One of the absolute constants in our world is the speed of light. We know it can be slowed down in a container of water. Regardless, we’re used to seeing it as an absolute constant. However, that is about to change after a team of scientists made a groundbreaking discovery, which could shatter the well-established laws of physics.
A team of Scottish scientists from the Heriot-Walt University and the University of Glasgow performed an experiment with two photons, firing them side by side in a special vacuum. The tiny photons were supposed to travel at the speed of light – 299,792,458 mph. However, one of the photons travelled slower than the other. It was slowed because it went through a device which reshaped the photon’s structure. If the vacuum had been filled with water, both of the particles would have slowed down. But since previous experiments show that light regains its original speed once it’s left the water environment, the scientists expected that the tiny photon would do the same. However, it passed through the vacuum slower than the other one.
This experiment shows that the constant speed of light isn’t constant at all. In fact, the number 299,792,458 should be reviewed only as an upper limit – a maximum of speed, not a constant.