Don't go throwing out your physics texts just yet, but there's some strange and unprecedented news brewing at CERN today that could potentially undo large parts of the Standard Model, and it has nothing to do with particle collisions at the LHC or elusive god particles. Physicists running routine neutrino experiments between CERN's Geneva HQ and the Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy 455 miles away have found that their neutrinos seem to be traveling faster than the speed of light. That's right: faster than the fastest known speed in the universe. It's certainly not something we could have predicted when putting together our latest FYI, which investigates whether anything can move faster than light.
Just a refresher--not that you need it--but nothing travels faster than the speed of light. In physics-as-we-understand-them, it is the absolute and ultimate speed limit in our universe. We've tested and retested the speed of light, measured it in as many ways as we can think of, and much of modern physics is built upon the idea that nothing can exceed it.
So naturally this result is potentially huge. But, as noted above, it's not yet time to tear down the whole of modern physics and start all over. Here's what's going on: CERN physicists are firing neutrinos--which don't interact with normal matter and thus can pass straight through the earth--to a detector in Italy. The aim here was to test the frequency of oscillations (that's when one flavor of neutrino spontaneously shifts to another flavor), so the Geneva team was sending a beam of muon neutrinos toward Gran Sasso, and the Gran Sasso team was recording how many ended up there as tau neutrinos.
But in doing so, they started to notice something odd. The neutrinos from CERN were showing up at Gran Sasso a few billionths of a second early--in other words, they appeared to be getting from Switzerland to Italy faster than light would travel the same distance.
This isn't an isolated anomaly, but has been going on for years. The team has now measured some 15,000 batches of neutrinos coming across that distance, and they say they've reached a point where the statistical significance is such that, were they trying to prove anything else, it would count as as formal scientific discovery. But try as they might, they can't explain what's happening.
Nobody, least of all the researchers involved, is ready to call the Standard Model's upper speed limit busted just yet. But they also can't explain what's happening, which is why they are opening up their data to scrutiny from the wider scientific community. So now we'll have to wait and see if others in the physics world can replicate their results or come up with some kind of explanation as to why the neutrinos appear to be breaching a fundamental physical law.
Feel free to beat them to the punch by posting your own theories in the comments below.
Something tells me someone is going to use the "optical allusion" excuse for this discovery to negate the possibility. Just like with subatomic particle velocities protruding from quasars.
Maybe it's time to except the fact that we don't know everything. Even the smartest men of years past didn't have an indefinite grasp of the universe. Them being as human as we are, it's sufficient to say that they can be wrong too, even several years after their own scientific discoveries and declarations.
I'm still willing to bet they'll rest in piece, and we'll still push the boundaries of our understanding and capabilities. There are exceptions to almost every rule.
I thought the expansion of the universe (expansion of space) was one thing that was faster than the speed of light according to an article here few days ago...
I take it someone already checked to see if the clock was the problem.
Ok, time for crazy theories. There is an idea out there that suggests mass slightly bends space, the greater the mass the greater the bend. Nutrinos will pass straight through mass with very little interaction because they are almost massless and are electrically neutral. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that they are unaffected by mass. By passing tangentially through a progressively denser mass, it is possible that the space that they travel through gets parabolically shorter relative to “regular space” and that they are essentially traveling a shorter distance than we would measure using a ruler. While normally these effects would be unmeasurable, these particles are traveling at relativistic speeds, which might amplify their interaction with the curvature of space (for some reason)…
…phew, that was fun. A more boring explanation might be that, since this group has repeatedly found this, that the emission detector has a billionth second more delay than the receptor detector on the other end.
Interesting stuff, wonder how they'll account for this granted if they ever come up with an explanation. On another note I vividly recall reading an excerpt in one of my physics books in college a couple years ago stating that the electrons from spent nuclear fuel rods-once exposed to water to cool down-travel faster than light. I believe it was argued there was no violation of Einstein's theories due to it occurring in water as the medium.
@Pheonix Why would you say "Maybe it's time to except the fact that we don't know everything" when the article specifically already talks about scientists admitting they don't have an explanation currently? Also, it's "accept" btw. And optical illusion. And rest in peace. If we thought we knew everything, we wouldn't be continually running experiments like this one.
@Kamydon I'm sure others have a better grasp of this than I do, but space has a rate that it is expanding which is expressed in kilometers per second per megaparsec, which essentially means that each unit of space will expand a certain amount in a second. The faster than light speeds come from when you look at two objects that are far enough away from each other to where all the space in between's expansion adds up to get those speeds. So nothing is really moving faster than the speed of light... it's hard to explain, but once you get it, it makes sense.
The superluminal velocities of subatomic particles are probably right in our face, and we simply fail to realize it because we are so strigent on holding onto a standard model of physics; mostly in the interst of being right all the time. But, I guess evolution hasn't fixed that problem yet.
That other article was mentioning how spacetime is expanding from the intial burst of all the matter in the universe following the Big Bang, and how the expansion of spacetime is accelerating do to an invisible force (dark energy). It is postulated that in the future the expansion of spacetime will reach velocities greater than the speed of light (at which point I'm assuming the Big Tear Theory of the universe's end will come into play).
Spacetime is not expanding at or faster than the speed of light yet, but it is accelerating. If it were, the light emitted from stars would not reach certain points in space at the same time relative time that we witness it to do now. Of course I could be wrong. I'm not an expert, and I won't even pretend to understand how the universe would behave if spacetime expansion reached superluminal velocities. For all we know, absolutely nothing might happen.
In an astronomy class i took a few years back we had a very light introduction to physics without as much math as might otherwise be required in a normal physics class but, i remember the instructor saying that scientists had observed neutrinos that appeared to be moving backwards in time( i dont know how it is possible to observe that but whatever)and the only thing that can cause that supposedly is faster than light speeds. so this doesn't surprise me too much.
WAIT JUST ONE MOMENT!!!
We were always told that if something went faster than the speed of light, time would go backwards!
Superman did it in the first movie.
Spock and Kirk did it in one of the Star Trek movies.
They went faster than light and traveled back in time.
So shouldn't time be continually going back wards?
Oh wait...the whole time going backwards thing is just for the *person* moving faster than light. It's merely a perception thing.
Still don't get how going really fast makes time go backwards. Now I am confused
Excuse my spelling errors. I had a long day at work (which started at 6am; guess how early I had to be up for that!). I merely stated that people will debunk these findings for the sake of holding on to a classical sense of understanding that helps us quantify everything that we know about. Finding out new discoveries and exceptions to well established rules are still scary concepts for most people. This usually illicits a certain response (imagine how the world would respond to find out that all of their spiritual beliefs were false).
However, I am aware that there are a small percentage of human beings that make up the group we call academics that continue to seek truth through scientific experimentation for the purpose of obtaining greater understanding. They aren't bound by tradition and dogma, which is why we were able to progress society beyond where it started from.
The real question is what the motivation behind your inquiry was? You obviously didn't interpret it the right way. If your point was merely to attack me for my spelling then I could do just the same for your lack of insight. You clearly missed the point I originally made by a few kilometers per second per megaparsec.
Superluminal light propagation has been lab tested and (somewhat) accepted for some time; this is just another verification dealing with particles that are supposed to have mass (although most older neutrino theories state that they shouldn't have mass, the fact that they can change flavor suggests to standard model relativists that they MUST have mass.)
Nothing new here, it's not like Einstein's theory actually allows for movement at all... ...
Antiparticles are basically particles (of the same kind) moving backwards in time - it can be shown using Feynman Diagrams. So how about the neutrinos just move through time? But it must be something the scientists thought about and rendered impossible or not applicable in this case because the neutrino just shifts into another flavor..
I recall being virtually lambasted on this site a few months ago when I suggested the speed of light was more so a theoretical barrier that we don't fully understand yet (much like the sound barrier many years ago) and can be broken.
Hmmm. . .
Well anyways, here's another theory you all can laugh at now (but will be proven in time): Time travel IS possible, but only into the future, and not into the past.
what if neutrino mass isn't constant?
what if there are forces in the universe (present in the earth's core) that can somehow alter the mass of the particle mid flight?
i did a search for neutrino mass, but it still seems to be largely uncertain - somewhere between 'mass-less' and 'an incredibly small amount of mass'
the thought pattern being that the neutrino was able to reach light speed (or greater) in a mass-less state, and acquired mass mid-flight.
with this theory, the standard model isn't quite violated: a particle with mass can not accelerate up to the speed of light
however, since neutrinos dont interact with particles, there is no reason to assume that should it acquire mass mid-flight. some other force would have to slow it down. maybe the mass-inducing force would slow it down.. but maybe it wouldn't?
if only we understood what gave matter mass..
@Kamydon: Space is not a physical thing, so it does not need to follow the speed limit. It has no energy, no mass, nothing.
@Nikitaj That theory is called relativity:) It's an inherent part of it that mass bends space-time. Anything traveling through though would get bent, and therefore would be apparent as it doesn't appear where it should.
@avgjoe: Correct. I'm not aware of the specific example, but in most cases they are talking about a medium where light gets slowed down more than some other particle. We have actually been able to slow light down to about the speed of a bicycle. The only problem occurs if something travels faster than the speed of light through a perfect vacuum.
@Phoenix1012: There is nothing wrong with space itself traveling faster than the speed of light. The big tear is something that happens long-long-long after certain portions of space have passed the speed of light compared to each other. The big rip/tear is some ridiculous thing like 900 trillion-trillion-trillion years in the future. Probably a lot more trillions, I forgot...not that it really matters at that point:)
Actually, it's quite likely space itself between 2 points is indeed expanding faster than light already. As you mentioned though, we wouldn't be able to see such a point as the light would never reach us. Currently, we can see approx. 13.5 billion light-years away, which when that light left is effectively when light started traveling ( before it was sort of too "foggy" )...so anywhere that space is traveling faster than light is further away from us than that. I am not sure what the total speed between the 2 observable ends would be ( which would appear to be 27 light-years apart, though that was also as they were 27 billion years ago. At this time, they are more around 96 billion light-years apart. )
@kook916: Are you sure it was Neutrinos? It's possible he was referring to this very information from CERN, which they say they have known about for awhile now.
@Jaypers: For starters, remember that time is part of space. It's the 4th dimension. It gets interesting when you add in Einsteins limits for velocity. You end up with a sort of set amount of speed you can use to "move" in total. Normally, we put a tiny amount into moving through space, and almost all goes to moving through time. The faster you go through space, the slower you move through time. At the speed of light, you stop moving through time. Yea..it's crazy. If you ask a person standing on MARS how long it takes a beam of light to go from earth to a point 1 light-year out, he would say it took 1 earth-year. However, if you ask that beam of light...it would tell you it just left right "now". Even light that has traveled from the big bang 13.7 billion years ago would tell you the bigbang happened right now.
So, lets say this number of speed is 10. If you move at 1 through space, you are moving 9 through time. Light moves at 10 through space, so 0 through time. The whole backwards through time comes in with the whole what happens when we go at 11 through space? What happens is you go backwards 1 ( IE: -1 forwards ) through time.
So, you can see that "time" itself doesn't go backwards, but rather the object travels backwards through time. This is possible with light:
HOWEVER: The part you need to pay attention to is "This superluminal behavior does not contradict the principles of Einstein's relativity theory". The reason this CERN data DOES, is that because it is a particle instead of light itself, there is no complex wave to manipulate ( quantum waves aren't exactly real waves. Hard to explain, like everything quantum, lol. ) and doubly because there is nothing manipulating the waves to begin with.
@TonyB: See above. Because this deals with a particle with mass, instead of light, and is outside of a very specific laboratory condition: This does indeed appear to break Relativity whereas the experiment you are mentioning does not.
@Quantumice: I think you are thinking of Negative particles. Anti-particles are normal particles with a reversed charge. anti-electrons are identical to an electron, just opposite spin and are positive. They behave normally in time.
However, even negative particles don't truly move backwards in time. The confusion arises from them APPEARING to move backwards as compared to normal matter. The reason is negative matter has the same charges ( negative-electrons are negatively charged. ), but they have negative 1 times the mass. So, if you held a negative matter baseball, and let go of it..it would fall up into the sky exactly backwards from a normal ball. This is naturally because if you work the math for any equation and just reverse the mass, you reverse the direction of motion, etc.
ATT negative matter remains theoretical. It might very well and not exist, but anti-matter was just theoretical for a long time as well. Now we use it on a regular basis in PET scans at hospitals around the world.
I know that probably doesn't clear everything up for everyone: I don't have anywhere near all the answers...and have no clue at all about the answer to these particles. If I do figure it out though, I'm not posting here:P I'm going to find some help and get it into a peer-reviewed publication and try to get my nobel-prize, hehe.
@mrwright: First, you got the time travel backwards:) Past is the "easy" one as all you do is travel faster than light. This here could lead to another method of time-travel to the past, though there are currently lots of various theories to do that already. Traveling to the future though is a fairly different story. For the most part, your options are to travel at a negative speed ( not backwards, but slower than stopped ), which obviously we have no idea how to do, or else you need someone in the future to establish a link with you in the past. Various methods of manipulating space and time together can create a link between 2 points of time, allowing travel between them.
Anyways, I don't know the exact comments you are referring to, so I won't comment on them. However, keep in mind that traveling faster than light is something completely different. This is something heavily rooted into virtually all physics, and has been proven countless times.
What we have with this discovery, is sort of like being told: 2-1=0. However, we know from all sorts of math that 1+1=2, and therefore 2-1=1. The 2 oppose each-other at the very fundamental core. We know the second is incredibly accurate, far so beyond what the first...yet here we are being shown 2-1=0. Either there is some hidden trickery going on that we haven't found yet, or we need to completely re-write the core of Physics while coming to all but the same conclusion.
Personally, my bet is on some sort of trick ( similar to the previously linked bit of light traveling faster than light-speed not violating relativity ), as current relativity is just too exact. To completely re-do everything about it and get the same answer is just incredibly unlikely.
Who knows though...anything is possible.
just let the gamers figure it out...probably some mistake and when they find it the conspiracy guys will pounce, cheers
anything is not possible, a little reality please
The science is settled. There's a broad consensus. Don't publicize the claims of these Einstein deniers.
right on man!
Science was settled thousands of years ago.
Not that I'm an Einstein denier, but if science were settled, how do you explain technological advances in society. Significant ones have happened with computer technology since the 1990s. I think that warrants the claim that science is no more settled than we are.
There's always room for development. It's warranted to pay respects to the great minds who established modular constructs of scientific knowledge for us to build on. But it doesn't mean that other brilliant, game changing minds won't follow.
You do not have to ride Einstein like a rodeo show.
@drchuck1: Actually, most current theories actually not only allow for anything, but demand it:) In an infinitely sized universe, with an infinite number of parallel dimensions, you have an infinite probability for any occurrence. Any theory with an infinite in it leaves room for absolutely any possibility occurring an infinite number of times in fact.
Sure, we might not ever be able to get out far enough, or find a way to get to these other dimensions/branes/planes, but it doesn't mean they aren't out there.
Einstein must have seen this coming down the pipeline. I guess being famous outweighed the potential risks of handing over great knowledge to a bunch of Monkeys.
By the way, Wikipedia and Google can make anyone posting here sound like a "know it all".
@Contra: Not sure exactly what you mean with the first one, but Einstein definitely saw that his theories did not fully mesh with quantum mechanics, and spent something like a decade trying to work things out. Reading this kind of makes you wonder though, could this 1 piece of information been the key he needed?
For the second comment: Indeed they can. They are great to add onto your knowledge, and invaluable resources, but you must always be careful that they are not the actual source of that information.
So I can still make a TARDIS, right?
Thanks for the insight on Einstein. I would say that thanks to Einstein, we will eventually figure out what to do with this key.
As for the first one:
Einstein must have contemplated the possible negative results of making his theorem public. I was in turn contemplating if the potential for becoming internationally recognized (as he did become) had any influence on his decision to do so. Maybe google can help answer this for me.
I would love to say I am surprise but I am not. Even if this turns out to be an error, it would not change the fact that the universe has no speed limit - be it light or something else. The notion of limits and linear are human conceptions... based solely on limited perception; it should have long gone the way of the flat earth theory.
Supernova 1987-A proved that neutrinos travel at the speed of light. That event occurred ~50,000 LY away, and the neutrinos and the photons it produced arrived here at the same time. If neutrinos really traveled as fast as the CERN experiment claims, they would have beaten the photons here by nearly 15 months.
Baffling indeed since neutrinos have mass, however in the future we will see if there is more to this than what we read here.
I've always pictured neutrinos as the mass that could break the light speed record but also travel at much slower classical speeds, this is predicted in a theory of everything I dreamed up over ten years ago. People would be amazed as to how simple this idea is, it also explains away the infinities and most of the spooky effects, entanglement, quantum tunneling, etc, etc, that happen in the standard model and why gravity behaves the way it does.
When NASA estimated the almost perfect vacuum of space at earths distance from the sun, approximate 6.5 particles per cm³, they didn't include neutrinos -- neutrinos are particles. In comparison on earth at one atmosphere there are approximately 2.5 X 10³¹ particles per cm³.
Most solar neutrinos pass through the earth without hitting anything that has mass, trillions of solar neutrinos pass through your body every second.