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Space Science

Matter Discovered Traveling at Near Light Speed 403

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the celestial-slingshot dept.
mcgrew writes to mention New Scientist is reporting that scientists have clocked matter traveling at 99.999% the speed of light. "The fastest flows of matter in the universe shoot out of dying stars at more than 99.999% the speed of light, new observations reveal. When a massive star runs out of fuel, it collapses to form a black hole or a neutron star. In the process, some of the matter from the star also explodes outward at blistering speeds, producing an intense burst of gamma rays and other radiation."
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Matter Discovered Traveling at Near Light Speed

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  • Kudos to the editor (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:10PM (#19493565)
    Much better subject line than what was found in The Firehose...

    (The original subject line said "Matter found travelling at the speed of light", or something along those lines.

    Close != At.

    Given all the Complaints and BS the mods have to put up with sometimes, I think they should get complimented for a job well done as well.
  • To be clear... (Score:5, Informative)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:11PM (#19493569)
    We've known about gamma ray bursts for a long time. It's just that now we know how fast the matter is moving that causes these bursts.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ajs (35943)
      Didn't we already know about superluminal motion [wikipedia.org] (which turns out to be near-speed-of-light motion, viewed oddly), active galactic nuclei [wikipedia.org], etc.? What's the new info, here or is it just confirmation of what we'd known before?
  • 99.999% (Score:5, Funny)

    by Trigun (685027) <evil@NOSpAm.evilempire.ath.cx> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:11PM (#19493575)
    Slackers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jshriverWVU (810740)
      It's the Planet Express ship [wikipedia.org]!

      No need to link to a description. This is /. we all know! lol I can't wait till the new season of Futurama starts. Bender is hilarious.

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:15PM (#19493633)
    will be snails pace when we get warp technology.
  • by TheBearBear (1103771) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:16PM (#19493643)
    Hey guys, let's say you have a 500 foot pole out in space, far away from anything (no friction, nothing). you are on one end of the pole, and i on the other. Then i push the pole towards you. When does the other end of the pole move towards you, after MY END MOVES? is it instantaneous? or does it take .000000005 seconds of whatever. Like the atoms of the pole push each other on and on and so forth till it gets to the end. if it does take time, is it faster than light, or slower? what if the pole was 300,000,000 meters long? does it take about 1 second for u to notice the other end moves?
    • by The_REAL_DZA (731082) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:20PM (#19493731)
      The only way you'd get a superluminal effect is if you had a perfectly rigid pole (and, seeing as how this is Slashdot, I'm going to discount that possibility.)
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:44PM (#19494169)
        I know you're joking, but even a perfectly rigid pole would be subject to the propagation of forces. Think about what forces have to propagate in order to tell the other end of the pole to move. One atom has to repel the next atom using electromagnetic force, weak and strong nuclear forces, which has to in turn repel the next atom, etc, etc. There is an elastic repulsive process which goes all the way down the pole until it reaches the other end. And we know the fastest that this can happen is the speed of light. So the pole will be momentarily compressed as the force propagates.

        No information can travel faster than the speed of light, as a general rule.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)
        I'm sure there are plenty of ridged poles around. Just very few of them are used.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by ArtuRocks (956605)
          And which fundamental law of the universe is the one that dictates good use of a rigid pole requires more than one entity?
    • by totallygeek (263191) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:21PM (#19493749) Homepage

      Hey guys, let's say you have a 500 foot pole out in space, far away from anything (no friction, nothing). you are on one end of the pole, and i on the other. Then i push the pole towards you. When does the other end of the pole move towards you, after MY END MOVES? is it instantaneous? or does it take .000000005 seconds of whatever. Like the atoms of the pole push each other on and on and so forth till it gets to the end. if it does take time, is it faster than light, or slower? what if the pole was 300,000,000 meters long? does it take about 1 second for u to notice the other end moves?



      Do not try to push the pole. That's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no pole. Then you'll see, it is not the pole that is pushed, it is only yourself.


      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Do not try to push the pole. That's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no pole. Then you'll see, it is not the pole that is pushed, it is only yourself.

        Woah!
      • by nbritton (823086)

        Hey guys, let's say you have a 500 foot pole out in space, far away from anything (no friction, nothing). you are on one end of the pole, and i on the other. Then i push the pole towards you. When does the other end of the pole move towards you, after MY END MOVES? is it instantaneous? or does it take .000000005 seconds of whatever. Like the atoms of the pole push each other on and on and so forth till it gets to the end. if it does take time, is it faster than light, or slower? what if the pole was 300,000

    • by sk8king (573108)
      I have often had the same thought, except in my mental experiment, there is a rope instead of a pole.

    • Re:Speed of sound (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:21PM (#19493763)
      It will be whatever the speed of sound is in the pole. Assuming a perfectly rigid material it would be instant, but there is no such thing and the actual speed will much less than c.
      • What if it is the gravitational field that changes. Say the sun disappeared or exploded, would we find out about it immediately or after so many minutes. In other words, do the gravitational field disturbances also propagate at the speed of light?
    • by Barterer (878209) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:27PM (#19493863)
      The "speed of force" as you put it, is not really a speed inherent to force. You would be measuring how fast a tensile or compressive wave passes through the pole, same as the speed of sound through it. It would be much slower than the speed of light.
    • by JesseL (107722)
      Your shove on the pole would travel down it's length as a compression wave. I'm not sure but I suspect the the wave would travel at the speed of sound in whatever your pole was made from (if it was steel @ 4500 m/s it would take 1,111.1 hours for the compression wave to travel 3,000,000 meters)
    • by Russ Steffen (263) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:31PM (#19493943) Homepage
      I asked this question in a physics class and the answer I got, which makes quite a bit of sense, is that force travels through a material at the speed of sound. So if in your example your 500 foot pole was made of steel, the opposite end starts moving roughly 30 milliseconds after you push the near end. (The speed of sound in steel is very roughly 5000 meters/sec.)
      • by magarity (164372)
        The speed of sound in steel is very roughly 5000 meters/sec
         
        So if you fire said steel pole out of a rail gun with a 10,000m/sec muzzle velocity the pole would come out -500 feet long?
        • by JesseL (107722)
          Only if all the force of the rail gun is applied to only the back end of the pole. If the force is applied equally to the entire pole at once, there shold be no distortion.
        • by NMerriam (15122)

          So if you fire said steel pole out of a rail gun with a 10,000m/sec muzzle velocity the pole would come out -500 feet long?


          I'm pretty sure the entire object has to be accelerated before it can leave the muzzle.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by alzoron (210577)
          The steel pole isn't going to have a constant compression rate. As the pole is compressed more and more its density increases thus changing the speed of sound through it. Both ends of the pole would likely "catch up" with each other before we experienced any major space-time paradoxes that destroyed the universe as we know it.
        • You're assuming that shooting steel pole from a rail gun is equivalent to pushing one end of it. Most likely it is not. However if for the sake of discussion we'll assume that you just bumping something into the generic steel pole at the speed of 10km/s, I highly doubt we will be talking about elastic deformations at this point - thus same model of compressed wave propagation will no longer apply.
    • by wanerious (712877)
      In physics, we usually model the atoms in the solid pole as connected by stiff springs. The speed of communication of a force between one end and the other would depend on the stiffness of the springs (or, realistically, on the rigidity of the material the pole is made of). This is usually defined to be the speed of sound in the material, and it is typically much, much less than the speed of light.
    • by Cadallin (863437) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:32PM (#19493969)
      Wow, I was hoping that there would already be an explanation answering this, but here you go: The speed of "force" as you put it, is actually quite slow. It's a actually the speed of sound through the object. Why? Because when you push the rod, you're bumping the molecules, they have to push the molecules in front of them, and on until you reach the end. This is actually a sound wave propagating the medium, you just usually can't hear it. Now, if you had a perfectly rigid pole (cue penis jokes here) it would seeming move instantly. However, no known substance is anywhere close to perfectly rigid. Even atomic nuclei, which are, far, far more rigid than bulk matter, behave like drops of fluid and can have waves propagate through them. So no, you can't forge a pole to another planet and communicate instantly, it would be hugely slower than normal radio.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lelitsch (31136)
      Way before you run into any relativistic effects--or even the speed of sound inside the pole--basic 17 century Newtonian physics [wikipedia.org] will make the process less than instantaneous.

      Also, thanks to Newton's Third Law, space is like Soviet Russia: In space, the pole pushes you [utk.edu].
    • by EMeta (860558)
      To oversimplify: Most solid matter has some stiffness. You know, like springs' K. Even the most brittle objects bend a bit. (Glass, say, has an extremely large stiffness.) Now model your rod like a system of two balls connected by a spring. [ O--VVV--O ] If you push one end (then stop), the other end will move, and eventually return to the same equilibrium (given no other forces applied). the time it takes to propagate the force, as you can probably now see, is determined by the spring's stiffness (
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by maz2331 (1104901)
      I'd expect the physical force would travel along the pole at it's local speed of sound in the material that the pole is made of. The pole's molecules have some space between them and are attracted to one another such that you have a solid. Therefore, pushing on one part of the pole will slightly compress the pole's material until the newly repositioned molecules bump into their neighbors and cause the motion to be propagated. If you try to accelerate the pole too quickly (faster than its local speed of s
    • by gatkinso (15975) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:57PM (#19494399)
      >> is it instantaneous

      No. Imagine a train at rest. The engineer decided to back up. Boom boom boom go all the cars in sequence as the slack between them is eliminated by the cars compressing together. Finally, the caboose moves. Same deal with matter, but on a much smaller and faster scale, involving molecules and atoms.
    • by Hugonz (20064)
      The speed of any interaction is slower that the constant c (speed of light in the vacuum) This is one of the consequences of General Relativity.

      Is the sun exploded right now, that earth would start drifting into space ONLY after about eight minutes, which is the time it takes to the sunlight to reach us.
  • cool (Score:4, Funny)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:24PM (#19493813)
    now all we need is to capture a sun in supernova mode to power out space ships, hope it has a good fuel tank...
  • This is not new... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:24PM (#19493821)
    "Superluminal [wikipedia.org]" expansion from Quasars have been known since the 1960's. (They appear to be superluminal, i.e., faster than light speed, as they are so close to the speed of light that time dilation becomes important.)
  • Red-shift? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bugnuts (94678) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:34PM (#19494009) Journal
    "But officer, the light looked green!"
    • by PhxBlue (562201) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @01:14PM (#19494713) Homepage Journal

      "But officer, the light looked green!"

      I tried that and got a citation for speeding instead. Do you have any idea what the fine is for going 201,184,560 mph in a 35-mph zone?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by argStyopa (232550)
        You should fight that. If you were traveling what, about 16% of the speed of light toward the stoplight, that "red" light (650nm) would have appeared "green" (550 nm) to you.

        Not to mention that there would probably have been relativistic effects making your speed (from your viewpoint) and your speed (from the cop's viewpoint) significantly different!
    • by digitig (1056110)

      "But officer, the light looked green!"
      "Then I'm afraid I'm going to have to give you a ticket for exceeding a hundred-million miles per hour in a built-up area."
  • I am a genius (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @12:43PM (#19494141) Homepage
    If I stood on some of this matter that was flying out of a sun, and shot a bullet in the direction I was going, that bullet would break the speed of light!
    • by gatkinso (15975)
      No. It would not. The bullet would appear to do many different things, depending on your frame of reference.

      None of them involve the bullet appearing (or actually) attaining or surpassing the speed of light regardless of the frame of reference.
    • by Zaatxe (939368)
      If I stood on some of this matter that was flying out of a sun, and shot a bullet in the direction I was going, that bullet would break the speed of light!

      No, because 0.001% of the speed of light is still 300,000 meters per second. I don't believe you will find a gun that shoots a bullet that fast.

      But you have an interesting theory there, nonetheless. I once asked myself what would happen if two space ships flying at 70% of the speed of light and one cross the another, flying in opposite directions. Si
      • by gatkinso (15975)
        on each ship, the other appears to be appraoching at a speed approaching the speed of light.

        on a 'stationary point between, each ship appears to be approaching at thier respective speed, but the rate of closure appears to be approaching the speed of light.

        I think that is how it goes.

        I know, makes no sense except to the guy whose avatar is beside this story!
        • by zCyl (14362)

          on a 'stationary point between, each ship appears to be approaching at thier respective speed, but the rate of closure appears to be approaching the speed of light.

          Not quite. From the perspective of an observer between them, each ship appears to be approaching at 70% of the speed of light, and the apparent relative difference in speeds from that middle observer's perspective is 140% of the speed of light. However, this does not violate anything in special relativity, since the 140% is only an apparent rel

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Wooster_UK (963894)
        What happens is that velocities don't add together using the simple addition rule. See the Wiki [wikipedia.org]. Once you're at reasonable fractions of the speed of light (say about 10%; certainly by the time you hit 50%), the fact that it's not simple addition makes an appreciable difference. In your example, each space-ship measures the other as going at about 94% of the speed of light.
      • Re:I am a genius (Score:5, Informative)

        by wanerious (712877) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @01:18PM (#19494791) Homepage
        What really happens is that velocities don't add like that. They seem to for everyday objects, but relativistic effects become important at 0.7c. You should add them according to the Einstein formula: v = (B+v')/(1 + Bv') where B is the speed of one ship relative to an observer at rest (0.7c), and v' is the speed of the other ship in it's frame (0.7c). So the speed of one ship relative to the other is just v = 1.4/1.49 = 0.94c. You can see that, for small speeds, the product in the denominator is small, so we have the usual addition.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by xPsi (851544)
          What really happens is that velocities don't add like that. They seem to for everyday objects, but relativistic effects become important at 0.7c.

          Your post is right on. I might add that when relativistic effects become important for everyday objects might be a matter of application. For example, some GPS systems need to account for relativistic effects for the relativive motion of objects in orbit with respect to the surface of the earth (moving much smaller than 0.7c). It depends on the accuracy requ

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by FedeLebron (977157)
        Nope. Time dilation and space contraction take place here. Relativity states that if, say, you were going at 75% of the speed of light, and shot a missile at 50% the speed of light, neither you, nor the torpedo, nor a 3rd observer would see the torpedo go faster than light. They'd see it go juuust under c, about 95% of c. In relativity, adding of velocities isn't as simple as absolute v + relative v, it's an asymptotic function that means you never actually reach the speed of light.
    • by drxenos (573895)
      No, it wouldn't.
    • >>If I stood on some of this matter that was flying out of a sun, and shot a bullet in the direction I was going, that bullet would break the speed of light!

      Or better yet, turn on a flashlight. Light would break the speed of light!
    • by nomadic (141991)
      Oh. My. God.

      I cannot believe how many people wrote serious responses to a non-serious post.

      I was originally going to put in an "its a joke" disclaimer at the bottom, but I thought that would be silly, nobody would think I was serious, so I instead made the "I am a genius" subject line to indicate that it was meant to be humorous.

      If you can't tell dumb physics jokes on Slashdot, then I guess you really can't tell them anywhere.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by PhxBlue (562201)

        If you can't tell dumb physics jokes on Slashdot, then I guess you really can't tell them anywhere.

        If you don't want serious responses, you should try to make your dumb physics jokes actually funny. :)

    • by WaZiX (766733)
      That's exactly what the general theory of relativity proved would _NOT_ happen. From wikipedia article: "The speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers, regardless of their relative motion or of the motion of the source of the light". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_relativity [wikipedia.org]
  • Could this create blackholes?

    microblackholes = Dark matter?
  • Boom Boom Boom,

    fire the tachion cannon!
  • by jpellino (202698) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @01:01PM (#19494503)
    of chairs flying through meeting rooms in Redmond WA.

  • by LordKaT (619540)
    Why in the world did I read "Matter Discovered" as a name?
  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @01:19PM (#19494801)
    Why is this news? I read this article ten minutes from now.

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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