Potential Faster-Than -Light Particle Found!


#1

Normally I reserve news like this for the Science Thread, but this is too good to keep isolated.

[Quote=Article]

Faster than light particles found, claim scientists

Particle physicists detect neutrinos travelling faster than light, a feat forbidden by Einstein’s theory of special relativity

Neutrinos, like the ones above, have been detected travelling faster than light, say particle physicists.

It is a concept that forms a cornerstone of our understanding of the universe and the concept of time – nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
But now it seems that researchers working in one of the world’s largest physics laboratories, under a mountain in central Italy, have recorded particles travelling at a speed that is supposedly forbidden by Einstein’s theory of special relativity.
Scientists at the Gran Sasso facility will unveil evidence on Friday that raises the troubling possibility of a way to send information back in time, blurring the line between past and present and wreaking havoc with the fundamental principle of cause and effect.
They will announce the result at a special seminar at Cern – the European particle physics laboratory – timed to coincide with the publication of a research paper describing the experiment.
Researchers on the Opera (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) experiment recorded the arrival times of ghostly subatomic particles called neutrinos sent from Cern on a 730km journey through the Earth to the Gran Sasso lab.
The trip would take a beam of light 2.4 milliseconds to complete, but after running the experiment for three years and timing the arrival of 15,000 neutrinos, the scientists discovered that the particles arrived at Gran Sasso sixty billionths of a second earlier, with an error margin of plus or minus 10 billionths of a second.
The measurement amounts to the neutrinos travelling faster than the speed of light by a fraction of 20 parts per million. Since the speed of light is 299,792,458 metres per second, the neutrinos were evidently travelling at 299,798,454 metres per second.
The result is so unlikely that even the research team is being cautious with its interpretation. Physicists said they would be sceptical of the finding until other laboratories confirmed the result.
Antonio Ereditato, coordinator of the Opera collaboration, told the Guardian: "We are very much astonished by this result, but a result is never a discovery until other people confirm it.
"When you get such a result you want to make sure you made no mistakes, that there are no nasty things going on you didn’t think of. We spent months and months doing checks and we have not been able to find any errors.
"If there is a problem, it must be a tough, nasty effect, because trivial things we are clever enough to rule out."
The Opera group said it hoped the physics community would scrutinise the result and help uncover any flaws in the measurement, or verify it with their own experiments.
Subir Sarkar, head of particle theory at Oxford University, said: "If this is proved to be true it would be a massive, massive event. It is something nobody was expecting.
"The constancy of the speed of light essentially underpins our understanding of space and time and causality, which is the fact that cause comes before effect.
"Cause cannot come after effect and that is absolutely fundamental to our construction of the physical universe. If we do not have causality, we are buggered."
The Opera experiment detects neutrinos as they strike 150,000 “bricks” of photographic emulsion films interleaved with lead plates. The detector weighs a total of 1300 tonnes.
Despite the marginal increase on the speed of light observed by Ereditato’s team, the result is intriguing because its statistical significance, the measure by which particle physics discoveries stand and fall, is so strong.

Physicists can claim a discovery if the chances of their result being a fluke of statistics are greater than five standard deviations, or less than one in a few million. The Gran Sasso team’s result is six standard deviations.

Ereditato said the team would not claim a discovery because the result was so radical. “Whenever you touch something so fundamental, you have to be much more prudent,” he said.
Alan Kostelecky, an expert in the possibility of faster-than-light processes at Indiana University, said that while physicists would await confirmation of the result, it was none the less exciting.
“It’s such a dramatic result it would be difficult to accept without others replicating it, but there will be enormous interest in this,” he told the Guardian.
One theory Kostelecky and his colleagues put forward in 1985 predicted that neutrinos could travel faster than the speed of light by interacting with an unknown field that lurks in the vacuum.
“With this kind of background, it is not necessarily the case that the limiting speed in nature is the speed of light,” he said. "It might actually be the speed of neutrinos and light goes more slowly."
Neutrinos are mysterious particles. They have a minuscule mass, no electric charge, and pass through almost any material as though it was not there.
Kostelecky said that if the result was verified – a big if – it might pave the way to a grand theory that marries gravity with quantum mechanics, a puzzle that has defied physicists for nearly a century.
“If this is confirmed, this is the first evidence for a crack in the structure of physics as we know it that could provide a clue to constructing such a unified theory,” Kostelecky said.
Heinrich Paes, a physicist at Dortmund University, has developed another theory that could explain the result. The neutrinos may be taking a shortcut through space-time, by travelling from Cern to Gran Sasso through extra dimensions. “That can make it look like a particle has gone faster than the speed of light when it hasn’t,” he said.
But Susan Cartwright, senior lecturer in particle astrophysics at Sheffield University, said: "Neutrino experimental results are not historically all that reliable, so the words ‘don’t hold your breath’ do spring to mind when you hear very counter-intuitive results like this."
Teams at two experiments known as T2K in Japan and MINOS near Chicago in the US will now attempt to replicate the finding. The MINOS experiment saw hints of neutrinos moving at faster than the speed of light in 2007 but has yet to confirm them.

[/Quote]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/sep/22/faster-than-light-particles-neutrinos?newsfeed=true

If this is solidly confirmed (which seems to be case based on repeated observations) this totally rewrites our concept of what we see in the observable universe and opens up a realm of scientific discovery that could bring mankind to advancements like FTL space travel! Nearly 100 years of Einsteinian physics could be split asunder with a discovery like this!

Neutrinos have mass, which mean going FTL would break Einstein’s rules about mass being unable to travel the speed of light, which has held true for over a century of observations.

Not only that, this totally twists causality upside down, and allows real time travel to be a possibility!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! :looney:


#2

time to build a Delorean and fuck up the timeline!


#3

All scientists do is lie.


#4

There was another article I read stating that they want their findings scrutinized first to be EXTRA sure they didn’t miss something obvious/dumb, but it’s like “almost” confirmed.


#5
  1. Neutrinos
  2. ???
  3. Profit

i never believed 183K m/s being inexceedable was true anyway. [/bandwagon]


#6

I’m lost I don’t really understand… I thought Einstein’s equations treated light like mass even though light technically can’t have mass by his rules…


#7

I read this earlier and found it cool. Science is amazing.


#8

i was hoping white shadow would op this news info, glad he did.

i’ve always believed in UFOs…maybe now, interstellar travel doesn’t seem like such a bogus concept.
how else could martians appear in your bedroom to do random anal probes on you if they couldn’t travel in ships that can go faster than the speed of light?
it would take centuries to travel from one living planet to another even if you traveled very near the speed of light.
if you traveled near the speed of light, and traveled at that speed for a month…36 years would pass by on earth…but only a month would pass by for you in that ship…since time slows down for you the faster you travel through space.
but 36 years passes by for everyone else except you.
even if NASA right now could make a craft that could travel that fast for 2 or 3 months at a time…who would volunteer to be the astronaut that would man that ship? somebody manning a craft like that would have to say good-bye to family members, friends, lovers, etc…for life! since a 3 month voyage for said astronaut would mean a century passing back on planet earth.
yeah, no one would ever man a craft like that.

the real question is…if this is true…what happens to time itself if you surpass the speed of light?
would time freeze, go backwards? or what?

seriously though. nuetrons have been confusing physicists for over a century.
those nuetrinos have been trollin’ modern science since the early 20th century.
i remember physicists stating back in the early days of modern physics that neutrons didn’t even have any mass…which didn’t even make sense…that’s like saying neutrons are “ghost” particles or somethin’.

lastly, i ALWAYS knew Albert Einstein wasn’t so smart.
smug bastard.
but even if E=mc2 is wrong…one that will 4ever remain true is his other major discovery…which is,

E=MvC3

:wink:


#9

Ed Leedskalnin. You all should look him up. The guy built a megalithic structure in the early 1900s and claimed to have rediscovered the method used by the early Egyptians to build the pyramids. His ideas on magneticity are interesting…


#10

SCIENCE. I love it so.


#11

GLaDOS: It’s time to have fun…with Science.


#12

I’m both very happy and not surprised. I always assumed that something would one day take down Einstein just because we would be amazing much more information since his death to show us something more. It would beyond blow my mind if Einstein gets kicked to the curve while I’m alive.

“You know sonny, I was your age when we told a really smart german jew with a bad haircut that his theories could suck the big one. Then we went to Mars for Ice Cream, back when they used real space cow milk in it.”


#13

Wow, interesting stuff, can’t wait to see the report published.

I have the honor of having Michio Kaku as my professor, I’m gonna run this through him and see what he says, even though its way too early to judge anything yet.
Gonna run this through my Physics profs as well, we were just talking about this 2 days ago about how it’s experimentally shown that as a particle reaches speed of light, the energy required to accelerate it reaches infinity. Very curious to see what unfolds in the next few years.


#14

nah. there’d be plenty of people signing up for a trip like that.

i’m a firm believer that time doesn’t exist, but thats another discussion. does anyone genuinely believe that time could travel backwards?


#15

I won’t comment on the “time doesn’t exist” part, but I agree with you, there’s so many paradoxes relating to time travel backwards, while time travel to the future has already been shown numerous times. Who knows, at this point the only way to get these answers is through experimental results.

As much as i hate to admit it, in modern science and quantum mechanics, humans can’t just use their brain’s logic and reasoning to attempt to predict the behavior of sub-atomic particles, it’s just a different world in many ways, where our reasoning horribly falls.


#16

Science is getting crazy… They are researching regenerative medicine so people can extend their life span to say 1000 years… So the astronaut can go and come back w/ his loved ones still alive.


#17

interesting to find this news posted here on srk, from all sites :looney:


#18

if you have an Italian or Spanish friend who never has strong opinions or feelings about anything then you can call him Neutrino :cybot:


#19

rl chrono trigger?! lets do this.


#20

white shadow you are so cool

this article gives me a giant erection. i like how cautious the team is, and how they are asking other people to scrutinize their results. becaues that’s how science works! who knows, maybe they did make an error and overlooked some other factor, and that factor could be a scientific discovery in and of itself. anyway, i’m gonna go beat off to the idea of faster than light particles. mmmmm OH YEAH UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHH