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Faster Than the Speed of Light?

The only thing that I ever thought traveled faster than the speed of light was Superman. Apparently, I was wrong.  Or not.

Last week CERN, a European group that conducts nuclear research, claimed that they flung particles through their underground test facility at speeds twenty parts per million faster than light. If these neutrino particles really did travel at these speeds, it would be a breakthrough. The speed of light was supposed to be the fastest in the universe. I’m sure many of us learned in high school that nothing travels faster than the speed of light. The particles would overturn the laws of physics, including the prolific e=mc^2.

Not so fast.  Naysayers popped up almost as quickly, proclaiming that the 60 nanosecond difference that it took a beam of light and the neutrinos was attributed to bad timing. As one of the skeptics said, “This is quite a shake up…the correct attitude is to ask oneself what went wrong.” Now that both sides have stated their views, CERN and other laboratories will run further research on the neutrinos.

I think that these articles (and yes, I’ll find a way to hyperlink all of the ones I read) touch upon a point that we’ve been mulling over in class- what science do we believe? Is one side more credible than the other? As one of the articles mentioned, the speed of light has been a cornerstone of physics for more than a century, but does that mean that it’s an ironclad theory? Or could this new theory be the one that has been true all along?

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