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Jay Lake
Date: 2009-07-06 04:52
Subject: [links] Link salad goes to work from the beach
Security: Public
Tags:books, cool, culture, green, links, personal, photos, science
bravado111 with a photo spread on Green Powell's | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders ] — Heh.

Flags of forgotten countriesDark Roasted Blend with one for the vexillologists among you. Actually, I remember most of these countries.

Igniting Fusion — Mmm, warm.

Centauri Dreams with a roundup — I draw your attention to the subsection entitled "Superluminal Radio Waves and their Uses", in turn referring to this article. Paging Sam L. Tannaity to the office. I'm just a poor little low-rent SF writer with a liberal arts degree, so maybe it's just me, but I'm really struggling with this one. Comments from the better informed?

?otD: How long is Long Beach?

Body movement: n/a (will beach walk later)
This morning's weigh-in: n/a (no scale at beach house)
Currently reading: n/a (just finished P.S. Your Cat is Dead by James Kirkwood)

Originally published at jlake.com.

Post A Comment | 5 Comments | | Link

User: threeoutside
Date: 2009-07-06 14:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
'"If you take a laser and shine it on the moon and swing it rather gently, for example, the spot on the moon travels faster than the speed of light," Singleton said.'

Huh. Hadn't heard that one.

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User: yourbob
Date: 2009-07-06 15:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
AotD: All the way to the sea!
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User: elizaeffect
Date: 2009-07-06 15:54 (UTC)
Subject: I may be wrong
and it's been a few years since college Quantum, but to me it sounds like the journalist is completely failing to understand the science behind this and the guy is either actively encouraging the misunderstanding or his comments were cherrypicked. I'm leaning toward the former because of the way he seems to be presenting this work as an amazing scientific leap instead of interesting noodling with a well-known concept.

As one of the comments says, "signal velocity != phase velocity". Wikipedia can give you a basic idea:


IIRC, light as viewed as a wave can be thought of as having many different frequencies bouncing around inside it, and as the wave moves forward some of those frequencies are also moving "forward" inside the wave envelope. These combined velocities can add up to greater than the speed of light, but it's not exactly groundbreaking science to point this out, it's just math. The phase velocity can't carry information so it's not technically breaking the light barrier.

In the end the most interesting thing to come out of this project could be, like he says, hyper-boosted radio signals, assuming he actually knows what the hell he's doing and the synchrotron hardware can be crammed into something the size of a cellphone. The article does not make me confident. If he can tinker with this effect to imitate pulsars and keep a signal clean from surface to orbit without enormous amplifiers, that'll be a real achievement, but it'll be an engineering feat rather than a leap in our understanding of science.
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Jay Lake: tech-sythnoscope
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-07-06 15:57 (UTC)
Subject: Re: I may be wrong
Thank you. I wasn't really buying into it (cool as it sounds), now you've made more sense of why it didn't make sense.

If, erm, that made sense...
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User: elizaeffect
Date: 2009-07-06 16:31 (UTC)
Subject: Re: I may be wrong
Scienceblogs discusses it a bit, too, in terms of the referenced astronomy paper (though mostly they're making fun of some crappy site plagiarizing the original news article):

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