Dewey B. Larson
755 N.E. Royal Court
Portland, Oregon 97232
May 5, 1981
The attached letter replying to a series of questions from Homer Ballard may be of some general interest. These inquiries were prompted by a news item reporting direct and unambiguous evidence of speeds greater than that of light in the quasar 3C 273. Ballards questions were as follows:
a. On the basis of your theory, what would happen physically to an object, such as a spaceship, if it were to exceed the velocity of light. Would its occupants survive?
b. Assuming that the occupants of a superlight spaceship did survive the transition, what would the physical effect of return to sublight speeds be?
c. You have stated that antimatter (your C matter) will probably not be used as a fuel in future spaceships because of our inability to keep it together in a space location, however it has apparently been produced and collected for several days in storage rings for colliding beam experiments. How do you explain this?
d. Assuming C matter could not be collected, what form of matter might serve as a fuel for superlight propulsion? You state that matter in old galaxies reaches a point in ageing where it explodes driving some of the galactic mass above light velocity. Would this form of matter serve? What is it?
e. I believe that you have stated in one of your publications that the idea of superlight drivers and so called space warps is unlikely to become reality, yet your theory does predict the possibility of superlight communication via gravitational, electromagnetic and static-electrical physical vibrations does it not? If superluminal communication, then it would seem that eventually we may be able to reduce a physical object to information and communicate it wherever we desire on an appropriate superluminal vibration. What are your thoughts on this?
Mr. W. Homer Ballard, Jr.
1108 Pleasant Dale Ave.
Colonial Heights, Va. 23834
Dear Mr. Ballard:
Since I am a science fiction fan myself, and enjoy reading about space travel, exotic energy sources, etc., I do not like to have to throw cold water on the possibility that some of these things might be brought within the realm of reality. Unfortunately, however, the picture that emerges from the development of the concept of a universe of motion has no place for these products of the imagination. Nor can it accommodate the equally imaginative products of the modern astronomer, such as the black holes and the big bang. Perhaps this makes the universe rather dull, but we have to take it as it comes.
Speeds greater than that of light are possible in that universe, to be sure, but it is not possible to change position in space at a rate exceeding the speed of light. The higher speeds result in a change of position in time. Consequently, they are of no use to the would-be space traveler. The super-luminal speeds reported in the article in Science News are fictitious. They are based on the cosmological hypothesis as to the location of the quasars, which greatly overstates the distance. The actual distance of 3C 273, according to my calculations, is close to the 0.0031 distance of M 87, the giant galaxy from which it was probably ejected, rather than the 0.158 cosmological distance assumed for purposes of the astronomers speed calculation. When the 9.6 c speed is reduced by this ratio, it becomes 0.19 c, or about 5600 km/s, which is fast, but not remarkable.
Answering your last question first, the theory does not allow communication at a speed exceeding that of light in space, nor does it allow communication at a speed less than that of light in time. It follows that neither sector can utilize the speeds of the other for communication purposes. The answers to your other questions follow:
a. The matter of which the occupants are composed would survive, providing that the internal speeds within the ship (the temperatures) remained low. But life processes could not survive the required acceleration.
b. If the effects of the acceleration could be avoided, there would be no adverse result from the high speed of the ship. The critical speeds are the internal speeds. There is nothing to prevent a low temperature aggregate from moving at a high speed.
c. Some sub-atomic particles of the inverse (cosmic) type have a degree of stability in the material environment, and any cosmic particle or atom is stable at the speed of light. As I pointed out in NBM, the true nature of the antiparticles produced in the accelerators is still uncertain. In any event, the experimental results show that contact of these particles with their anti forms does not result in the annihilation required by the antimatter hypothesis, except in the one case of the electron and the positron.
d. It is not possible to reach speeds in excess of that of light by any kind of a propulsion process; that is, one in which the speed is added incrementally. Fractional units do not exist in the universe of motion. Speeds less than unity (the speed of light) are therefore possible only by utilizing units of the inverse quantity to modify one speed unit. The resulting speed is 1-(l/n), where n is the number of units of inverse speed, which I have identified as energy, t/s, or speed of a mass, mv2 = t3 /s3 x s2 / t2 = t /s. As you can see, the net speed, 1-(l/n) never exceeds 1, no matter how many units of n are applied. In order to reach speeds above unity, a full speed unit must be applied, increasing 1-(l/n) to 2-(l/n). The only process energetic enough for this purpose, so far as I have been able to determine, is an extremely violent explosion. It follows that speeds in excess of that of light, originating in the material sector, are confined to the products of explosions of large astronomical objects: stars or aggregates of stars.
D. B. Larson