Friday, September 23, 2011

Faster than the speed of light

By now, you've heard about the physicists in Europe who measured the speed of some neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. There are lots of articles I could've linked to, but this one mentions time travel, and I want to talk about that.

Somebody on facebook asked if it had any implications for arguments for the existence of God. I'm not qualified to answer that question, so I'm going to answer it. That's just the way I roll. I'm a blogger.

Up until now, the word on the streets has been that it's impossible for anything to move faster than the speed of light. There are good reasons for this, which I have read in physics books and which I can't explain from memory. I've glossed over some non-academic and unreliable sources on the internet that say that if it's possible for something to move faster than the speed of light, then time travel is possible. That's what the article seems to be saying that I linked to above. If that's so, then it could spell disaster for the kalam cosmological argument. Lemme explain.

The kalam cosmological argument depends on the A theory of time (i.e. the tensed theory, the dynamic theory, etc.). Backward time travel is not possible on the A theory of time because there's no past to travel back to. Backward time travel is only possible on the B theory of time (i.e. the tenseless theory, the static theory, etc.). So if backward time travel is possible, then the B theory must be true. And if the B theory is true, then the kalam cosmological argument is not sound.

But one could argue backwards. If backward time travel were possible, then it would result in all kinds of paradoxes. But paradoxes like those that would result from backward time travel are not really possible, which means that backward time travel is not possible. But backward time travel WOULD be possible if the B theory of time were correct. Since backward time travel is not possible, the B theory of time cannot be correct. So the kalam cosmological argument could still be sound. One could go on to argue that if neutrinos could move faster than the speed of light, then time travel would be possible, but since time travel is not possible, neutrinos cannot move faster than the speed of light.

Physics. It messes with your head. It'll be interesting to see what happens, 'cause you know this experiment is going to have to be repeated.


At 9/23/2011 2:07 PM , Blogger Sam said...

I just submitted this question to Bill Craig:

Dr. Craig,

There's some physicists in Europe who think they have measured some neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. According to this article:

...Einstein thought that if it were possible for something to travel faster than light, then backward time travel would be possible. But it seems to me that backward time travel is only possible if the B theory of time is correct because otherwise there's no past to travel back to. But you have always advocated the A theory of time. So here's my question: Is the A theory of time necessary for the kalam cosmological argument to be sound? Could the kalam cosmological argument be sound if the B theory of time were true? If so, and if neutrinos really can travel faster than light, would that invalidate the kalam cosmological argument?



At 10/05/2011 10:02 AM , Blogger Sam said...

Bill Craig actually answered my question!

At 11/09/2011 6:45 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

I think time has overtaken the link and another question/answer is there now. Could you link to the archive or give a summary of what he said?

At 11/09/2011 6:46 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

PS I still don't think the kalam is sound in any case.

At 11/09/2011 7:36 PM , Blogger Sam said...

I can't remember exactly what that article said because I read a lot of articles around the same time. You've heard about the neutrino experiment, though, haven't you? If not, you can google it and get the scoop. Try googling "neutrinos time travel," and you could probably find something similar.

I another article recently that seemed to disconfirm the neutrinos traveling faster than light, though. In this article it says there was a mistake in the way they measured the neutrinos that, when accounted for, shows that the neutrinos did not travel faster than light.

Do you have Skype? Maybe we could argue about the Kalam, record it, and put it on youtube. Or you could just let me interview you on it.

At 11/09/2011 8:08 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

I did hear about the experiment, yes and despite the hype the margin for error in the experimental design was always going to be the more likely explanation. Still, sometimes it turns out there really is an effect and we get a paradigm shift, so they have to look into it.

I don't skype yet, but I am looking into posting some guitar stuff on youtube and delivering lessons via skype, so I might be able to do that soon. Oh, and don't forget to stop by my blog...

At 11/09/2011 8:11 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Oh cool. Maybe you could give me a guitar lessons. I mostly play acoustic, but I bought an electric guitar a couple of months ago, and I've been learning some 80's hair band solos. :-)

At 11/09/2011 8:17 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Maybe I could learn your accent, too. :-)

At 11/09/2011 9:01 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

I think you already have the accent down, as I recall :-)

At 11/18/2011 1:22 PM , Blogger Sam said...

It looks like they ran the test again and got the same results. Second experiment indicates faster-than-light particles

At 12/09/2011 1:16 AM , Blogger Sam said...

Psiomniac, I was just re-reading these comments, and it looks like I misunderstood you when you said my link was no longer good. I thought you were talking about the link in the body of my blog post, but you were talking about the link in the comment just above yours where Bill Craig responded to my question. Anyway, here is Bill Craig's response.

At 12/16/2011 8:46 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Thanks Sam, I think Dr Craig gave an interesting answer. I still think it very unlikely that these results will stand though.


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