Ives and Tesla the engineers, versus Einstein, the theorist.
What Tesla also claimed however was precisely the fact that the phenomena that he was dealing with were longitudinal, and not Hertzian. They were, to put it somewhat differently, stresses in the very space-time with which Einstein was concerned, and hence, the idea presented by Hill and Cox may be an intriguing development... Can their paper rationalize the phenomena recorded by Tesla and others? Time will tell, but if so, then a reconciliation of an old dispute may also be at hand. This possibility also may reconcile other recent developments, such as Albucierre's equations for a warp drive, and more recent developments of that which make the energy requirements to bring about such space-time stresses barely "feasible," and to say "barely feasible" is to open the possibility of engineerability. For those paying attention, this was basically what Gabriel Kron, another engineer, was saying in 1935.
See you on the flip side.