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Thread: Scientists Clock Particles Travelling Faster Than the Speed of Light

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    Scientists Clock Particles Travelling Faster Than the Speed of Light

    Scientists clock particles travelling faster than the speed of light

    It is one of the most fundamental pillars of physics – but Einstein's theory of relativity could have some (subatomic) holes in it. If the results hold true, it would be the biggest upset in physics in decades.

    Scientists at the world's largest physics laboratory say they have recorded subatomic particles, known as neutrinos, travelling faster than the speed of light.

    According to Albert Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity – known by the equation E=mc2 – that feat is impossible.

    If the findings are correct, it would force a major rethink of the fundamental laws of nature, including how the universe works.

    James Gillies, a spokesman for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, or CERN, said the readings have so astounded researchers that they are asking others to verify them before claiming a discovery.

    'The feeling that most people have is this can't be right, this can't be real,' he said. '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.'

    Einstein's theory states that energy is equal to mass multiplied by the speed of light squared, so firing an object faster than that would require an infinite amount of energy.

    After the findings, 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.'

    The Chicago team had similar faster-than-light results in 2007, but those came with a giant margin of error that undercut its scientific significance.

    Outside scientists expressed scepticism at CERN's claim that the neutrinos - one of the strangest well-known particles in physics - were observed smashing past the cosmic speed barrier of 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second).

    University of Maryland physics department chairman Drew Baden called it 'a flying carpet,' something that was too fantastic to be believable.

    CERN says a neutrino beam fired from a particle accelerator near Geneva to a lab 454 miles (730 kilometers) away in Italy travelled 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light.

    Scientists calculated the margin of error at just 10 nanoseconds, making the difference statistically significant. But given the enormous implications of the find, they still spent months checking and rechecking their results to make sure there was no flaws in the experiment.

    'We have not found any instrumental effect that could explain the result of the measurement,' said Antonio Ereditato, a physicist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, who was involved in the experiment known as OPERA.

    The CERN researchers are now looking to the United States and Japan to confirm the results.

    A similar neutrino experiment at Fermilab near Chicago would be capable of running the tests, said Stavros Katsanevas, the deputy director of France's National Institute for Nuclear and Particle Physics Research.

    The institute collaborated with Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory for the experiment at CERN.

    Katsanevas said help could also come from the T2K experiment in Japan, though that is currently on hold after the country's devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

    Scientists agree if the results are confirmed, that it would force a fundamental rethink of the laws of nature.

    Einstein's special relativity theory that says energy equals mass times the speed of light squared underlies 'pretty much everything in modern physics,' said John Ellis, a theoretical physicist at CERN who was not involved in the experiment. 'It has worked perfectly up until now.'

    He cautioned that the neutrino researchers would have to explain why similar results weren't detected before, such as when an exploding star - or supernova - was observed in 1987.

    'This would be such a sensational discovery if it were true that one has to treat it extremely carefully,' said Ellis.

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    My first response when reading this that they have discovered the first evidence for the existence of Tachyon particles. So I wonder what all the buss is about.
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    Bwahahaha, i just wanted to start the exact same thread ! If this turns out to be correct (and they made over 15.000 meassurements before they went public) its one of the biggest surpises in physics in the last 30 years if not longer and will have allmost revolutionary influence on nearly all fields in physics that deal with the very big things and the very small things. Just imagine that we suddenly might have a way to look into a black hole with the help of such neutrinos, to see how big an influence that could have. Maqny before thought impossible things are suddenly possible.
    Another important impact it could have is on the great unification theory, in which we try to unify all 4 natural forces (gravity, electromagnetism, weak force and strong force). Over half of our theoretical physicsts are currently working on that (at some points it was even up to 85%) and they are working on that from different angles (most of them work on string theory, others on twister theory, causal dynamic triangulation and other efforts) for over a generation allready. But it seems they are stuck and many where desperatly waiting for new input from CERN especially the LHC. Now they got their new input, and what a big surprise they got ! That discovery alone justifies the cost oif the LHC fully !!!!! If you would have claimed 10 years ago that CERN will discover particles faster then C you would have been laughed at by most theoretical and practical physicists !
    Now what is so important about that unification ? Well most of physics is based on 2 groundbreaking theories : relativity and quantum mechanics . The first discribes the very big things and deals with gravity the other deals with very small things and deals with the other 3 forces. Gravity is at atomic size so small it can be safely ignored for most cases. Since i find it impossible to really imagine really big numbers let me show you with an example how weak gravity really is :

    hold a magnet over an iron needle. Not even a very strong magnet will still lift the needle without trouble right ? Well on one side you have your tiny weak magnet pulling, and on the other side you have the whoole plant earth with all its gravity pulling. Now you can really imagine how weak gravity actually is. The only reason we even realize it is the fact that it works all in the same direction, and not like with magnets everymagnet in the direction it is oriented.
    But if gravity can be safely ignored why unify the forces ? Because there are situations where a lot of mass is concentrated min a tiny spot and then gravity is strong enough to suddenly play a role. One example would be a neutron star :

    In a nutshell a neutron star can have for example the mass of our sun but compressed to a ball of say 20 km diameter. A pinhead big piece would allready weigh many tons.
    Another candidate is a black hole :

    I guess now you are asking yourself why this is so important that so many people work their whole carrier on that, right ? Well, at the beginning of the universe our universe seems to have been such a black hole. So if we want to answer one of the biggest questions in our history :"how did everything begin?" we have to understand black holes, we have to unify relativity with quantum mechanics. So far every attempt to do so ended in frustration, and we are so stuck atm that many scientists have started to look for other things to research. If the answer wouldnt be this important we would have given up great unification long time ago and waited for some new input from practical physics. But whoever answers that question will have forever a place in our history books !
    Now I have strayed quite a bit OT, but i found it important to point out why this discovery is so important. To me the great unification is one of the most important endavours in all of science right now.
    Here another article on it :

    For those who love to know the details here is the original paper signed by roundabout 175 scientists ! (i dont think i have ever seen a paper that is signed by this many scientists, that alone shows the significance of this discovery :

    If you are interested but have trouble understanding the paper, i am happy to help you as far as i can. Just PM me. I never came above bacherlor level though, so i cant explain everything, but most of it.

    But if its really the long awaited solution to grand unification we will see. One thing is for sure, it will change the 2 relativity theories : special relativity and generall relativity. I have big suspicions that our problems came from the fact that relativity was close but not the real deal. This would revolutionize relativity BIGTIME ! It would also be pretty ironic, since most physicists thought that quantum mechanics wasnt the real deal, especially einstein ^^
    How exactly it would change relativity is way too early to tell, but i smell at least one noble prize for the lucky physicist who figures it out first, or perhaps it will be enough for severall if it allows for severall big new discoveries. I cant wait till the peer review confirms those results ^^ Severall people will owe me cases of beer and other goodies. We betted on if CERN will be good for really big surprises within 5 years after LHC gets really started. I WON !

    For those of you who think that might have anything to do with tachyons, nope it hasnt. Tachyons have severalll distinct features like being massless and ALLWAYS above c plus a few ones that are too difficult to explain in a hurry. All those features speak against those neutrinos being the predicted tachyons.
    There won't be humans in 500 years. Enough people choke themselves when they jerk off we gave it a name. We ain't a species made to last.

    Judging by it´s name common sense must once have been a pretty common thing. When and why did that change, so it became the rare treasure it is today???

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