Sub-atomic particles (possibly) break the speed of light

Discussion in 'Opinions, Beliefs, & Points of View' started by Mordeci, Sep 23, 2011.

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  1. Mordeci

    Mordeci Banned Member

    (Reuters) - An international team of scientists said on Thursday they had recorded sub-atomic particles traveling faster than light -- a finding that could overturn one of Einstein's long-accepted fundamental laws of the universe.

    Antonio Ereditato, spokesman for the researchers, told Reuters that measurements taken over three years showed neutrinos pumped from CERN near Geneva to Gran Sasso in Italy had arrived 60 nanoseconds quicker than light would have done.

    "We have high confidence in our results. We have checked and rechecked for anything that could have distorted our measurements but we found nothing," he said. "We now want colleagues to check them independently."

    If confirmed, the discovery would undermine Albert Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity, which says that the speed of light is a "cosmic constant" and that nothing in the universe can travel faster.

    That assertion, which has withstood over a century of testing, is one of the key elements of the so-called Standard Model of physics, which attempts to describe the way the universe and everything in it works.

    The totally unexpected finding emerged from research by a physicists working on an experiment dubbed OPERA run jointly by the CERN particle research center near Geneva and the Gran Sasso Laboratory in central Italy.

    A total of 15,000 beams of neutrinos -- tiny particles that pervade the cosmos -- were fired over a period of 3 years from CERN toward Gran Sasso 730 (500 miles) km away, where they were picked up by giant detectors.

    Light would have covered the distance in around 2.4 thousandths of a second, but the neutrinos took 60 nanoseconds -- or 60 billionths of a second -- less than light beams would have taken.

    "It is a tiny difference," said Ereditato, who also works at Berne University in Switzerland, "but conceptually it is incredibly important. The finding is so startling that, for the moment, everybody should be very prudent."

    Ereditato declined to speculate on what it might mean if other physicists, who will be officially informed of the discovery at a meeting in CERN on Friday, found that OPERA's measurements were correct.

    "I just don't want to think of the implications," he told Reuters. "We are scientists and work with what we know."

    Much science-fiction literature is based on the idea that, if the light-speed barrier can be overcome, time travel might theoretically become possible.

    The existence of the neutrino, an elementary sub-atomic particle with a tiny amount of mass created in radioactive decay or in nuclear reactions such as those in the Sun, was first confirmed in 1934, but it still mystifies researchers.

    It can pass through most matter undetected, even over long distances, and without being affected. Millions pass through the human body every day, scientists say.

    To reach Gran Sasso, the neutrinos pushed out from a special installation at CERN -- also home to the Large Hadron Collider probing the origins of the universe -- have to pass through water, air and rock.

    The underground Italian laboratory, some 120 km (75 miles) to the south of Rome, is the largest of its type in the world for particle physics and cosmic research.

    Around 750 scientists from 22 different countries work there, attracted by the possibility of staging experiments in its three massive halls, protected from cosmic rays by some 1,400 metres (4,200 feet) of rock overhead.
  2. Sadeyes

    Sadeyes Staff Alumni

    Saw this on the Discovery Channel...and wow...think of the scientific implications
  3. johnnysays

    johnnysays Well-Known Member

    This is a big subject right now and very interesting.

    What I don't understand is why has everything else met their expectations (for the past century at least) but these muon neutrinos have not. Therefore, the speed of light MEANS SOMETHING. We have too many measurements. We cannot discard them just because of a muon neutrino. Perhaps light speed is not constant throughout the universe or at all scales. Or maybe these neutrinos are 'jumping' across space/time to exceed C. Literally, they're somehow skipping across space/time, rather than moving directly through it?

    What I've heard is that as mass approaches the speed of light it acquires infinite energy. So there's no way to exceed it. So from this I think that the muon neutrino is somehow skipping the rules by 'jumping'. Maybe only muon neutrinos can do this.

    According to theory, INFORMATION cannot exceed the speed of light, but various other things can and do.

    There's still the possibility they're wrong about it. We have to wait and see.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2011
  4. Zurkhardo

    Zurkhardo Well-Known Member

    I dwelled a lot about this on my blog. I'm quite excited but I'm reserving judgment pending more tests and confirmations. If this experiment can be replicated, then we're on to some vast changes as to how we view the universe (including implications for time travel, as Einstein himself noted were matter ever to exceed light speed). But that will take time and meticulousness.
  5. xan

    xan Chat Buddy

  6. Lost

    Lost Staff Alumni

    99% of what I have read about it, disbelieves it and thinks it must be a mistake. I sure hope this is not the case. Imagine what lies ahead for us if this is true. :blink:
  7. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    I hate to say I told you so five years ago.
  8. Terry

    Terry Antiquities Friend Staff Alumni

    ok what I know about quantum physics could fit on the head of a pin :lol!:
    but have been following this with interest.
    Something one of the scientists said stuck in my head, (yes this empty vessel on top of my neck) and that was that neutrinos do not have any mass.
    So here comes the idiot question "would this affect the speed"?
    Given that mass is included in Einstein's formula. :hiding:
  9. In a Lonely Place

    In a Lonely Place Well-Known Member

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010, 3:04 PM
    Stephen M. Barr
    The Los Angeles Times reports that an experiment in Europe has confirmed that neutrinos have mass. The article suggests that this shows that massive neutrinos may account for a “large proportions” of mass in the universe. As with most science related articles in the mass media, this one involves a bit of hype. First, this experiment is simply a confirmation—albeit an important and very dramatic one—of a conclusion that was already practically certain from other indirect pieces of evidence. Second, the neutrino mass that has been confirmed is too small for neutrinos to be a particularly significant fraction of the mass in the universe. (This was also already known, since the neutrino mass in question was already known by the indirect methods.)
  10. Terry

    Terry Antiquities Friend Staff Alumni

    Thanks :smile:

    And I wish they'd make their bloody minds up :laugh:
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