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Physicists have found a way to break the existing Speed of Light

by Sai Vardhan

Physicists have found a way to break the existing Speed of Light

May 22, 2021

Light is the fastest medium that travels like a flicker, with speeds beyond the charts. But did you ever wonder if there is a way we could tweak that speed of light?

Physicists and researchers of esteemed universities have made it possible by playing with it. It has altered the future of laser technology and other fields of physics like light, waves, etc. Yes, they broke the already subsisting morning’s speed, viz—186,000 miles per second.

The Law of Speed

So for decades, we have known that light, or to be more precise, a photon of light in a vacuum travels at a speed of 299,792,458 kilometres (roughly 300 thousand km) per second.

Many think that the law of speed is impossible to break, and yes, it usually can’t be broken, but there are also specific aspects of light that don’t play by the rules. And altering particular laws or regulations can make travel through the stars quicker. 

photon-light-scoolbuzz
A photon of light in a vacuum travels at a speed of 299,792,458 kilometres (roughly 300 thousand km) per second.

Developments Made

So, physicists thought about playing with the speed limit of light pulses to a certain amount by speeding them up and down to a virtual standstill point.

They used special equipment and materials like “cold atomic gases” to alter the speed, which aids light speed reduction to 17 meters per sec. The “refractive crystals” also help in the deceleration of a weak pulse whose width is more extensive than non-linear response time (<~0.025 cm/s) and optic fibers. All of this took place in the plasma.

A more detailed explanation of this Experiment is published in the Physical Review Letters.

What is Plasma?

Plasma, in physics, is understood as an electrically conducting medium in which approximately equal numbers of positively and negatively charged particles are elicited when the atoms in a gas become ionized. It is periodically referred to as the fourth state of matter, distinct from the solid, liquid, and gaseous states.

plasma-scoolbuzz
Plasma is understood as an electrically conducting medium in which approximately equal numbers of positively and negatively charged particles are elicited when the atoms in a gas become ionized.

Challenges Faced

Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the University of Rochester in New York have manipulated to tune the speed inside hot swarms of charged particles (plasma) anywhere around one-tenth of light’s usual pace and more than 30 per cent faster.

This so-called speeding is both more and less impressive than it sounds cause some might hope it’ll help us fly to Proxima Centauri ( it is a small, low-mass star located 4.2465 light-years (1.3020 pc) away from the Sun in the southern constellation of Centaurus ) and back in time for tea.

Practical Knowledge

A photon’s speed is locked in by the weave of electrical and magnetic fields, cited as electromagnetism. There’s no way around that, but pulses of photons within narrow frequencies also scramble in ways that create such regular waves.

So this rhythmic rise and fall of whole groups of light waves which move through stuff at a ratio are depicted as group velocity, and it’s this wave among the other group of locks that can be tweaked to slow down or speed up, depending on the electromagnetic ailments of its surroundings. Therefore, shredding those electrons away from a surge of hydrogen and helium ions with the use of a laser helped the researchers to change the group velocity of light pulses which are sent through the device by a second light source by putting the brakes on the gas’s ratio and forcing the pulse’s features to change shape.

The overall impact took place due to refraction from the plasma’s fields and the primary laser, which produced a polarized light used to shred them down. The individual light waves are still zoomed along at their usual pace, even as their collective wave movements like a dance appeared to accelerate.

What is the use of this Experiment?

From a theoretical physicist standpoint, the Experiment helps to strike new ways of understanding the physics of plasma and further limitations on the current accuracy of existing models. But from a practical standpoint, this is big for progressive and advanced technologies waiting in the wings for clues and turning those obstacles into a reality that is preventing them.

Out of all the Experiment, Lasers emerged as the winners here. All old-school lasers generally rely on solid-state optical substances, which alter tend to get damaged when entering the medium as the energy cranks up. Utilizing streams of plasma to amplify those light qualities has helped address the issue. Still, one thing to note is even though it won’t be accurate cause it’s not at the maximum point. So to squeeze the ultimate, they had to channel their electromagnetic characteristics.

plasma-ball-scoolbuzz
This Experiment helps to strike new ways of understanding the physics of plasma.

Future Scope

It’s no conjecture that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is keen on discerning the optical nature of plasma cause they have been home to some of the world’s most impressive laser technology. And speaking of this Experiment’s future with more powerful lasers is all they need, and they can unravel a whole bunch of applications based on this only stand-alone point. One of the straightforward cut ways they can use this is to ramp up particle accelerators to enhance clean fusion technology.

The tweaked speed might still not help us pass through starts any faster, but it’s these same discoveries that will accelerate us towards the sort of future we all fantasize about.

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