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Will solid matter ever be able to travel at the speed of light?

Solid matter will never travel at the speed of light, according to University physics professor Keith Olive.

“The whole idea of having a limiting velocity is very counter-intuitive,? he says. “Generally, to make something go faster you give it more energy, but as you approach the speed of light what happens is that instead of the object moving faster, its effective mass increases. Its momentum increases, but not its speed. And so the energy goes right into mass rather than into velocity. You will never get to the point where the velocity equals the speed of light or goes above it.?

While many science fiction stories rely on objects moving faster than the speed of light as a fundamental plot element, Olive says that’s all the concept is – fiction.

“On television and Star Trek, when they talk about “moving at Warp 6,? they mean a velocity at six-cubed times the speed of light, or 216 times the speed of light,? Olive says. “For science fiction it’s essential that you move faster than the speed of light because otherwise, it would take hundreds of thousands of years to cross the galaxy and a few million years to get to other galaxies.? But, he emphasized, “It’s fictional.?

“The only things that can move at the speed of light are particles without any mass, like light,? Olive says. “Nothing with mass could go that fast.?

Keith Olive is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Minnesota. His research areas include cosmology and particle physics.