Saturday, April 20, 2013

Philosophy Wire: Electricity: Faster than light!

250263Philosophy FTL Wire by Spiros Kakos [2013-04-20]:

The experiments of Sir Charles Wheatstone showed that the velocity of electricity is about 288,000 miles per second, much greater than the speed of light. [1, 2, 3, 4]

electric
However in order to interpret this we must understand what “electricity” is. In fact we do not have electrons moving in such speed in a wire, but every new electron which is moving into the wire “pushes” the electron which at that time is at the end of the wire thus creating this result of high speed. [5, 6] One can even think of electricity as the propagation of a wave: given a large enough wave length the peak of the wave can almost “instantly” be sent to the other end of the wire. [see “velocity of propagation” here] (in AC we do not have at all propagation of electrons)


Electricity faster than light_skakos_3
But these notes do not nullify the importance of the abovementioned result. Electricity can transfer INFORMATION with speeds GREATER THAN THAT OF LIGHT, despite what proponents of the Theory of Relativity say (and the objections of New Scientist that the strength of the signal is lost in great distances does not hold – you can have speeds greater than the speed of light in small distances). And in any case, if these “electron-push”/ “wave propagation” mechanisms apply to electricity in a wire, why can’t it be applied analogously to light as well which is propagated in a space where the electromagnetic field in a sense “pre-exists”?

No discussion can go on with absolutes. Every absolute restriction science postulated (e.g. barrier of sound, possibility of flying, imaginary numbers etc) was later on discarded. Why don’t we learn from our mistakes?

PS. It is very interesting and suspicious that it is very hard (much harder than what one might expect) to find clear information regarding the speed of electricity in the otherwise rich with information Internet. It is characteristic that Wikipedia in the respective article writes about everything else (from electromagnetic waves to the drift speed of electrons) than the actual problem at hand [see here] and without referring to the experiment by Wheatstone. It just claims that the speed of electricity is that of light, with an Internet forum as a source. In other sites the confusion is similar [see for example here, here, here and here], with people confusing the speed of electricity with the speed of electrons, the speed of electricity with that of light et cetera, and without anyone referring to the actual experiments conducted to measure electricity speed.

PS2. And no, this is not the only “faster than light” example… See here, here and here for more…

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