MadSci Network: Physics

Re: If an object vibrated at 1 trillion Hz, would it travel into the future?

Date: Wed May 4 10:02:33 2005
Posted By: Ed Stammel, Faculty, Computer, SUNY Delhi
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1115067979.Ph


This is a great question and good “outside-the-box” thinking. Let’s assume 
that the object you are referring to is moving back-and-forth in a 
straight line.  It must stop and turn around at each end.  It will 
therefore have zero velocity at the ends of it’s travel.  Thus the average 
velocity would be: 

v = d/t
v =(1.49E-4 m)/(1E-12 s)
v = 1.49E8 m/s 

The speed of light is about 3E8 m/s so your object is traveling, on 
average, about half as fast as light. But of course to average 1.49E8 m/s 
it must be going faster since it is stopped on each end, but how fast and 
for how long?

Assuming that the change in velocity from zero to the maximum is uniform, 
the average velocity would be the average of all of the velocities during 
the movement from one end of its course to the other.  That can be real 
tricky to do and is usually done with calculus.  But, since this is 
uniform, there is an easier way to do it.  During half of its trip it 
starts at zero and ends at its maximum speed before having to start 
slowing down before stopping on the other end.  What is its average speed 
during this part of the trip?

Va = (vi + vf)/2
Vf = 2va – vi
Vf = 2(1,49 E8 m/s) – 0
Vf = 2.98E8m/s

The second half of its travel from maximum to zero ends up with the same 
result. (Try your algebra skills to prove it using 2.98E8 as vi and 0 as 
vf) Like you said that’s about 99% of the speed of light.  That should be 
fast enough to have some relativistic effects, but will it?

For a good look at relative time go to:

There should be some relative time dilation occurring under the 
circumstances.  Can a material object be made to oscillate at such a high 
frequency?  How do we usually make things vibrate?  

Atomic and molecular particles are usually made to vibrate by subjecting 
them to varying electromagnetic fields.  Microwaves cook your food 
by “vibrating” water molecules.  NMR and MRI instruments vibrate 
individual protons, so there are ways to “shake” particles.  What 
frequency would be required and how much energy expended to keep an object 

Let’s use the smallest stable particle, a hydrogen atom and Nuclear 
Magnetic Resonance (NMR).  The usual range for NMR is up to 440 MHz which 
is less than half of what you need.  Even this can only be done with 
supercooled magnets.  The energy required to continue the shaking is 
around 752 MWatts for each atom!  (The calculations for this are tricky) 
Given just a few atoms you are well over a GigaWatt!  You would dim the 
lights in New York if you tried it on a fair sized sample.

An additional problem occurs with the relative change in mass.  As our 
object approaches the speed of light its relative mass increases in 
proportion to the time dilation.  Thus the force required to accelerate 
our object becomes even greater.  I don’t think there is enough energy on 
the planet to do what you want!

So…although your idea is really cool it has some inherent problems with a 
device which can shake your matter fast enough and have enough energy 
available to keep it going.  Ah but only if we had a “Mister Fusion” 
device available we could get rid of some garbage and generate enough 
energy with the “Flux Capacitor”.  I’ll bet you never thought such a 
simple question would have such a complex answer!


E Stammel

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