|Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003
I'm not sure anyone REALLY knows exactly what would happen if one were somehow at Warp 2 (twice the speed of light) with respect to a lab observer and fired a laser beam. If one ASSUMES he fires the laser beam somehow in ordinary observer space and frame, then it would have the speed of light to the external observer, but also it would have the speed of light to the Warp 2 person (depending on the model used here!) in his own moving frame! So what one would see, would depend in which frame one was "located". In relativity, a thing can have already happened to one observer, but not yet have happened to another observer in a different frame.
Note we wound up sorta assuming that he "fires the laser" means he simultaneously fires it in all frames at once; or put another way, all frames are always present, and "what is actually happening" or "seen to happen" depends in which one of those frames one is located! In other words, "firing a laser" is not really just "one simple thing in one frame", but an infinite number of things --- many of which are very, very different --- in an infinite number of frames. As he fires, in many frames he has fired, and in many other frames he has not yet even fired!
Here's an example of what we are talking about, and something being two completely different things (as observed). Suppose two fellows start moving in two ships alongside each other, and move (together) faster and faster with respect to that lab observer. As they approach the speed of light with respect to the lab observer, they are also rotating their length along their direction of travel (as seen by the lab observer) out of the lab observer's 3-space toward the time domain, as seen by the lab observer. Just as they attain light speed with respect to the lab observer, they "lose all length" with respect to that lab observer, so he now sees them as "photonic" or patterns of -dimensional wavefronts moving along at light speed! As they turn further (in a hyperspace with lots more dimensions), they lose another dimension, and then would seem to be a collection of "lines" traveling at c-squared velocity with the respect to the lab observer. One more rotation, and they would be a "point" with respect to the lab observer, moving at c-cubed. We really don't know how many "points moving at c-cubed" are "penetrating" our bodies at any one moment.
So the two observers, traveling along side by side together, and reaching light speed with respect to the observer in the lab, will be seen by that lab observer as "photonic" things traveling at light speed. But each still sees the other as a perfectly normal material ship and normal material person (body), not even moving at all, but sitting there still. They could even toss a ball back and forth to each other, easily, and the ground observer would have a very hard time figuring that one out!
So the REAL lesson of relativity is that physical reality itself is changeable and MULTIPLE, not singular. It is not absolute, but RELATIVE to the observer and observation. Now notice that you can also curve spacetime and rotate a frame without using velocity (but changing the energy density, etc.). So in effect, physical reality itself can at least in theory be directly engineered, once we use the proper higher form of electrodynamics and not the staid old stuff taught in electrical engineering.
But to be absolutely sure about your experiment, including all the nuances, I guess we'll just have to wait until superluminal travel becomes available, and then try it and see.
One can set it up in different "models" one assumes, and get different answers. But those are "model" answers. We really won't know till somebody actually does it in a real experiment.
Now the question is, If I observe that something is a photon (with respect to me), and another observer observes it as a mass standing still, what is it? How are we to handle the notion and the actuality that it is "two very different things simultaneously"??? That is what I mean by eliminating the "absoluteness' of physical reality. It isn't absolute, but relative to the observer.
This is why the observer cannot be eliminated from the consideration of "physical reality". We don't really know what kind of "ultimate reality" is behind our instrument measurements and observations! We can only know our measurements and observations -- and these are limited, because they are 3-spatial and thus "rip away time and throw it away" from what is at least an ongoing 4-space dynamics and interaction. We "see" a frozen instant snapshot, then another, then another, and we do this so rapidly that our minds integrate that series, just like a motion picture, and we "think" we see motion through 3-space. We actually do not, but INTERPRET it that way, like seeing motion in a motion picture film projected onto the screen, even though at any instant there is only a single frozen snapshot on the screen. This lets you know that the conscious mind is a serial processor, doing one thing at a time, but continually recalling past snapshots from memory, comparing, and integrating at very high speed.
The unconscious mind, e.g., is perfectly conscious, but multiply so. It is a massively parallel processor, with thousands of slides in the slide projector simultaneously at every moment. The conscious mind is a serial processor, very fast, but with only a single slide in the slide projector at any one moment. You can be killed, and still be alive with respect to one observer, while dead with respect to another. With respect to "your own" frame, you are either dead or alive, not any crazy combination! You can spend a lifetime pondering the depths of such questions as "If I am dead to X number of observers, and alive to Y number, then what is life and death? And what is "reality", particularly "physical reality"? Ultimately we can only answer the question in two manners: (1) scientifically, which gives us a relative and "as observed" answer, and (2) philosophically, which gives us a multitude of answers, depending upon what philosophy is applied or accepted.
But the difference between a very rapid serial processor and a massively parallel processor is why the conscious mind thinks the unconscious is really "unconscious", meaning it does not meet the criterion of "only a single slide in the slide projector at a time". The unconscious has "a thousand slides in the slide projector all at once", which the "single slide only" conscious mind can only "see" as a blur or darkness and as the total absence of any distinguishable "frame" or scene. So it thinks that the massively parallel mind is "unconscious", which rigorously only means "not a single slide at a time operator".
For centuries the philosophers studied (and debated) such things, and wound up never solving the fundamental questions, such as the nature of nothing, the nature of self, the nature of mind, etc. What happened was that many schools of philosophy were formed, each with its "position" or interpretation. And there the matter rests, even today.
In aikido and other martial arts, the martial arts practitioner gradually learns to utilize the massively parallel processor (unconscious mind), thus achieving a sensing that is often extraordinarily keen. It is possible to so heighten the senses, e.g., that one can "feel" a bug walking on the floor 12 feet away. But at that level of sensitivity, one is acutely uncomfortable in modern society. To survive in the modern tumultuous world with its great overloading of the senses, one has to "dull" one's sensitivity. But in the wild, human sensitivity is remarkable. An Australian aborigine, still living and practicing the old ways, can track a man's passage through the jungle, streams, etc. where even a bloodhound cannot track him. The Brits used to use them for just that purpose, in war and in tracking and catching criminals. Animal senses also tend to be very acute. A dog can often be trained to "smell" or somehow detect a certain disease such as a cancer. Etc.
But meanwhile, till we have the capability to actually go at Warp 2 and do your experiment and test it out, I guess we'll just have to work on how to get a ship up to that Warp 2 speed in the first place! But it is great fun to think about it, and to reflect on the marvelous nature of the physical world we inhabit and are part of.
Good thinking and best