The Cosmic Speed Limit (1)

“All our sweetest hours fly the fastest.” –Virgil

If you’ve been around the block once or twice, you know that the speed of light in a vacuum — 299,792,458 meters-per-second — is the absolute maximum speed that any form of energy in the Universe can travel at. In shorthand, this speed is known as c to physicists.

But you or I, no matter how hard we try, will never attain that speed. There’s a simple reason for this: we have mass. And for an object with mass, you can accelerate it all you want, but it would take an infinite amount of energy to reach c, and I’m sorry, folks, there’s only a finite amount of energy in the Universe.

But that doesn’t mean we settle for 90% of c, or 99%, or 99.9999%. We always strive for that extra fraction of speed, that extra bit of energy, that extra push ever-closer to the unattainable limit. You may be most familiar with our latest attempts to do this at CERN, where we’ve recently discovered the Higgs Boson.


See Also:

#1 — How fat is Schrödinger’s cat?

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