It’s all a matter of speed….

Scientists in Scotland have shown how to slow the speed of light in vacuum. See here for details.

What? Wait a mo… slow the speed of light in VACUUM!

And they did it by ‘changing the shape’ of the photons…. but, But, BUT THAT MEANS…

OK…. before I do a logic dump on this blog, let’s do a science fiction list of stories where the speed of light has changed.

Let’s try Vernor Vinge’s Fire Upon the Deep, which won the Nebula in 1993. This identifies four zones. The inner two zones of our galaxy cannot initiate faster than light travel, whilst the outer two can. This is more about the effects of what can and cannot be done about travelling faster than light, than changing the speed. So this really does not change the speed the light.

How about Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave? This is about Earth moving out of an inhibiting field to allow  certain ‘electromagnetic and electro-chemical processes to speed up. This could be taken as increasing the speed of light. But the book concentrates on the effects on intelligence.

There was also a short story C-Change by Charles Sheffield, published in the Probability Zero column of Analog November 1992, or so I’ve been told. I don’t know what the story is about.

[Many thanks to all who pointed me in the direction of these stories.]

I’m sure there must be others… surely there must be… anyway, there are implications about the fact that the speed of light can no longer be proven to be constant at a distance. That means light could be travelling at a slower speed elsewhere in our universe, or even as closer to home, within our galaxy.

Right it the speed of light is slower, what does it mean for black holes and event horizons and all that sort of thing? It means black holes will be bigger.

Now, if we observe these larger black holes caused by the slower light speed, but still believe or assume that the speed of light is as we experience it locally at the faster speed… then we would deduce that the black hole has more mass than it really does. This of course means that our universe would have more mass than it really does.

Does this remind you of another problem? The missing dark matter. If we assume this problem is due to the variation in the speed of light, it would mean that there are places where the speed of light is faster than what we know it as. So that means there must be a mechanism to alter the speed to light to go faster… um… maybe we can travel to the stars faster than we think we can now… um… who’s going to write the science fiction story that does that?


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