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What's Wrong With This Joke was TandemSpeed Limit


In the group alt.folklore.computers:

On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 22:47:01 GMT, Philip Nasadowski

In the group sci.optics:

What's Wrong With This Joke was TandemSpeed Limit 2153
The cores probbably. What makes today's jetliner engines so efficient is the ever increasing bypbutt ratios. This doesn't apply to a turboshaft, of course. I'll see if I can dig...

wrote, in part:

When I was a young man at University, I remember being told the following joke:

A scientific journal (I believe it may have been Physical Review D) had been growing thicker over the last few years.

Also, the quality and importance of the papers that appeared in it were felt, in some quarters, to have declined.

Thus, someone extrapolated the trend linearly, finding that in X number of years, a library shelf of this particular journal would grow at a speed faster than the speed of light.

However, due to the declining quality of the articles, the laws of Special Relativity would not be violated, because the journal's articles would not contain any information.

Obviously, of course, the linear extrapolation is likely to break down in any event - which relates to the topic of the thread in alt.folklore.computers.

But something else spoiled the joke for me to an extent.

Because in one sense, all along, it is a "popular misconception" that nothing can travel faster than light. According to the Special Theory of Relativity, no mbutt, no energy, and no information can travel faster than light.

But there are 'things' that aren't *real physical objects* or otherwise enbreasties that are limited by this.

For example, if I point a flashlight at a distant screen, and quickly sweep it across the screen, the spot of light on the screen could travel faster than light. This is because the spot of light isn't really an object, it is just where successive real objects - the photons from my flashlight - hit the screen.

The spot where two searchlight beams cross.

What's Wrong With This Joke was TandemSpeed Limit 2155
I should have said 'max' in there. Sorry.. Yeah. plantardier tried their hand at selling turbine...

A line of fire - as opposed to the bullets actually being fired.

A shadow.

These things, which can be called pseudo-objects, are not causally linked to each other, but they are related, being caused by a common source.

As it happens, the leading edge of the advancing line of journals on a shelf is also a pseudo-object. The individual issues of Physical Review D would, however poor the quality of their articles, have mbutt and energy - and they would contain information, even if about the random letters pounded by monkeys on typewriters. And so each individual issue would move from the mailroom to the library shelves at a speed slower than that of light.

But millions of librarians in a row stretching for miles, almost in unison, could each put an issue of the journal on the shelf one after the other so that the position of the most recently shelved journal races ahead at faster than the speed of light - without any physical law being violated.

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