I often show off by asking people how fast electrons flow through wires. Then I tell them it's actually only a few millimeters per second. To clear the disbelief off their faces and boost my ego, I make the analogy as follows:
If I have a 10 meter long stick, and I poke them with it, the effect is nearly instantaneous, I can poke them well under one second, yet the stick is moving far less than 10 meters per second.
Now what I want to know, is if I had an extremely long stick, made of something lighter and stiffer than say carbon nanotubes, whacked one end with a hammer, would it be possible for the effect to be detected at the other end faster than light could get from the hammer side to the other?
I'm guessing it wouldn't, and I'm guessing I won't be able to understand the answer, but I'll ask anyway! Perhaps someone can give a simple and also a suitably comprehensive explanation?