Talk:Faster-than-light

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Hyphens (and article title in general)[edit]

At this writing, the article is at faster-than-light, which strikes me as an odd title. The thing that caught my eye initially was the hyphens, which would not ordinarily be used for the phrase standing alone. One possibility would be to move it to faster than light.

But it's still a weird title. Most of the time, articles are supposed to be about things, and things are described by nouns. Adjectives are generally bad article titles. See WP:NOUN.

I'm guessing the reason for this is that people couldn't decide whether it was better for the article to be about FTL travel or FTL communication? I agree they're sort of naturally treated in the same article. But can we maybe pick one? I think travel is the one that people more naturally think of. I could maybe get behind a move to faster-than-light travel or superluminal travel, with a section on communication.

But if people think that communication shouldn't be subordinated like that, maybe propose something else? The current title is pretty strange. --Trovatore (talk) 21:05, 4 July 2017 (UTC)

At first sight it looks like a bizarre title. But Faster than light communication and travel would be too much, whereas both Faster than light communication and Faster than light travel would be insufficient. I think the hyphens were put in place to effectively turn the—let's say—adjectivy or adverby "faster than light" into the noun phrase "faster-than-light" with "light" as the head word. So IMO the article title actually conforms to wp:NOUN, and I don't think we should change it. - DVdm (talk) 21:25, 4 July 2017 (UTC)
Wait, what? It's a noun? What's a faster-than-light? How much does one cost? Or are you claiming it's a mass noun? What quantities do you buy faster-than-light in? --Trovatore (talk) 21:30, 4 July 2017 (UTC)
Tricky. Not a noun, but a noun phrase. Something "nouny", based on a noun. Something in front of which you don't put an article "a" or "the". Perhaps the creators of the article should have used scare quotes instead of hyphens. Scare quotes too can turn anything into any-other-thing Face-smile.svg - DVdm (talk) 21:45, 4 July 2017 (UTC)
No, sorry, "faster-than-light" is not a noun phrase, and neither is "faster than light" in scare quotes. A noun phrase is something that can take the place of a noun in a sentence. "Faster-than-light" cannot take the place of a noun in a sentence. --Trovatore (talk) 06:47, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
 
To be more explicit — you linked head (linguistics), which is not a term I use a lot, but according to that article, the head of a phrase is the word that determines the syntactic category of that phrase. In that case, the head of "faster than light" is "faster", not "light". You can see that because "faster than light" functions as an adjective, not a noun. --Trovatore (talk) 06:58, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
Our mileages seem to vary Face-smile.svg. - DVdm (talk) 07:15, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
This isn't a matter of opinion. Neither "faster-than-light" nor "faster than light" is a noun phrase. That's just a fact. --Trovatore (talk) 07:16, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
That's why it actually is a ""noun"-phrase". (Sorry, couldn't resist Face-wink.svg) - DVdm (talk) 08:05, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
OK, the digression above aside, this is still a problematic title, because of WP:NOUN and the hyphens. Any suggestions? --Trovatore (talk) 18:34, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
"Superluminal motion" or "Tachyons" would work, although fewer readers are likely to search for those keywords. I suggest "Faster than light" as the primary title, with redirection from the hyphenated form, and in the text body reserve the hyphens for usage such as "faster-than-light particle" which could easily be misread if the hyphens were changed to spaces ("faster than light particle" seems to be talking about properties of lightweight particles). In contexts such as "the particle moves faster than light" there should be no hyphens. — DAGwyn (talk) 07:06, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
But again, article titles are supposed to be nouns. There are exceptions, but this isn't one of them. "Faster than light" is not a noun, and neither is "faster-than-light", and neither of them is a noun phrase either. This article should be moved to a title that is clearly a noun. --Trovatore (talk) 04:16, 27 February 2018 (UTC)

Who are these people?[edit]

After this edit there has been a minor skirmish, with me agreeing with the IP. I don't know if I have the same rationale as the IP who originally added the single word "cosmologist" - I don't quite understand the edit summary - but I feel the word is an improvement for the general reader.

The last edit as of this writing was by Headbomb (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log), with edit summary " we don't do that for any other person here, e.g. Martin Rees and others".

That's an "other stuff exists" argument (or, "other stuff doesn't exist" :) ). And I think we should do that for other persons. It is good that there's a reference to a paper for this particular claim, but that isn't the first appearance of the person's name.

Remember, Wikipedia is written for the general reader, and the rationale "the reader can always click the link to the person's article" is a weak justification for omitting one lousy word. I don't think it's a reasonable assumption that the general reader should have recently taken a "History of Cosmology and Mathematical Physics" course. Jeh (talk) 14:06, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

I agree with Headbomb's view on this. We generally do that in newspaper articles, but not in an encyclopedia. The general reader is invited to click the wikilink and read all about the linked person. Hovering over the link João Magueijo already immediately shows that he's a cosmologist. And Portuguese. DVdm (talk) 18:57, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
Not on my screen, it doesn't. (Chrome on Windows 10) All I see is the name of the linked article, which does not show either profession or nationality. Jeh (talk) 19:14, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
Firefox, IE, Chrome on Win7, Win8.1 and Win10. See Wikipedia:Tools/Navigation popups. Very nice feature. Check it out Face-smile.svg. - DVdm (talk) 19:26, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
My point stands. The general reader here can't be assumed to know about that, let alone set it. Heck, there are far more unregistered readers than people with accounts - can you even set that option if you're unregistered? Jeh (talk) 19:33, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
My spoint is that the general reader can click the blue link and find out. After all, that's how an encyclopedia is supposed to work, encouraging the reader to wander around Face-smile.svg. - DVdm (talk) 19:40, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
Also, it is in general very poor form to add profession every time someone is mentioned. I'd go even further, removed the person unless that person's involvement has a direction connection to the topic. The Hartman effect is named after Hartman, you can mention Hartman. Magueijo did not discover/prove that the speed of light cannot be measured in the modern SI system. It is not important to know that he, as opposed to any of thousands of physicists, has put 'emphasis' on the speed of light being 'unmeasurable'. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 19:42, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
Off-topic and very late remark here. To say "the speed of light cannot be measured in the modern SI system" is to be hugely over-impressed with SI. The speed of light is a real thing; SI is an arbitrary human convention. --Trovatore (talk) 17:18, 1 July 2020 (UTC)

Here, not perfect, but better. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 20:09, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

Definite improvement. - DVdm (talk) 21:58, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
I don't believe that I ever said "every time". But, for example, we expand acronyms and other abbreviations the first time they're mentioned. I don't see why a similar principle doesn't apply here. Jeh (talk) 23:26, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

cannot be measured[edit]

I think the recent argument about whether to call Magueijo a "cosmologist" misses a bigger issue, which is that the underlying claim is confusing and not clearly true. Here is the text as it stands:

The speed of light is a dimensional quantity and so cannot be measured.

First, who says you can't measure a "dimensional" quantity? I put my cat on the scale and measure her weight; that's a dimensional quantity, in the sense that it is not dimensionless, and I measure it.
More fundamentally, who says you can't measure the speed of light? There's a whole history of measurements of the speed of light. To be sure, by the current definition of SI, the speed of light is a defined exact value rather than a measured one, but arguably that tells you more about SI than it does about the measurability of the speed of light. Or you could say that it's a definition of the meter by the back door (since the second is defined in terms of a transition in the cesium atom).
I think there's a valid point being made in the text, but it is not expressed clearly, and in particular the use of the word "dimensional" is problematic. It needs rewriting and elaboration. --Trovatore (talk) 19:50, 14 December 2018 (UTC)

What it comes down do is that if you take a meter stick, and use that to measure the speed of light, and you get a different number than 299,792,458 m/s, it means that your meter stick is off, not that the speed of light isn't 299,792,458 m/s. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 20:03, 14 December 2018 (UTC)
Yes, but that's a fact about the definition of the meter, not a fact about the speed of light. --Trovatore (talk) 20:29, 14 December 2018 (UTC)

Rename it as superluminosity, it sounds better[edit]

Roger Penrose uses general relativity which is superluminally wrong for predictions about action (action as defined in physics; see: Lagrangian, Hamiltonian, etc).

Relativistically, afar regions CAN recede superluminally.

In small regions no object can move superluminally. All of it's particles decay into others, and only energy BUT NO INFORMATION can travel/be emitted faster than light. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:587:4106:CEAB:CCF2:2E68:D845:51D2 (talk) 17:55, 23 May 2020 (UTC)

Responding to the heading, not to the text. I think a rename to superluminality might possibly be a good idea. (Wiktionary has both superluminality and superluminosity, but the former sounds much more natural to me, as we're talking about things that are superluminal, not superluminous.)
The main reason I think it might be a good idea is that it's a noun, which article titles are generally supposed to be, and it comprises both communication and travel. I recorded my thoughts on this a couple years ago, at #Hyphens (and article title in general) above (presumably this will eventually get archived, but the link should work for now).
On the other hand it's definitely not the "common name". I could possibly live with faster-than-light travel and communication. I've been reluctant to accept "and" titles, but sometimes they do seem to be the least bad solution. --Trovatore (talk) 19:15, 23 May 2020 (UTC)