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November 18, 2011

Test confirms particles appear to travel faster than the speed of light

Back in September, scientists found that tiny particles called neutrinos appeared to travel faster than the speed of light. Scientists were skeptical about the finding, and the experiment was tested a second time at OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus), where they found the same result. Again, scientists were skeptical, so the physicists at OPERA rechecked parts of the experiment, taking in account suggestions from critics, yet found the same result.

Are these neutrinos really going faster than the speed of light? This would significantly change how we look at space and time. However, other labs and scientists in Illinois and Japan are trying to replicate the experiment to further prove the results.

Full Article at CNN.com

Posted by lwasher at November 18, 2011 08:01 PM


I am also in Astro 104 and my professor spent a couple classes on this topic. He stated how important it would be if it were true, yet highly doubted that this was real and that there wasn't any error in the experiment. I find it extremely interesting that this is effecting the scientific community so much. We normally read about the great experiments and shifts in astronomy history, but really this could be happening while we study which i find very cool

Posted by: zachrk at November 20, 2011 10:44 PM

Einstein's upper limit on velocity was the basis for many of his theories, including his famed Theory of Special Relativity which he used as a premise to predict the equivalence of matter and energy (E = mc^2). I just find it hard to believe that the guy who came up with the unified theory of physics, and predicted that there would be two revolving neutrino stars that exist in Alpha Centori which hadnt been discovered yet and he gave there planetary orbits around each other to a TRILLIONTH percent accuracy, could have had such a flaw in his premise. Like zachrk, I am very excited to see the results of this experiment and how it could fundamentally alter physics.

Posted by: kurtlpet at November 21, 2011 01:22 AM

When I heard about this discovery I was so excited! There is a lot of skepticism however, and as interesting as this could be if it were true, I think there is definitely an error in the data somewhere.

In an article I was reading they raised some interesting points. For one, in their report, the scientists said they used a GPS to measure distance. Although their GPS system is probably much more advanced than the ones we use, there is a chance that is could be off. Especially since the timing we are talking about is 60 ns or 0.0000006 seconds. Also, the article noted that, "If neutrinos travel faster than light, then we should’ve detected the neutrinos from Supernova 1987A before we saw the explosion itself" (Discover).
Much of the discussion going on in the science world is speculation in regards to what could have gone wrong or what we aren't noticing. So unfortunately until we have more information all we can do is wait.

Posted by: fadmonic at November 30, 2011 11:37 AM

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