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The Enigma Of The Universe : Superluminal Speed

Published: 02.08.2014
Updated: 02.07.2015

A. Superluminal Speed

According to the Jain philosophy, the minimum velocity of a paramāṇu (the ultimate indivisible unit of matter) is one space-unit (ākāśa-pradeśa) per one samaya (the indivisible time-unit), while the maximum velocity is the entire length of the lokākāśa (cosmic space) travelled by a paramāṇu in a single samaya. I have discussed at length both the concepts samaya and lokākāśa in the book. We shall also see that āvalikā which is 45/242144 seconds = 1.7 * 10-4 seconds approximately is the practical unit of time which is measurable.

One āvalikā covers 'Jaghanya-Yukta-Asaṃkhyāta'[1] samayas. This number is impossible to be expressed in numerical figures, but it can be shown to have definite measurable value and its lower limit can be calculated. Jain mathematics expresses this number as greater than x where

x = yyyy...........(10134) times and y = 10101043

Again, we shall see that the maximum distance between two extremities of loka is 14 rajjus where a rajju covers asaṃkhyāta yojanas and can be roughly expressed as

R(rajju) = 1010196

light years. Thus the maximum velocity of a paramāṇu is not less than N light-years per second where N=x2 * R and the value of x is as given above.

How is this Jain view compatible with the Einsteinian equation of the increase of mass and the inference that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, the theoretical speed limit of the universe?

Now, we have seen that 'mass' is not an intrinsic quality of paramāṇu. Mass, according to the Jain view, is one of the four pairs of sparśa which are

  1. hot-cold
  2. gluey-dry
  3. heavy-light
  4. hard-soft.

Paramāṇu (and even material aggregates of some vargaās though composed of infinite number of paramāus) are catuḥsparśi, i.e., are agurulaghu (literally neither heavy nor light) which means that they have no mass.

If we accept the value m0=0, i.e. a paramāṇu has no mass, then the equation of the increase in mass with velocity becomes inapplicable, and, therefore, it would be possible that a paramāṇu can travel at a speed higher than that of light.

In modern science, some particles such as photon, muon, etc. are postulated as massless. But the word 'massless' here probably does not mean that they are actually possessing no mass.

'A massless particle' is an awkward translation from mathe­matics to English. Physicists know exactly what they mean by a 'massless' particle. A massless particle is a name they give to an element in mathematical structure. What that element represents in the real world, however, is not easy to describe and in all probabilities does not mean that the particle is completely devoid of mass.

It is well-known that light is affected by gravity and bends when it passes near a massive star. It is also known that light cannot escape back holes and is, therefore, positively affected by gravity which means photons have mass.

In paramāṇu, we have a different situation altogether - not only, it has zero rest mass but the energy of its motion must be such that it can travel with speed much higher than that of light. This may appear, in some ways, quite contrary to the fundamental inference of relativity theory that nothing can travel faster than light. But relativity itself permits the hypothetical existence of particles called tachyons[2] which came into existence, already travelling faster than light. In the formalisation of the special theory of relativity, tachyons have an imaginary rest mass. Unfortunately, no one knows what an 'imaginary rest mass' means in physical terms, or what the interaction forces could be between tachyons and the ordinary particles or real rest mass.

But, there is a fundamental difference between the particles such as tachyons and paramāṇus. While tachyons transfer energy and momentum through space, in case of paramāṇus there is no transport of momentum at all but pure energy only. Since momentum is a function of mass, there is no question of transport of momentum in the case of paramāṇu.


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Title: The Enigma Of The Universe Publisher: JVB University Ladnun English Edition: 2010 HN4U Online Edition: 2014

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Agurulaghu
  2. Asaṃkhyāta
  3. Jain Mathematics
  4. Jain Philosophy
  5. Loka
  6. Lokākāśa
  7. Paramāṇu
  8. Paramāṇus
  9. Rajju
  10. Samaya
  11. Samayas
  12. Science
  13. Space
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