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joeschmo's avatar

Why is there nothing, nor can there be anything, faster than the speed of light?

Asked by joeschmo (1394points) April 2nd, 2019

Please explain “for dummies”, i.e., me.

There are scientific revelations, discoveries and contradictions.
Schools of thought.

Why is this a given? Could you explain this to me, a mere layperson and not a particularly sharp crayon.

Thank you.

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16 Answers

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Darth_Algar's avatar

Because light has 0 mass.

joeschmo's avatar

@Darth not helping.

ragingloli's avatar

Because the energy required to accelerate any object with mass approaches infinity as its velocity gets closer to the speed of light.

joeschmo's avatar

@raginloli does not help me comprehend it one bit. See details of my question.

joeschmo's avatar

@smartass now I am even more confused, and a bit nauseous.

Caravanfan's avatar

Actually, you can go faster than the speed of light. You just have to START faster than the speed of light. You can not travel AT the speed of light, therefore you can not accelerate past it.

The easiest way to describe it is with math. Scroll down to the Lorentz Equation
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_relativity

In the special circumstance where v (your velocity) = c (the speed of light) then you end up dividing by zero, and that’s not a thing in our universe. So it can’t happen.

What this also means is that as you accelerate towards the speed of light, your relative mass goes up and the energy required to go faster also goes up. As you hit the speed of light, your mass becomes infinite and the energy required to get there also becomes infinite.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN does this. It takes a beam of protons and accelerates it to ALMOST the speed of light using a huge cyclotron. The relative energy gets pumped up and then the proton beams are allowed to collide to create huge energies.

If you have more than a passing interest, I HIGHLY recommend the book The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. The first part of the book has the best explanation of Relativity I’ve ever read. The last part of the book gets lost in String Theory, but it’s worth it just for the first part.

seawulf575's avatar

I’m assuming that you are asking why no matter can go faster than the speed of light. Okay…remember Einstein’s E=MC2? Okay…start with that. So let’s say you are going to add energy to an object to increase it’s velocity (increase the speed). That energy you are imparting is E. C is the speed of light, C2 is the speed of light squared. These are constant since the speed of light doesn’t change. So as you increase E, if C is constant, that means for this equation to hold, your mass (M) has to increase as well…proportionally. So your mass increases which means your Energy increases. As that happens your mass continues to increase. It’s an ugly circle, but effectively both your Energy and Mass would end up being infinite.

LostInParadise's avatar

It was experimentally determined that the relative speed of light is constant. If you move toward it or away from it, the speed remains constant. How can this be? The special theory of relativity provides an answer.

The short answer to your question is that the way the Universe works is that nothing can travel faster than light. One example can be seen here Go down to the section labeled Special Relativity. Look at the formula for addition of velocities. For two speeds less than the speed of light, the relativistic sum of their velocities is less than the arithmetic sum because of the (vu’/c^^2) term in the denominator. It turns out that for any speeds less than the speed of light, the relativistic sum will also be less than the speed of light. At the extreme, if you plug in v=c into the equation, you get u=c.

Inspired_2write's avatar

“Why is there nothing, nor can there be anything, faster than the speed of light?”
Because it is unknown to us at this time.
Who knows there very well be something that we as humans do not see nor understand what we see as yet.
Example: a car speeding past us is seen until it goes so fast that it seems to disappear, but really it is still there, but we cannot see it using our senses.
Question then becomes “What else do we not know about ?”
( perhaps other dimensions , parallel universes? much more?)

Darth_Algar's avatar

I have never seen a car seem to disappear, no matter how fast it was moving.

Inspired_2write's avatar

@Darth_Algar It is a metaphor.
And if it was that fast one would not know it, to see it.

seawulf575's avatar

@joeschmo are you getting the answer you were looking for?

joeschmo's avatar

Not really, but enjoying the ride.

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