Breakthrough: Neutrinos faster than light?

Nieuws | de redactie
23 september 2011 | Can things travel faster than light? Albert Einstein theorized no while data now published by CERN scientists indicates yes. Scientists scramble to explain or contradict these findings while the American Fermilab is set to repeat the experiment.

If the finding of researchers at CERN prove to be accurate, afundamental theory of physics has just been nullified. During theOPERA experiment, CERN scientists sent aneutrino beam from Geneva to the Italian Gran Sasso laboratory.According to data collected the particles travelled the 732kmwithin 2,4 milliseconds – faster than the speed of light.

According to data gained during the experiment, the neutrinoparticles needed 60 nanoseconds less than the speed of light totravel the distance. The measurement error was merely 10nanoseconds.

Decades ago Albert Einstein put forward in his specialrelativity theory (part of which is the famous equation E = mc²)that nothing can travel faster than approximately 300.000 km persecond which is the speed of light. Due to the major consequencesthis discovery would have for our understanding of physics, manyscientists remain skeptical.

U.S. lab to repeat the experiment

“This result comes as a complete surprise,” said OPERAspokesperson, Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern. “Aftermany months of studies and cross checks we have not found anyinstrumental effect that could explain the result of themeasurement. While OPERA researchers will continue their studies,we are also looking forward to independent measurements to fullyassess the nature of this observation.”

This means that now it is up to CERN’s competing particleaccelerator, Fermilab (U.S.), to repeat the experiment. A theorythat was put forward is that the neutrinos might have taken a’shortcut’ by travelling through different dimensions. Some evenvoiced the idea that if things could really be accelerated to befaster than light, time travelling would theoretically be possibleas well.

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