Is Quantum Tunneling Faster Than Light?

Information can’t travel faster than light, things can.

Part 5 and The Conclusion

One might think, based on knowing about the speed of quantum tunneling being instantaneous, that this means that particles can travel infinitely fast, breaking the speed of light, through a quantum mechanical barrier of finite, non-zero thickness.

That’s the misinterpretation that always crops up, and how people fool themselves ( and unscrupulous news organizations try to fool people) into thinking that they are breaking the speed of light.

But all that’s happening here is, a portion of quantum particles found in the pulse tunnels through the barrier, while the majority of particles do what the tennis ball does: they bounce back, failing to arrive at the destination.

If you can front-load which particles make it through the barrier, preferentially cutting off the particles in the back of the pulse, you’ll falsely measure a faster-than-light speed, even though no individual particle breaks the speed of light.

This simply means that the actual process of tunneling itself, where the transition occurs from being in a bound state on one side of quantum barrier to an unbound state on the other side, doesn’t take any extra, additional time on top of all other physical effects.

Moving a certain distance in a given time is still limited by Einstein’s Relativity, with this restriction applying to each and every particle under all circumstances.

Categories: science

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