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Gravity Probe B

Testing Einstein's Universe

Special & General Relativity Questions and Answers

Can information between pairs of particles travel faster than light?

Suppose you and your friend took a red and a black marble, mixed them up and then selected one each without looking at their colors. Now, one of you gets on a plane and travels 4000 miles to another city. Then at a pre arranged moment noted by Universal Time, you both look at the marbles. You, will know 'instantly' what the color of your partner's marble is, so some kind of information has traveled faster than the speed of light to FORCE your partners marble to be the opposite color.


There is nothing you can do to use this as a faster-than-light signaling method. Real fields that do real work on distant matter do not travel faster than light. There is clearly something else going on, but it doesn't have to be a physical process at all. It can just be the replacement of ignorance by enlightenment. These are informational qualities that have no physicality at all, and so they can 'travel' faster than light.

I have always found the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen and Schroedinger Cat 'paradoxes' rather stupid because they confuse fields with information.

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All answers are provided by Dr. Sten Odenwald (Raytheon STX) for the NASA Astronomy Cafe, part of the NASA Education and Public Outreach program.