Jump to content
  • entries
    33
  • comments
    19
  • views
    22,734

Photonic Boom?


bobbyburns

2,059 views

We've all heard of the famous "sonic boom" when a jet or rocket passes overhead at a speed greater than the speed of sound. Sound waves are fundamentally compressed tightly behind the object, creating the "bang". But if that is possible with sound, could it be possible with light?

Yup.

"Photonic Booms", as they're called, are created in situations where light waves aren't given enough time to radiate out into their own paths; they're constricted and are densely packed into each other. This creates constructive interference, creating massive amplitudes of the waves. A "photonic" boom.

Astronauts have historically complained of bright flashes in their eyes in space. The answer could very well be high speed particles that move faster than the speed of light (in air), but not faster than "c". The particles then create a photonic boom, right inside the astronaut's body.

So, even if those particles are moving slower than c, is it possible to break the universal speed limit? A common misconception is this scenario:

You want to push a button that is exactly one light year away. So, the fastest possible object, light, would take a year to get there, correct? But maybe there's an alternative. What if you had a board of something (wood, for example), and the board was one light year long? And if you placed the board in between you and the button, and then pushed the board (therefore pushing the button), did you just break the speed of light? As optimistic as it sounds, no. When you "push" something, you're moving it with small compression waves that move at the speed of sound in that material. So, sadly, if you were to push the board, it would take a VERY long time for the board to even collectively move in the direction of the button.

The universal speed limit, in this instance, is maintained.

1 Comment


Recommended Comments

It happens in nuclear reactors too, because the water slows light down.  They call it Cherenkov radiation, and it's pretty sweet.

Link to comment
Guest
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...