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I need your Science answers!

In two parts:

I'm hoping everyone's generally familiar with Einstein's old thought experiment about the train moving as it approaches the speed of light, how it will take on mass to slow it down as it speeds up and whatnot. How this applies to all things as they approach lightspeed. My question is this, what about photons? particles of light, that as such, go lightspeed. If everything else takes on mass just as it approaches the speed of light, what prevents photons from doing the same when they are moving at the speed of light? And if photons can do that, isn't there certainly the possibility that other particles could?
The only thing I can think of to compare this to, is thinking of things in relation to the speed of sound.

Secondly, everyone seems so dead-set on the speed of light being absolutely It! That's there's nothing that moves faster. Which makes sense to me. You need light to observe something. No light, you ain't gonna see it.
If there were particles that move faster than light how would we be able to find them? Is it even possible to know something like that?
The only thing I can come up with is black holes and using the absence of light to be made aware of something.

Looking for your thought, opinions, answers and, in particularly, where I'm "misremembering" the whole lightspeed/mass thing.
This shit has kept me up most of the night and I'm not even high. What a gyp!