Why can’t we exceed the speed of light?

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This article is from Sciences et Avenir – La Recherche n°905-906, July-August 2022.

“This is a consequence of special relativityRoland Lehook, an astronomer at the Atomic Energy Commission (SACLE), explains. In his seminal essay in 1905, Albert Einstein suggested that the speed of light is invariant whatever the frame of reference, which is tantamount to saying that it is insuperable. According to the dominant Galilean physics of the time, this was simply an extreme assumption, since the velocities were supposed to add to each other.”

To understand, you have to go back in time. Until the 17th century, philosophers and scientists assumed that the speed of light was infinite, immediately rejecting the possibility of exceeding it. Early in the 17th century, Galileo proposed the theory of a finite speed of light. It would take centuries of measurement effort, so at the end of the 20th century, an international agreement put it at 299,792,458 m/s in a vacuum. This velocity never varies, as the Americans Albert Abraham Michelson and Edward Morley inadvertently demonstrated. Since Plato, scientists have thought that space is comprised of a fluid with various properties called the ether. When the English physicist Thomas Young demonstrated the wave nature of light in 1801, logically, the ether appeared as a medium in which light waves propagated like the swells of the ocean. In 1881, Albert Abraham Michelson, together with Edward Morley, wanted to highlight the motion of the earth relative to this ether.

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