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Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 19:21:26 +0200
From: Tony Martinez 
Subject: Re: (urth) Father Inire's Mirrors and Wolfe Physics

> On this and on the subject of how well Wolfe describes technical concepts in
> layman's terms, I have picked up a rumor that Father Inire's mirrors operate
> by quantum tunneling. Is this true and, if so, can any physics grads
> critique how well he justifies this in the famous "fish" explanation"?

I don't have a copy of the book on hand, so forgive any
misrememberings.  I seem to remember the argument goes something like
this: light is, mathematically, made up of lots of different
frequencies, from 0 upto infinity.  This means that some of the
components of light travel *faster than light*.  I remember this scene
as a speculation that if you could remove all the frequencies which,
added together, slow down the sum total, you'd have the ones which
travel faster than light. (*)

It's a nice idea, which someone once told me had been the object of
study.  But light seems to strongly resist being separated thus
so... (**)


(*) It's the speed of the wave group which is "the speed of light",
not it's components.

(**) I remember being told by a physics professor that he knew of a
group which researched this very topic.  Year after year, they came up
with ingenious ways of splitting the frequencies, and year after year
people came up with even more ingenious explanations of how they
hadn't /quite/ managed it.  Dunno how true this is, mind you.


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