Scientists Make Radio Waves Travel Faster Than Light


Scientists Make Radio Waves Travel Faster Than Light

This is an old article, about a year and an half old, but it hasn't been posted here, and I think it's worth some attention. Like they say in the article, it could lead to new breakthrough in communication, and much more.

Maybe next time we'll see an article about particles travelling faster than light.

Scientists Make Radio Waves Travel Faster Than Light
Scientist John Singleton insists that Albert Einstein wouldn't be mad at him, even though at first blush Singleton appears to have twisted the famous physicist's theories about light into a pretzel.

Most people think Einstein said that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, but that's not really the case, Singleton said.

Einstein predicted that particles and information can't travel faster than the speed of light — but phenomenon like radio waves? That's a different story, said Singleton, a Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellow.

Singleton has created a gadget that abuses radio waves so severely that they finally give in and travel faster than light.

The polarization synchrotron combines the waves with a rapidly spinning magnetic field, and the result could explain why pulsars — which are super-dense spinning stars that are a subclass of neutron stars — emit such powerful signals, a phenomenon that has baffled many scientists, Singleton said.

"Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars that emit radio waves in pulses, but what we don't know is why these pulses are so bright or why they travel such long distances," Singleton said. "What we think is these are transmitting the same way our machine does."

And beyond explaining what has been a bit of a mystery to the astronomical community, Singleton's discovery could have wide-ranging technological impacts in areas such as medicine and communications, he said.

"Because nobody's really thought about things that travel faster than light before, this is a wide-open technological field," Singleton said.

One possible use for the resulting speedy radio waves — which are packed into a very powerful wave the size of a pencil point — could be the creation of a new generation of cell phones that communicate directly to satellites, rather than transmitting through relay towers as they now do.

Those phones would have more reliable service and would also be more difficult for hackers to intercept, Singleton said.

Another application could be in very targeted chemotherapy, where a patient takes the drugs, and the radio waves are used to activate them very specifically in the area around a tumor, he said.

If Einstein were still alive, he probably wouldn't be all that surprised by the discovery, Perez said, even if it does seem on the surface to conflict with some of his theories.

"He might have thought, 'why did this take so long,' " Perez said.
LANL scientist makes radio waves travel faster than light