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Speed of light 'broken' by scientists


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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8783011/Speed-of-light-broken-by-scientists.html

 

It was Albert Einstein, no less, who proposed more than 100 years ago that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light.

 

But last night it emerged that the man who laid the foundations for the laws of nature may have been wrong.

 

The science world was left in shock when workers at the world’s largest physics lab announced they had recorded subatomic particles travelling faster than the speed of light

 

If the findings are proven to be accurate, they would overturn one of the pillars of the Standard Model of physics, which explains the way the universe and everything within it works.

 

Einstein’s theory of special relativity, proposed in 1905, states that nothing in the universe can travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum. But researchers at the CERN lab near Geneva claim they have recorded neutrinos, a type of tiny particle, travelling faster than the barrier of 186,282 miles (299,792 kilometers) per second.

 

The results have so astounded researchers that American and Japanese scientists have been asked to verify the results before they are confirmed as a discovery.

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http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110922/full/news.2011.554.html

 

An Italian experiment has unveiled evidence that fundamental particles known as neutrinos can travel faster than light. Other researchers are cautious about the result, but if it stands further scrutiny, the finding would overturn the most fundamental rule of modern physics — that nothing travels faster than 299,792,458 metres per second.

 

The experiment is called OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus), and lies 1,400 metres underground in the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy. It is designed to study a beam of neutrinos coming from CERN, Europe's premier high-energy physics laboratory located 730 kilometres away near Geneva, Switzerland. Neutrinos are fundamental particles that are electrically neutral, rarely interact with other matter, and have a vanishingly small mass. But they are all around us — the Sun produces so many neutrinos as a by-product of nuclear reactions that many billions pass through your eye every second.

 

The 1,800-tonne OPERA detector is a complex array of electronics and photographic emulsion plates, but the new result is simple — the neutrinos are arriving 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light allows. "We are shocked," says Antonio Ereditato, a physicist at the University of Bern in Switzerland and OPERA's spokesman.

Breaking the law

 

The idea that nothing can travel faster than light in a vacuum is the cornerstone of Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity, which itself forms the foundation of modern physics. If neutrinos are travelling faster than light speed, then one of the most fundamental assumptions of science — that the rules of physics are the same for all observers — would be invalidated. "If it's true, then it's truly extraordinary," says John Ellis, a theoretical physicist at CERN.

 

Ereditato says that he is confident enough in the new result to make it public. The researchers claim to have measured the 730-kilometre trip between CERN and its detector to within 20 centimetres. They can measure the time of the trip to within 10 nanoseconds, and they have seen the effect in more than 16,000 events measured over the past two years. Given all this, they believe the result has a significance of six-sigma — the physicists' way of saying it is certainly correct. The group will present their results tomorrow at CERN, and a preprint of their results will be posted on the physics website ArXiv.org.

 

At least one other experiment has seen a similar effect before, albeit with a much lower confidence level. In 2007, the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) experiment in Minnesota saw neutrinos from the particle-physics facility Fermilab in Illinois arriving slightly ahead of schedule. At the time, the MINOS team downplayed the result, in part because there was too much uncertainty in the detector's exact position to be sure of its significance, says Jenny Thomas, a spokeswoman for the experiment. Thomas says that MINOS was already planning more accurate follow-up experiments before the latest OPERA result. "I'm hoping that we could get that going and make a measurement in a year or two," she says.

Reasonable doubt

 

If MINOS were to confirm OPERA's find, the consequences would be enormous. "If you give up the speed of light, then the construction of special relativity falls down," says Antonino Zichichi, a theoretical physicist and emeritus professor at the University of Bologna, Italy. Zichichi speculates that the 'superluminal' neutrinos detected by OPERA could be slipping through extra dimensions in space, as predicted by theories such as string theory.

 

 

Ellis, however, remains sceptical. Many experiments have looked for particles travelling faster than light speed in the past and have come up empty-handed, he says. Most troubling for OPERA is a separate analysis of a pulse of neutrinos from a nearby supernova known as 1987a. If the speeds seen by OPERA were achievable by all neutrinos, then the pulse from the supernova would have shown up years earlier than the exploding star's flash of light; instead, they arrived within hours of each other. "It's difficult to reconcile with what OPERA is seeing," Ellis says.

 

Ereditato says that he welcomes scepticism from outsiders, but adds that the researchers have been unable to find any other explanation for their remarkable result. "Whenever you are in these conditions, then you have to go to the community," he says.

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Kessel run in under 12 parsecs is still a go, sweet!

 

Can't believe I got that.  :lol:

 

Getting that means you're awesome!

I'm totally perplexed...and a little angry.
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Guest ObiChrisKenobi

Kessel run in under 12 parsecs is still a go, sweet!

 

Can't believe I got that.  :lol:

 

Getting that means you're awesome!

 

:snod:

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Kessel run in under 12 parsecs is still a go, sweet!

 

Can't believe I got that.  :lol:

 

Getting that means you're awesome!

 

:snod:

 

:snod:

 

If these results are correct and for me it's still a big if, this is truly amazing. I was kind of depressed when I realised we as a species would never exit out own galaxy (100 light years to the edge or some such) meaning no cool star trek / star wars scenarios in the future.

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Guest ObiChrisKenobi

I was having a discussion a while back I was arguing that things are possible, even if current physics suggest they're not, and I used speed of light as an example, and how 100s of years ago people thought the world was Flat and we orbited the Sun. He just wouldn't accept it that just because we accept Einstien's theory now, doesn't mean it won't hold true in 50 years time.

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I was having a discussion a while back I was arguing that things are possible, even if current physics suggest they're not, and I used speed of light as an example, and how 100s of years ago people thought the world was Flat and we orbited the Sun. He just wouldn't accept it that just because we accept Einstien's theory now, doesn't mean it won't hold true in 50 years time.

 

I agree with you to a point but we know a hell of a lot more now than we did then. There may be a point where we reach the limit of our understanding, when I say this I’m thinking of quantum mechanics. Explanations which span more than 3 dimensions start to make my head hurt :lol:

The optimist in me believes that we as a species have the potential to do pretty much anything. The only question is will we manage to crack fusion before we fuck up the world irreversibly, that’ll stop us. Or another world war :lol:

 

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Guest ObiChrisKenobi

I just think there gets a point where we as a group of people just accept what we know and become lazy. Einstein himself wasn't 100% sure on his findings, yet everyone pretty much accepts them as fact because they hold up to what we understand. I'm not saying they're bullshit, I'm just saying no one really goes out of their way to disprove or investigate further.

 

Yet here we are with the possible discovery of something faster than the speed of light. Likewise, we're splitting atoms underground in a man made machine.

 

I'm just generally disappointed that in the last 50 years we've stalled when it comes to discoveries.

 

Thinking about it, it might have been here or another forum when it came to NASA looking for life on other planets, and how they limited their search to carbon based life forms as that's what 'we' know the basis of life to be.

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Discoveries haven’t stalled man! Physics has maybe slowed down a bit, but papers published in a lot of scientific disciplines are growing (exponentially in some cases). Biology is to the 21st century (or at least to the begging of the 21st century) what physics was to the 20th imo.

I’ll give an example; Leukaemia survival in kids has gone from something like 20% in the 70s to over 80% today. This is all down to new techniques being discovered to genetically and functionally characterise these kinds of diseases.

The way I see it is; we’ve built a framework of how the universe works, and so far it’s proven to be a pretty sturdy one.  Using this framework we’ve began to refine the tools available to us to explore other areas of science. 

If these findings with the neutrinos are true then our frame work isn’t quite as stable as we thought it was, so we’ll have to make a new one. I can’t ever imagine our species losing its curiosity, might happen in however many hundreds/thousands of years, bbut I doubt it. The reason we’ve been so successful as a species is due to our curiosity.

 

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Guest ObiChrisKenobi

I'm going to sound like a right arsehole but... those don't excite me.

 

Are all the 'major' discoveries done? Will we ever discover something as ground breaking as the combustion engine or flight? I guess the 'basics' have been discovered for most things now and all we're really doing is refining and improving? I don't know.

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Guest ObiChrisKenobi

Mike hates everyone, man. He hates Tiote and he hates Michael Jordan. I don't think he's the best person on Earth to make friends with Aliens. Michael Jordan on the other hand. He's done it once already and movies don't lie.

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I'm going to sound like a right arsehole but... those don't excite me.

 

Are all the 'major' discoveries done? Will we ever discover something as ground breaking as the combustion engine or flight? I guess the 'basics' have been discovered for most things now and all we're really doing is refining and improving? I don't know.

 

Need another war for a giant leap in tech based knowledge :lol:.

 

The thing is you have to look at peoples motivation to innovate. The air travel folk generally want bigger and safer planes which spend less fuel, not awesome flying machines which can speed about at super sonic speed. Concord was dropped due to price and I think that was the last big leap in air travel.

 

But yeah I know what you mean, that's why something like this is exciting, it could change physics!

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