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November 30, 2006

Faster Than The Speed Of Light

Kevin Drum wonders if rumors really do travel faster than light, and implores folks to link here to help find out. Reminds me of one of my favorites parts from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

The history of the Galaxy has got a little muddled, for a number of reasons: partly because those who are trying to keep track of it have got a little muddled, but also because some very muddling things have been happening anyway. One of the problems has to do with the speed of light and the difficulties involved in trying to exceed it. You can't. Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws. The Hingefreel people of Arkintoofle Minor did try to build spaceships that were powered by bad news but they didn't work particularly well and were so extremely unwelcome whenever they arrived anywhere that there wasn't really any point in being there.

Update: Or, from comments, comes this passage from Mort (by Terry Pratchett):

The only things known to go faster than ordinary light is monarchy,
according to the philosopher Ly Tin Weedle. He reasoned like this: you
can't have more than one king, and tradition demands that there is no gap
between kings, so when a king dies the succession must therefore pass to
the heir *instantaneously*. Presumably, he said, there must be some
elementary particles -- kingons, or possibly queons -- that do this job,
but of course succession sometimes fails if, in mid-flight, they strike an
anti-particle, or republicon. His ambitious plans to use his discovery to
send messages, involving the careful torturing of a small king in order to
modulate the signal, were never fully expanded because, at that point, the
bar closed.

November 30, 2006 in Books | Permalink

Comments

Seems perfectly clear to me

Posted by: marcus | Nov 30, 2006 2:16:26 PM

Is UCLA intent on seeding the blogoverse with interesting bloggers that write well?

Or is it just the CA atmosphere (not the smoggy part, of course)?

Bad News isn't sufficiently powerful to exceed the SOL, but sex scandals (especially involving politicians) may well be. Too bad that the mores of the 'conventional media" act as a brake on SEX-SOL-Exceeding, but physics is physics.

We used to think that gravity explained it all, but now we know that that dark energy is more powerful than gravity - but we don't know what dark enery is (or dark matter, either, for that matter).

Are sex scandals the only SOL-exceeding force. Stay tuned, since everything isn't explained yet.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 30, 2006 2:45:30 PM

Or, from Mort (by Terry Pratchett):
The only things known to go faster than ordinary light is monarchy,
according to the philosopher Ly Tin Weedle. He reasoned like this: you
can't have more than one king, and tradition demands that there is no gap
between kings, so when a king dies the succession must therefore pass to
the heir *instantaneously*. Presumably, he said, there must be some
elementary particles -- kingons, or possibly queons -- that do this job,
but of course succession sometimes fails if, in mid-flight, they strike an
anti-particle, or republicon. His ambitious plans to use his discovery to
send messages, involving the careful torturing of a small king in order to
modulate the signal, were never fully expanded because, at that point, the
bar closed.

Posted by: fuyura | Nov 30, 2006 3:51:17 PM

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