There was a lot a press today over news that a group of physicists reported clocking subatomic particles traveling faster than the speed of light. Their research questions one of the fundamental pillars of physics; that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Suppose their findings are correct. What does this really mean?
Is it really suprising that a nearly 100-year-old physics theory is starting to break down? While more evidence is necessary to support this extra-ordinary claim, why should the speed of light be the limit at which all particles can move?
If history repeats itself, we are due for some experimental results that bring about fundamental changes to the way we understand our universe.
Dear Mr. Benjamin Kohn,
I have seen your reply to Mr. O'Brien.
If a particle travels faster than light speed, then the mass of that particle must be imaginary quantity, if we obey the mass formula of Einstein, that is, m=static mass m0/square root of(1-velocity squared/ the light speed squared). But, how can we imagine a imaginary mass?
As to my side, I am still doubting the exsistence of a particle called nutrino.
Reading a dictionary, its exisistence is only detected by a detection of indirect particle, the positron.
Is the exisistence of a nutrino well established now ?
Or are we deceieved by an artifact of some theoritical mirage?
September 29, 2011
I don't think the recent CERN finding of aberrantly speedy neutrinos constitutes the start of the inevitable break down of a 100-year old theory. The Constancy of the Speed Light c is just one principle--albeit an important one--in the Special Theory of Relativity. The past 100 years or so have witnessed many experiments that initially seem to falsify Einstein's theories, but none of them withstood verification.
As recently as May 2011, gravitational consequences predicted by Einstein's General Relativity, specifically the geodetic effect and "frame dragging", were confirmed in incredibly minute and precise detail by NASA's Gravity Probe B (GP-B) satellite. (For more information, go to http://einstein.stanford.edu/MISSION/mission1.html or check out the published findings in the online journal Physical Review Letters.)
My point is that we should not "jump the gun" but examine the CERN findings with the appropriate level of scientific skepticism. . . . I confess I do have another point: The age of a theory is a poor indicator of its integrity.
Dark matter, large hadron colliders and small black holes, string theory, graviton, and now .... a wave (or very mass less particle) violating Special relativity. I'm not surprised.
I am surprised.
I am surprised to know about the Bell's inequality.
Experimental results due to Aspect or Gisin are extraordinary. Their results show that in the real world, Bell's inequality is violated. This means that our universe is not local. Assume, for example, Alice who is at the east end of the universe measures a photon polarization direction which is probalistic quantity, and Bob who is at the west end of the universe observes passively the sister entangled photon polarizarion. Assume that Alice does the measurement first and Bob only sees resultant data passively on the display screen.
The experimental results of Aspect and Gisin demonstrated that, If the entangled eigenvalues are A and B, then if Alice gets A then Bob gets B, or if Alice gets B then Bob gets A (if my understanding and wording are correct.)
This causation happens in no time! That is, information about a quantum mechanically entangled quantity goes much faster than the speed of light from the east end of the universe to the west end of the universe in no time!
But this topic possively might be not on the focus of the present discussion.
Since the problem under discussion is whether a mass/energy, not a bit of information, can overcome the light speed barrier or not.
Reference books: "The New Quantum Age" Andrew Whitakar Oxford University Press.
"The Conscious Universe" Menas Kafatos, Robert Nadeau Springer Verlag