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