Extending Einstein’s theory beyond light speed

October 11, 2012

Einstein’s relativity (credit: Johnstone/Wikimedia Commons)

University of Adelaide applied mathematicians have extended Einstein’s theory of special relativity to work beyond the speed of light.

Einstein’s theory holds that nothing could move faster than the speed of light, but Professor Jim Hill and Dr Barry Cox in the University’s School of Mathematical Sciences have developed new formulas that allow for travel beyond this limit.

Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity explains how motion and speed is always relative to the observer’s frame of reference. The theory connects measurements of the same physical incident viewed from these different points in a way that depends on the relative velocity of the two observers.

“Our approach is a natural and logical extension of the Einstein Theory of Special Relativity, and produces anticipated formulae without the need for imaginary numbers or complicated physics.”

The research has been published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society A in a paper, ‘Einstein’s special relativity beyond the speed of light’. Their formulas extend special relativity to a situation where the relative velocity can be infinite, and can be used to describe motion at speeds faster than light.

“We are mathematicians, not physicists, so we’ve approached this problem from a theoretical mathematical perspective,” said Dr Cox. “Should it, however, be proven that motion faster than light is possible, then that would be game changing.

“Our paper doesn’t try and explain how this could be achieved, just how equations of motion might operate in such regimes.”