Not Terminators. Not DeLoreans. Not even Austin Powers.
This team, led by Prof. Shengwang Du, tested a single photon’s capacity for speed and determined that even in a vacuum, the photon’s velocity could not surpass the speed of light. As Du stated in a press release from the university, “…our results bring a closure to the debate on the true speed of information carried by a single photon.”
Ten years ago, time travel dreams were stoked by a controlled study in which optical pulses appeared to travel faster than light. That buzz was killed when scientists discovered that it was only a visual effect. Still, the velocity of a single photon was unknown, and speculations of time travel were still hotly debated by physicists and scientists. Prof. Shengwang Du and his team at HKUST managed to isolate single photons to test their speed and prove that, yes, Einstein was right all along.
This news should come as a comfort to China, who banned time travel in film and on television last March, on the grounds that history was being treated frivolously, and should not be portrayed as changeable.
Next up for Prof. Du and his team? A controlled study as to whether Freaky Friday could really happen. Well, that’s my suggestion, anyway.
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Anne Merritt has lived in Canada, Europe, and Asia. She teaches ESL, writes, haggles, hikes, and wears sunscreen fanatically. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, GoOverseas.com, and The Compass. Check out her blog.