Particle might have traveled faster than speed of light

A pillar of physics — that nothing can go faster than the speed of light — appears to be smashed by an oddball subatomic particle that has apparently made a giant end run around Albert Einstein’s theories. Scientists at the world’s largest physics lab said Thursday they have clocked neutrinos travelling faster than light. That’s something that according to Einstein’s 1905 special theory of relativity — the famous E (equals) mc2 equation — just doesn’t happen.

“The feeling that most people have is this can’t be right, this can’t be real,” said James Gillies, a spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The organization, known as CERN, hosted part of the experiment, which is unrelated to the massive $10 billion Large Hadron Collider also located at the site. Gillies told The Associated Press that the readings have so astounded researchers that they are asking others to independently verify the measurements before claiming an actual discovery.

“They are inviting the broader physics community to look at what they’ve done and really scrutinize it in great detail, and ideally for someone elsewhere in the world to repeat the measurements,” he said Thursday. Scientists at the competing Fermilab in Chicago have promised to start such work immediately. “It’s a shock,” said Fermilab head theoretician Stephen Parke, who was not part of the research in Geneva. “It’s going to cause us problems, no doubt about that — if it’s true.”

Update – The measurement amounts to the neutrinos travelling faster than the speed of light by a fraction of 20 parts per million. Since the speed of light is 299,792,458 metres per second, the neutrinos were evidently travelling at 299,798,454 metres per second.

via Particle might have traveled faster than speed of light 

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6 Responses to Particle might have traveled faster than speed of light

  1. Steve B says:

    I would offer a word of caution here. The scientists in question have asked for further verification on their results. There is a chance that it could be down to experimental error. However, I still await any further announcements with considerable interest.

  2. Deskarati says:

    It baffles the brain that these particles were measured after travelling through the earth for 450 miles and they can still beat a photon in a vacuum. Not even Usain Bolt can do that!

  3. Deskarati says:

    By my calculation, if this is correct, neutrinos travel at 13,412 miles per hour faster than light. Perhaps someone ought to check that.

  4. Phil Krause says:

    The speed of light varies, it’s not constant according through which medium it travels through.  The standard light speed is when it travels through a vacuum but light actually slows down through a more dense material.  Some other particles travel faster through more dense mediums than a vacuum.  Not sure what these neutrinos were being measured through or even if this applies to them.  Either way, the guys at CERN know what they are doing so the result of this should be interesting either way.  I hear that neutrinos travel even faster in The Canary Islands so they might even get back before they leave.

  5. Steve B says:

    I agree with what you say Phil, but c, being the speed of light in a vacuum has a finite limit. It would appear that the neutrinos travel faster than the CERN scientists expected, and that is where the questions arise. The CERN scientists do not what they are doing, but I take my hat off to them for asking the scientific community to validate their methods and therefore results. It is this sort of collaborative approach to science that means advances can be made.

  6. alfy says:

    Oh dear, oh dear. Yet another one of Phil’s heroes is about to take a slamming! The assumption that the speed of light is constant was never a fact, it was an assumption or a proposition. As you know, there is a school of thought in physics, albeit a minority one, that all motion is illusory, it is merely a product of human consciousness. As all phenomena are moderated through human beings there is no way of disproving this contention.

    The absence of motion enabled the minority physicist group to reconcile the physics of the sub-atomic world to that of stellar and galactic astronomy. I don’t know, myself, as I am just a simple country boy.

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