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starship-design: Faster than light? hmmmm. . .

So you wanna go faster than light.  Ok.  Just make sure you don't have any 
mass. ;)

Here is some information dealing with the much talked about "faster than 
light experiment" (also known as Gain -Assisted Superluminal Light 
Propagation)that you might find helpful.

(this info was taken from the website of the people who actually performed 
the experiment)

"The experimental study has been performed with great care and repeated 
numerous times. The results are consistent with what our theoretical model 
predicted. The theoretical model is entirely based on existing physics 
theories of Electromagnetism and Quantum mechanics.

It has been mistakenly reported that we have observed a light pulse’s group 
velocity exceeding c by a factor of 300. This is erroneous. In the 
experiment, the light pulse emerges on the far side of the atomic cell 
sooner than if it had traveled through the same thickness in vacuum by a 
time difference that is 310 folds of the vacuum transit time.

In our experiment, a smooth light pulse of about 3-microsecond duration 
propagates through a specially prepared cesium atomic chamber of 6-cm 
length. It takes 0.2 nanosecond for a light pulse to traverse a 6-cm length 
in vacuum. In our experiment, we measured that the light pulse traversing 
through the specially-prepared atomic cell emerges 62 nanosecond sooner than 
if it propagate through the same thickness in vacuum. In other words, the 
net effect can be viewed as that the time it takes a light pulse to traverse 
through the specially prepared atomic medium is a negative one. This 
negative delay, or a pulse advance, is 310 times the "vacuum transit time" 
(time it takes light to traverse the 6-cm length in vacuum).

Our experiment is not at odds with Einstein’s special relativity. The 
experiment can be well explained using existing physics theories that are 
consistent with Relativity. In fact, the experiment was designed based on 
calculations using existing physics theories.

However, our experiment does show that the generally held misconception 
"nothing can move faster than the speed of light" is wrong. The statement 
only applies to objects with a rest mass. Light can be viewed as waves and 
has no mass. Therefore, it is not limited by its speed inside a vacuum.

Information coded using a light pulse cannot be transmitted faster than c 
using this effect. Hence, it is still true to say that "Information carried 
by a light pulse cannot be transmitted faster than c." The detailed reasons 
are very complex and are still under debate. However, using this effect, one 
might be able to increase information transfer speed up to c."


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