New test finds neutrinos still faster than speed of light

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    Nov 19, 2011 12:49 AM GMT
    What is probably the most exciting news in physics now, the neutrino experiment conducted by OPERA scientist in September corrected for a potential error confirms that neutrinos travel 90 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light.

    "That first finding was recorded when 15,000 neutrino beams were pumped over three years from CERN to Gran Sasso, an underground Italian laboratory near Rome.

    Physicists on the experiment, called OPERA after the initials of its formal scientific title, said they had checked and rechecked over many months anything that could have produced a misreading before announcing what they had found.

    If confirmed, scientists say the findings may show that Einstein -- seen as the father of modern physics -- was wrong when he set out in his theory of special relativity that the speed of light is a "cosmic constant" and nothing can go faster.?"

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/18/science-neutrinos-light-idUSL5E7MI2D120111118

    Independent testing will be conducted by several teams in Spring 2012.

    My question: Didn't Einstein also say that an object going at or faster than speed of light will warp time around it? Could this not happen here as well?
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    Nov 19, 2011 5:37 AM GMT
    I read about this today. It still isn't proven that neutrinos can travel faster than light, but this eliminates some of the possible errors that could have caused the readings. They still have to conduct more tests at other labs to validate the findings.
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    Nov 19, 2011 5:44 AM GMT
    I've heard about this. I have friends how are freaking out about this
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    Nov 19, 2011 6:04 AM GMT
    there's another thread about this from Growapair...
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    Nov 19, 2011 6:05 AM GMT
    carminea said

    My question: Didn't Einstein also say that an object going at or faster than speed of light will warp time around it? Could this not happen here as well?


    I agree.. considering physics, I see no problem whatsever of going into negative or imaginary time or whatever it may be called.. I wouldnt be phased if there were several timelines. I mean, if there can be infinite dimensions, why not infinite timelines?
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    Nov 19, 2011 6:07 AM GMT
    This experiment eliminated just one of many possible sources of error. The effect that they're measuring is so unimaginably tiny... relativistic effects on the speed of GPS satellites, daily continental drift, tidal wobble, all exert larger effects on the target. It's still pretty unlikely that the result will hold up. Of course, the best thing would be to construct a completely independent apparatus to measure it in a different way, but that might be a tiny bit difficult to pay for.
  • commoncoll

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    Nov 19, 2011 6:21 AM GMT
    mindgarden saidThis experiment eliminated just one of many possible sources of error. The effect that they're measuring is so unimaginably tiny... relativistic effects on the speed of GPS satellites, daily continental drift, tidal wobble, all exert larger effects on the target. It's still pretty unlikely that the result will hold up. Of course, the best thing would be to construct a completely independent apparatus to measure it in a different way, but that might be a tiny bit difficult to pay for.


    Carminea's post: Independent testing will be conducted by several teams in Spring 2012.
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    Nov 19, 2011 6:35 AM GMT
    How tachy.

    (Theories that Neutrinos have tachyonic properties have been around for at least 25 years.)

    Here's the link to the present paper:
    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1109/1109.4897.pdf

    As you can see (pp. 9-11), they took continental drift - and tidal effects - into consideration.
    They put the error level at 10 nanoseconds.

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    Nov 19, 2011 1:55 PM GMT
    Why are people freaking out about this? That the speed of light is nature's speed limit is just a theory. Just like early humans theorized that the earth is flat, it's okay if that theory is discarded if proven false, as it should be.

    Tightly clinging to a delusion doesn't make it any less so.
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    Nov 19, 2011 9:39 PM GMT
    it's science, everything should be up for questioning unless it has been proven absolutely and considering we can not propel ourselves up to the speed of light to find out if it is the maximum speed we can obtain then we haven't proven anything.

    Remember, this is science, not religion, we are suppose to question everything.
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    Nov 19, 2011 9:43 PM GMT
    Time travel.
    1983_delorean_dmc-12-pic-38289.jpeg
    Silly scientists should've known the Neutrinos only had to go 88mph... Overkill
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    Nov 19, 2011 10:08 PM GMT
    Animus saidWhy are people freaking out about this? That the speed of light is nature's speed limit is just a theory. Just like early humans theorized that the earth is flat, it's okay if that theory is discarded if proven false, as it should be.

    Tightly clinging to a delusion doesn't make it any less so.


    Because a lot of people take scientific theory like it is a religious truth... they are simply unable to question what they believe in sometimes
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    Nov 20, 2011 3:53 AM GMT
    It's not that at all. It's just that when a theory has withstood the test of time for over 100 years and suddenly there is anomalous data, it is appropriate to test and retest - which is what has happened and will continue to happen.

    Consider further that at issue here is a measurement of 60 (90?) nanoseconds - that's billionths of a second.

    Furthermore, there have been other "experiments" (e.g. a supernova) where neutrinos arrived after photons.
    (i.e. light was faster.)

    Assuming that it is verified that some neutrinos are a tiny fraction faster than photons... what really changes? What if we simply redefine C as the speed of these neutrinos? Obviously this won't change much in Earth-based physics, but what impact would it have on astrophysics?
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    Nov 20, 2011 5:06 AM GMT
    Caesarea4 saidIt's not that at all. It's just that when a theory has withstood the test of time for over 100 years and suddenly there is anomalous data, it is appropriate to test and retest - which is what has happened and will continue to happen.

    Consider further that at issue here is a measurement of 60 (90?) nanoseconds - that's billionths of a second.

    Furthermore, there have been other "experiments" (e.g. a supernova) where neutrinos arrived after photons.
    (i.e. light was faster.)


    Assuming that it is verified that some neutrinos are a tiny fraction faster than photons... what really changes? What if we simply redefine C as the speed of these neutrinos? Obviously this won't change much in Earth-based physics, but what impact would it have on astrophysics?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova_1987a

    Neutrino bursts were observed from this supernova. They didn't arrive on earth before the light bursts from the supernova.

    The Fermilab is recreating the experiment along with some others in Spring 2012. It is very unlikely that the experiment will be recreated.

    The original simulation had an error where Dutch scientists found that neutrinos had a 32 nanosecond lead over light in their reference frame on each end. This experiment corrected for that. This does not mean that there are no other errors.

    If, a very big if, this experiment is confirmed by independent labs, it doesn't necessarily disprove Einstein's theory of special relativity or that the speed of light is the maximum speed that can be achieved. It simply means it needs to be expanded with respect to almost massless fundamental particles.

    For example, with string theory, it becomes possible for particles with incredibly high momentum and energies to leave our four dimensional world and jump in times. Thus motion is no longer in our linear dimensions.
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    Nov 20, 2011 5:40 AM GMT
    GreenHopper saidBecause a lot of people take scientific theory like it is a religious truth... they are simply unable to question what they believe in sometimes


    Like global warming/climate change... or the theory of evolution.

    DISCLAIMER: not pimping creationism here; just saying that some folks get extremely dogmatic about these theories - as much as the most ardent bible preacher.

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    Nov 20, 2011 7:06 AM GMT
    Animus saidWhy are people freaking out about this?


    Because it's like suddenly saying something like gravity can possibly be deactivated...it goes against decades of common knowledge. It's the question that freaks people out, not the fact. If I told you that based off a scientific experiment there's a possibility you can live forever if you choose, are you going to freak out about it like a normal person? Or just scoff like you think you're too cool for the possibility of an amazing change in thought and life in general and say, "oh yeah but it's not a fact you can't prove it yet."?

    It's okay to be skeptical, but it's annoying when you downplay excitement.
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    Nov 20, 2011 7:08 AM GMT
    GreenHopper said
    Animus saidWhy are people freaking out about this? That the speed of light is nature's speed limit is just a theory. Just like early humans theorized that the earth is flat, it's okay if that theory is discarded if proven false, as it should be.

    Tightly clinging to a delusion doesn't make it any less so.


    Because a lot of people take scientific theory like it is a religious truth... they are simply unable to question what they believe in sometimes


    Except science is based on FACTS from decades, sometimes centuries, of LOGICAL EMPIRICISM while religion is based off of FEAR and reading a fucking book written 2,000 years ago.
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    Nov 20, 2011 1:45 PM GMT
    carminea saidIf confirmed, scientists say the findings may show that Einstein -- seen as the father of modern physics -- was wrong when he set out in his theory of special relativity that the speed of light is a "cosmic constant" and nothing can go faster.?"


    I know that this is direct quote from the article, but it's not quite accurate.

    My understanding is that objects travelling faster than light doesn't violate Einstein's special relativity, but that it violates causality when considered alongside relativity.

    In other words, it violates the idea that the cause should precede the effect. From our point of view, the neutrinos arrived in Italy after they were created in Geneva. But a different observer travelling at great speed relative to the earth will observe the neutrino arriving in Italy before they were created in Geneva. The neutrino will appear to be travelling backward in time. This is a subtle consequence of the speed of light being the same for all observers.

    So these observations mean one (or more) of three things
    - the experiment is wrong, incorrectly analyzed, or misinterpreted
    - Einstein's relativity is wrong, or incomplete
    - causality as we know it is not a feature of our universe
    in order of increasing implausibility.

    I don't know which of these will turn out to be true. If everything else holds up, it may even be that our notion of causality needs to be adjusted. And that causality isn't obeyed for all observers, only the ones that matter. It may even be that causality needs to abandoned entirely, which I'm sure will mean a field day for all the pseudo-intellectual cranks.


    On a different note, I find it amusing the comments on RJ are much more intelligent than on your typical tech website, the ones who love this kind of story. You read some of their comments, did they account for the curvature of the earth, did they account for relativistic effects? Yes you dimwit, they did. Proof that gays are smarter than your average (pimply-faced, teenaged) nerd.
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    Nov 20, 2011 2:16 PM GMT
    GreenHopper said
    Animus saidWhy are people freaking out about this? That the speed of light is nature's speed limit is just a theory. Just like early humans theorized that the earth is flat, it's okay if that theory is discarded if proven false, as it should be.

    Tightly clinging to a delusion doesn't make it any less so.


    Because a lot of people take scientific theory like it is a religious truth... they are simply unable to question what they believe in sometimes


    Because they haven't disproved today's delusion yet.
    Anyway, there's probably some mental resistance to such a revolutionary concept since it means that we'll have to redo Einstein's theory.
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    Nov 20, 2011 3:50 PM GMT
    Scientists "redo" (adjust & refine) theories all the time, including evolution and the big bang.

    Seems some people here want to see the baby thrown out with the bath-water.
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    Nov 21, 2011 2:49 AM GMT
    Caesarea4 saidScientists "redo" (adjust & refine) theories all the time, including evolution and the big bang.

    Seems some people here want to see the baby thrown out with the bath-water.


    Don't turn a neutral statement into something for you to attack, please.
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    Nov 21, 2011 3:00 AM GMT
    It's a big deal because the speed of light being the fastest "thing" in the universe is an assumption from which many other theories and mathematical formulae are based.

    Break that assumption and you may alter any number of important theories.

    For example, E=mc^2 -- might no longer hold if the assumption that nothing is faster than the speed of light (c) is no longer true (I'm speaking out of ignorance here... I don't know enough of how this formulae was derived).
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    Nov 21, 2011 3:35 AM GMT
    There will have to be a significant amount of testing done and chances are they will keep doing what they have been doing and attacking the methodology and finding other flaws to prevent from accepting the theory. It's actually not the worst thing to happen for physics. Science is about change, and when a theory is falsified it inspires investigation of the anomaly and a move from normal science to something new.
  • aquariumkid

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    Nov 26, 2011 4:58 PM GMT
    carmineaMy question: Didn't Einstein also say that an object going at or faster than speed of light will warp time around it? Could this not happen here as well?


    well in most cases yes, but in this case that is a no. einsteins theory dictates that objects with mass can not go faster than the speed of light. to conserve that theory einstein said that the faster an object goes, the more it distorts time around it. this is because as it approaces the speed of light the mass increases dramatically, causing the acceleration to decrease because the force applied must remain the same as seen in equation 1.

    (1) F=m•a

    (m=mass, F=force, a=acceleration)

    (2) γ = 1/(1 - (v/c)2)1/2

    equation 2 is the equation for time dilation, we physicists only use this on particles with mass though such as muon or tau particles. their corresopnding neutrinos have no mass and therefore cannot dilate time so they travel at the speed of light "c"

    now massless particles were previously said to travel at the speed of light. no faster. no slower. the new test just disproves that theoryicon_confused.gif
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    Nov 28, 2011 12:04 PM GMT
    Animus saidWhy are people freaking out about this? That the speed of light is nature's speed limit is just a theory. Just like early humans theorized that the earth is flat, it's okay if that theory is discarded if proven false, as it should be.

    Tightly clinging to a delusion doesn't make it any less so.



    And yet the facts.. (altough i found it on wiki)

    Percentages of people in European countries who said in 2005 that they "believe there is a God"
    300px-Europe_belief_in_god.svg.png

    Percentages of people in European countries with no belief in a spirit, god, or life force (Eurobarometer 2005)
    300px-Europe_No_Belief.png



    The percentage of people in North America by sub-national divisions (except Mexico) who identify with a religion, as opposed to having "no religion" (1991, 1998, 2000, 2001)
    350px-Religious_Belief_in_North_America.


    my american brothers you have a looong way to go still, and so does the rest of the world.. don't give up! icon_smile.gif