Scientists from the CERN laboratory in Switzerland say they have been able to observe small particles called neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light in a vacuum. If so, this would contradict perhaps the most fundamental hypothesis of micro and macro physics. It would in fact debunk the Theory of Relativity.
Per the 1st article:
Realizing full well how scandalous the results will be if they are borne out, the scientists behind OPERA, led by Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern, have decided to make their data public, in hopes of inviting scrutiny that could make sense of such radical findings.
Per the 2nd article:
If MINOS were to confirm OPERA's find, the consequences would be enormous. "If you give up the speed of light, then the construction of special relativity falls down," says Antonino Zichichi , a theoretical physicist and emeritus professor at the University of Bologna, Italy. Zichichi speculates that the "superluminal" neutrinos detected by OPERA could be slipping through extra dimensions in space, as predicted by theories such as string theory.
Per the 3ird article:
At least one other experiment has seen a similar effect before, albeit with a much lower confidence level. In 2007, the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) experiment in Minnesota saw neutrinos from the particle-physics facility Fermilab in Illinois arriving slightly ahead of schedule.
Per the 5th article:
Even this small deviation would open up the possibility of time travel and play havoc with longstanding notions of cause and effect. Einstein himself — author of modern physics — said that if you could send a message faster than light, "You could send a telegram to the past."
Attempts at further verifying the finding certainly seem to be in order. A preprint of the results will be published Friday (Sept. 23) on the physics website www.ArXiv.org.
Update 1: A second more refined experiment at CERN has confirmed the results of the first. More experimentation is nonetheless necessary to resolve questions pertaining to the synchronization of the clocks used in the experiments. Per the article below:
Per the 1st article below:
Not only has the beam precision been improved, she says, but the statistical analysis is also more robust and has been replicated by groups within OPERA besides the original team.
Per the 2nd article below:
Wiseman says that the difficulty of the experiment and a lack of detail about clock synchronization in the initial OPERA paper may explain why so few critiques of the experiment methodology have been published so far, although more are probably on the way.
Update 2: The OPERA collaboration now says that the faster than light travel of neutrinos suggested by its experiments may have been an erroneous result of faulty GPS synchronization of the atomic clocks used in them.
But according to a statement OPERA began circulating today, two possible problems have now been found with its set-up. As many physicists had speculated might be the case, both are related to the experiment’s pioneering use of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals to synchronize atomic clocks at each end of its neutrino beam....An anonymously sourced account on Science Insider today broke the news that OPERA may have made a mistake . That report says the faulty connection can account exactly for the 60 nanosecond effect. OPERA’s official statement stops short of that, saying instead that its two possible sources of error point in opposite directions and it is still working things out.
Update 3: An independent experiment called ICARUS contradicts the faster than light travel of neutrinos supposedly detected by the OPERA experiment. Per the article:
"Our results are in agreement with what Einstein would like to have," says Carlo Rubbia, the spokesperson for ICARUS and a Nobel prizewinning physicist at CERN. Neutrinos measured by the experiment arrived within just 4 nanoseconds of the time that light travelling through a vacuum would take to cover the distance, well within the experimental margin of error.