I will begin by stating that I do not have a degree in physics. I have taken a small handful of physics courses. But I am a Mathematician, and since nothing says Physics like some fun equations - I think I can stand my ground in a Physics debate.

Mischa Brendel wrote:Okay, I have no degree in physics whatsoever and it also wasn't one of my better subjects in high school, so I am a layman, but could you try and explain how it is argued that an object increases in mass when its velocity increases? I know that mass is a form of energy (just like velocity), so that would mean that if an object's velocity increases, it's potential energy increases. Am I correct?

Actually it's pretty simple mathematically speaking (but we now know it not to be true). If an object is to accelerate to the speed of light, then there must be an amount of Force behind that object to make it accelerate to that speed. Force = mass x acceleration (that's a times symbol in there).

This requires Newton's Laws of Motion to "justify" (but the idea of mass changing in this fashion is not Newtonian):

A particle in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force

Acceleration is parallel and directly proportional to the net force and inversely proportional to the mass, aka Force = mass x acceleration (we just said that)

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

Okay so if Light Speed is a maximum and if there are no forces acting on the object (other than the force pushing the object to the speed of light) then we can hold Force to be a constant and acceleration to be a constant. But acceleration must decrease somehow (or else we could accelerate to any speed we like - even a million times the speed of light), so the only other variable to manipulate in this equation is Mass.

Okay so to summarize thusfar - we have a force that is acting on an object and causing it to accelerate towards the speed of light. Since there are no other forces acting on the particle there is, by definition, nothing to slow the object down as it approaches the "supposed" maximum of the speed of light.

Since Einstein said the speed of light was the maximum speed, enter the Lagrangian which requires at least 2 years of Math (starting at Calculus) to be explained in detail. Suffice to say, Einstein's theory of relativity, utilizing the Lagrangian, demonstrated that the mass of an object approaches infinite mass as it approaches the speed of light.

Let me say that again. An object approaches **infinite** mass as it approaches the speed of light. Welcome to the world's most powerful black hole, and all it takes is the worlds smallest particle to disprove it (what has just happened - if Einstein were right, the entire universe would have just collapsed in on itself instantaneously when CERN managed to track a particle with mass moving faster than light...if not sooner than that).

How does this happen? Remember in grade school when your teacher told you you couldn't divide by zero? Well the equation Einstein uses in his Relativity show that as velocity approaches the speed of light, a fraction that is set equal to mass (with a constant multiplied in, so it doesn't change things) starts to have its denominator approach zero. To put it into perspective, if you were going 90% the speed of light you'd weigh more than double what you do now; if you were going 99% the speed of light you'd weigh 7 times your current weight, if you were going 99.9% the speed of light you'd weigh 22 times your current weight. 99.99% = 70 times your mass, 99.999% = 223 times, 99.9999% = 707 times, 99.99999% = 2236 times...see the trend?

I'd like to carry this out to further places but after a little while my calculator starts complaining that I'm dividing by 0. Apparently even a simple computer realized there's **something** weird going on here.

**Layman's terms - what does that mean?**

Think about a car. Imagine driving down the road and as you drive your car gets heavier...like a lot heavier, but your engine stays exactly the same. As your car gets bigger, you start to slow down because your engine is only designed to move so much weight. Your car gets bigger and bigger until it's now the size of skyscrapers - yet your engine remains the same. By this point you should have slowed to a crawl (if you're even moving at all anymore).

Basically this means that Einstein couldn't explain how else the speed of light could be a maximum speed, except to say that an object's mass increases exponentially as you get closer to the speed of light, thus reducing the acceleration of the particle to the point where the particle can never reach the speed of light simply because the speed of light is a maximum (which is the problem I have long had with Einstein's Relativity, not to mention it sounds like a "because I said so" type of thing - there was never proof that there "should" be a maximum, only conclusions drawn from incomplete data).

Mischa Brendel wrote:As for being able to travel faster than light: quantum physics already destroyed that theory (even though as far as I know it's still only a theory itself). When you have two quantum particles which are entangled, knowing the state of one particle immediately tells you the state of the other particle, regardless of where those particles are. So if you put one of those particles at the edge of the galaxy and you keep the other one on earth, and then you measure the state of the particle on earth, you immediately know the condition of the particle on the other side of the galaxy, meaning that the information of the state of the particle has traveled faster than light. It should be noted here as well that these quantum parts only 'get' a state once you measure them (at least, that's the way I understand it). I know, quantum physics are weird.

-Mischa

What you are referring to Mischa is Quantum Entanglement. And yes, it "should" disprove faster than light travel, but as the famous saying goes (to paraphrase): Those that claim to understand Quantum Mechanics don't. It doesn't disprove anything since we don't actually understand it ourselves. Quantum Entanglement has measurable results that are completely unexplained.

I like to think of Quantum Mechanics as a Socratic admittance by Physicists that "they know nothing" because that is essentially what it stands to say.

~Robert