Update on CERN and Einstein
We recently wrote about the Physics-rattling finding at CERN on the Swiss/French border. Neutrinos that were sent 450 miles through the earth appeared to travel faster than the speed of light, which would invalidate Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Whether this actually happened or was some measurement error is a topic of debate, which is likely to continue on for a while. Fortunately, these ongoing discussions will help us all better understand the physical world:
Its been about a month since the earth-shaking news came out that perhaps Einstein was wrong, i.e., the discovery that 15,000 neutrinos seemed to outrace a light beam, contradicting Einstein’s statement that light speed is the ultimate speed limit in the universe.
Many physicists could not believe it, since most of modern physics is built on Einstein’s theory, which is proven correct every day. Moreover, in 1987, neutrinos and light from a supernova outside the Milky Way Galaxy were shown to hit the earth at roughly the same time. Now a rough consensus seems to be emerging among physicists that the CERN result is wrong (although the controversy may linger for a long time, at least until groups in Japan and Chicago duplicate the result).
From CBS News:
A second experiment at the European facility that reported subatomic particles zooming faster than the speed of light — stunning the world of physics — has reached the same result, scientists said late Thursday.
The “positive outcome of the [second] test makes us more confident in the result,” said Fernando Ferroni, president of the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics, in a statement released late Thursday. Ferroni is one of 160 physicists involved in the international collaboration known as OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion Tracking Apparatus) that performed the experiment.
While the second experiment “has made an important test of consistency of its result,” Ferroni added, “a final word can only be said by analogous measurements performed elsewhere in the world.”