All over for Albert?

Puzzling results from Cern, home of the LHC, have confounded physicists – because it appears subatomic particles have exceeded the speed of light.

Neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second early.

The result – which threatens to upend a century of physics – will be put online for scrutiny by other scientists.

In the meantime, the group says it is being very cautious about its claims.

The speed of light is the Universe’s ultimate speed limit, and much of modern physics – as laid out in part by Albert Einstein in his special theory of relativity – depends on the idea that nothing can exceed it.

Albert Einstein in Pittsburgh on 28 December 1934
Much of modern physics depends on the idea that nothing can exceed the speed of light

Thousands of experiments have been undertaken to measure it ever more precisely, and no result has ever spotted a particle breaking the limit.

In the course of doing the experiments, the researchers noticed that the particles showed up a few billionths of a second sooner than light would over the same distance.

The team measured the travel times of neutrino bunches some 15,000 times, and have reached a level of statistical significance that in scientific circles would count as a formal discovery.

Mmm…so light speed may not be the ultimate speed limit…

This is a bit of a ground breaking discovery-if it’s right… most of Albert’s work is based on the assumption that light is the fastest speed that can be achieved in normal space…

All very interesting…

I don’t know a great deal about the maths behind the great man’s work, but… I am familiar with Ockham’s razor… (the principle that generally recommends, when faced with competing hypotheses that are equal in other respects, selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions).

On the one side a measurement that may or may not be wrong; a brilliant and defining work that has stood for the last century or even a new phenomenon.

I suppose the money should be put firmly on the great man.

Still, it will be interesting if it turns out to be true…


9 responses to “All over for Albert?

  1. There was a young fellow called Bright
    Who traveled much faster than light.
    He set off one day – in a relative way-
    And arrived on the previous night

  2. Actually while it suprises me that this particular law may be wrong; overall it doesn’t surprise me that some of the things we regard as immutable facts are being disproven. Go back a few hundred years it was a ‘fact’ that the earth was flat and the sun orbited the earth.
    I’m sure in a few hundred years people will be looking back and laughing at us as simple heathens who believed in this particular law, much in the same way that we chortle at people thinking the earth is flat.

  3. You didn’t need the billions of pounds spent on a Hadron Collider to determine there is a speed faster than that of light, Just stand in a Job centre in Liverpool when someone is offered a job!

  4. It was a Virgin Trains neutrino. It was running 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59.999999999999999999999999999999 seconds late, so when it arrived the day after it departed they said it was early.

    • Not a chance… A Virgin trains N wouldn’t run at all…

      • Brief Encounter

        Scientists state laws as they see them at the time. Then knowledge is advanced and those laws change. Thing is though what did Albert mean by the word light? He may not have meant what we think, he may have meant that the fastest moving entity was light. In his era that was what we mean i.e. sunlight etc. And so you see members of the jury……..

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