After passing every test since its appearance in 1905, the Special Theory of Relativity is finally tottering. Professor Ovis Jopp, the lean, seven-foot-two, green bearded ‘Sage of Trondheim’ announced yesterday that he has propelled a material object to beyond the speed of light.
In the green room of his fjordside home, the jubilant professor explained all. “It was a fairly simple experiment,” he said. “I merely went out into the grounds of my house, taking an ordinary torch with a green bulb, the latter borrowed from my daughter’s playroom. I attached to the glass a film of joppium, a sub-hydrogenic element which I made and which is, I believe, the only humanly-contrived artifact of zero mass in existence. Under the film was an infra-microscopic motor, also made of joppium. I switched on the torch and, by delayed action, the motor. I saw clearly that the film was projected beyond the torch beam, indicating a velocity greater than that of light. I timed the experiment with my own watch, which has never lost more than five minutes a day. I entered a neighbour’s garden and recovered the film, which was singed at the edges – a minor hitch that I can overcome by employing an ablation shield, made of a joppium isotope. This is my greatest feat so far.”
If Jopp’s findings are confirmed, this will be an astounding breakthrough, causing us to wonder once again why there has not yet been a special award for this superman of science. Rumour has it that he recently rejected, for the seventh time, nomination for the Nobel Prize in his field. Sources close to Jopp suggest that he considers such an accolade inadequate for a man of his accomplishments, and that he is disposed to wait until someone devises an honour commensurate with his status.
As so often in such matters, there are sceptics. Professor Jopp’s would-be nemesis, the five-foot-four tall, five-foot-four round, hairless ‘Swedish Savant’, Dr Terps Dunderklap, is foremost among them. Interviewed near the nurses’ quarters of a Kalmar hospital, he was convulsed with laughter. “Not for the first time, Jopp is hoist with his own petard,” he guffawed. “If he would rid himself of his mania for greenery, he might make a passable junior laboratory assistant. By the way, his timekeeping was hopelessly inadequate. I would have been happy to lend him my watch, which would have sufficed, as it is reliable to within ten minutes a week.”
The doctor was asked to elaborate. “Gladly,” he said. “Jopp’s main mistake was an elementary one. He used green light and as I have established, the photons concerned are heavier than those of white light and therefore travel slower. Consequently, even with the extra impetus of the joppium motor, the existence of which I doubt anyway, Jopp’s film could not have broken the light barrier. But for the fact that he does not have the necessary intelligence, I would consider the man a charlatan.”
Dunderklap continued: “It is possible for a material object to exceed light-speed. I proved this last year, but did not publish my findings, as I considered them unimportant. My experiment was similar to Jopp’s, except that I used, correctly, white light. I capped my torch with a sheet of dunderium, an element of nil mass, which I invented, incidentally beating Jopp in that respect, too. I used a zero-impulse motor with the same properties as the sheet and achieved superluminary speed. You may inform old Grassface that he need not nose around for details, as there is only one dunderium assembly, and wild horses would not induce me to tell him that it is in a safe-deposit box in the bank next door to my home.”
This wrangle will surely continue.
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