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Faster Than The Speed Of Light

The Story of a Scientific Speculation

Joao Magueijo

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Description

The idea that the speed of light is a constant - at 186,000 miles per second - is one of the few scientific facts that almost everyone knows. That constant - c- also appears in the most famous of all scientific equations: e=mc2- Yet over the last few years, a small group of highly reputable young physicists have suggested that the central dogma of modern physics may not be an absolute truth - light may have moved faster in the earlier life of the universe, it may still be moving at different speeds elsewhere today.

In telling the story of this heresy, and its gradual journey towards acceptance, Joao Magueijo writes as one of the three central figures in the story, introducing the reader to modern cosmology, to the implications of VSL (variable speed of light) and to the world of physicists. The initial rejection of Magueijo's ideas is beginning to give way to a reluctant acceptance that the young men may have a point - only the next few years will tell the final fate of this 'dangerous' idea.

Publishers Weekly Review

16 December 2002 – Could Einstein be wrong and Magueijo right? Equally pressing for Magueijo, a lecturer in theoretical physics at London's Imperial College, is whether the physics editor at the preeminent science journal Nature is in fact "a first class moron" for rejecting his last paper. And did that cosmologist from Princeton steal his idea? What about all those hours wasted writing requests for funding from those "parasites," those "ex-scientists well past their prime" who dispense the monies that make contemporary science possible? Welcome to the world of career science, disclosed here in all its flawed brilliance. Magueijo's heretical idea—that the speed of light is not constant; light traveled faster in the early universe—challenges the most fundamental tenet of modern physics. Deceptively simple, the theory came to the author during a bad hangover one damp morning in Cambridge, England (many of the author's breakthroughs seem to arrive at unexpected moments, like while he's urinating outside a Goan bar). If true, Magueijo's Variant Speed of Light theory, or VSL, rectifies apparent inconsistencies in the Big Bang theory. Magueijo cunningly frames his journey with the stories of other famous, courageous heretics, notably Einstein himself, and one suspects an apologetics at work here. Magueijo, a 35-year-old native of Portugal, is opinionated and can seem immature and almost bratty in his diatribes against the banalities of academia or the hypocrisy and backbiting of peer review. But his science is lucidly rendered, and even his penchant for sturm und drang sheds light on the tensions felt by scientists incubating new ideas. This book shows how science is done—and so easily can be undone.
Faster Than The Speed Of Light
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  • £7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Astronomy
  • Published: 06 February 2003
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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