Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Word of the Day -- Tachyon

A tachyon or tachyonic particle is a hypothetical particle that always moves faster than light. The word comes from the Greek: ταχύς or tachys, meaning "swift, quick, fast, rapid", and was coined in 1967 by Gerald Feinberg. The complementary particle types are called luxon (always moving at the speed of light) and bradyon (always moving slower than light), which both exist. The possibility of particles moving faster than light was first proposed by Bilaniuk, Deshpande, and George Sudarshan in 1962 although the term they used for it was "meta-particle".


Most physicists think that faster-than-light particles cannot exist because they are not consistent with the known laws of physics. If such particles did exist, they could be used to build a tachyonic antitelephone and send signals faster than light, which (according to special relativity) would lead to violations of causality. Potentially consistent theories that allow faster-than-light particles include those that break Lorentz invariance, the symmetry underlying special relativity, so that the speed of light is not a barrier.


No comments: