Ok, I know that likefood will be chomping at the bit to comment/rebuke this but PLEASE for the love of science read the entire post first.
It has been the subject of countless scientific debates, the center of endless science-fiction literature, and between them both it has single handedly been the leading cause of death for billions of trees (paper).
The Speed of Light.
Weather you are referring to actually building a craft that can do it or just trying to send an e-mail to grandma–circa the Pleiades–there is one constant speed limit that, thus far, cannot be broken. Why? Well now Timmy here’s your answer! The speed of light is NOT the universal speed limit (USL) that cannot be broken! in fact “the speed of light” (or TSOL) is actually BELOW the USL altogether! HOWEVER (and I use all caps on that one because this is huge) The actual speed of light (roughly 299,792,458 meters/s) is so close to the USL that the USL has been incorrectly labeled “the speed of light”.
Once upon a time I posed the following to likefood: If you were on a craft that somehow was able to travel at TSOL, and you turned on a flashlight and pointed it forward what would happen? Likefood–I suspect, simply having insufficient argument–declined a reply. Well I have the answer, and likefood it should have been your response. Once the flashlight was powered on, there would be a sudden bulb of light in front of the flashlight but that bulb would never become a beam and would in fact simply dissipate or reflect back into the face of the torch holder! You see it is NOT TSOL that prevents the light from moving beyond the vessel at equivalently faster speed, it is the USL that does!
Think of velocity (which is defined as the rate of change of position) as a ever shrinking value. If you are traveling at a given speed and you want to increase your speed you have to exert an increasing amount of energy to propel yourself that much faster. This equation involves three parts, your existing speed, your mass (or your overall weight and size), and the energy required to go faster. Well timmy, the closer to the USL you get the smaller you have to be in order to get closer to the USL. there is a very real and definable limit to how fast any object with measurable mass can go regardless of how fast the originating “push off point” was moving to begin with. So the USL tops out just under 300 million meters/s, the problem herin is simply that TSOL is NOT an unbreakable speed. In fact it not only can be done, it HAS been done! Just not with anything with mass!
So Timmy, what was the point of this little informational? To all you simple people out there reading your Issac Asimov books and star trek fanboys, please try to remember we are not trying to travel faster than light, that’s easy. We are trying to break the universal speed limit!
‘nough said… begone.