Home > Uncategorized > Sub-atomic particles possibly break the speed of light – Einstein’s Relativity may be broken.

Sub-atomic particles possibly break the speed of light – Einstein’s Relativity may be broken.

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Did any of you here about the particles at Cern last week?

Cern, the largest physics lab in the world, has been troubled lately by disturbing data from its Neutrino detectors. They have routinely found the particles going slightly and unexpectedly over the speed of light.

Neutrinos are sub-atomic particles much smaller than the protons, neutrons and electrons that we learned about in our high school science classes. Cern routinely detects them in a lab in Italy after they smash together particles at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in Switzerland. This is possible because neutrinos are incredibly small neutral particles that pass through matter almost unnoticeably. This also means that amount of neutrinos that are actually detected in Italy is much smaller than the amount that passes through the detectors.

As far as I can remember, according to Einstein’s Relativity, nothing breaks the speed of light; only light even goes the speed of light. At a speed that high, it’s not like pressing down the accelerator in your car to go faster: the energy it takes you to go from 10 to 20 m/s is much, much smaller than the energy it takes to go from 200,000,010 to 200,000,020 m/s. It takes an inconceivable amount of energy to actually get to the speed of light, not to mention break it.

But if these particles did break the speed limit, they could cause dilemmas for scientists. Since these preliminary findings suggest a significant problem with Einstein’s relativity – the backbone of modern physics – they could mean that another physics revolution is expected. But to put this back into context, this revolution may have nothing to do with or ever affect our lives in any way, so it probably won’t be as big or as influential as Einstein’s revolution over Newton’s laws, but the possibilities are still very interesting. One of which is that anything going faster than the speed of light can supposedly break through the space-time structure of our universe and possibly time-travel backwards.

Unfortunately, this is highly unlikely. These results seem impossible and that’s why Cern has released the results to the public so someone can find the error in their calculations. Still, if the largest physics lab in the world can’t find an error in the data, does it make it less likely that there is one?

I only found out about this Friday night during a completely unrelated conversation. I took a class on Modern Physics (relativity, subatomic particles, etc.) in high school so this interested me a lot. But I know most of the class isn’t in love/like with science, so I was wondering what the rest of you thought of this?

And a quote from Futurama a friend recently reminded me of:

Professor Hubert Farnsworth: These are the dark matter engines I invented. They allow my starship to travel between galaxies in mere hours.
Cubert J. Farnsworth: That’s impossible. You can’t go faster than the speed of light.
Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Of course not. That’s why scientists increased the speed of light in 2208.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    What I think is interesting about your (rs713) post is that fact you mention how even if there is a physics revolution with these new findings it will not be as momentous or influential as Newton’s origin theories. If Cern has truly found something that can travel faster than the speed of light, it will be crazy and a revolution in science will certainly follow, but it’s not going to affect how people live their everyday life. There are many people in the world who do not watch the news or keep up with current happenings, therefore they may never even find out that the speed of light is in question. I asked my three roommates if they had heard about this recent discovery and they had not; neither had I for that matter. It seems like this is one case where the science world and the rest of the world may not coincide. Yes, there will be media on the discovery but it will not be like the first time a man stepped on the moon. That is just my opinion, but it seems that this will be a real shocker for the science world, yet may be overlooked but public.

  2. October 3, 2011 at 2:44 am

    I think this article poses an interesting situation. I remember reading an article about this in the Wall Street Journal not too long ago. It seems to me that within science, as it seems to be everywhere, there are the conservatives and the liberals. By conservative and liberal here I mean those who hold tightly to the laws and theories already established and those who explore new or contradictory theories, respectively.

    I am by no means an expert physicist, in fact, I didn’t much like physics in high school. I do have friends who were fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation and this article springs to mind a quote from the introduction to each episode, “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” .

    I personally don’t see what the problem is if there are subatomic particles that can travel faster than the speed of light! So what if it proves Einstein’s theory pf relativity incorrect! Isn’t that what science is about? Experimenting to figure how how things work in the world around us? The scientific community may well find errors in CERNs calculations, but if not, it could just mean that we, as a species, have crossed the threshold into a much more complex universe than we ever thought possible! Pushing the boundaries on what we know is part of what we are as humans, we shouldn’t dismiss a potential scientific discovery just because it doesn’t fit with what we know. We can be skeptical, yes, but not dismissive!

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