In 1905, Albert Einstein proposed his Special Theory of Relativity, upon which much of modern physics is based. It depends on the assumption that nothing travels faster than the speed of light. But recent experiments are calling that assumption into question, threatening to change everything we know about how the universe works. Was Einstein’s theory wrong?
Albert Einstein & the Special Theory of Relativity?
Light travels at 186,282 miles per second. According to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, this is the maximum speed limit in the universe…until now. Recently, scientists working at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, announced that it had measured subatomic particles known as neutrinos outpacing the speed of light.
Obviously, 60 nanoseconds isn’t much time. But the results appear consistent over time and thus, impossible to ignore.
The experiment was conducted by the Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus, or OPERA. Due to the shocking nature of the findings, OPERA is urging caution. And with good reason. In 2007, researchers at Fermilab announced similar findings with neutrinos. But the difficulties in measuring distance, time, and angles led to an unacceptable margin of error. So, while the OPERA team believes its margin of error is just ten nanoseconds, they could be incorrect.
Caution is in order so at the moment, the team is merely asking other scientists to test its results. Unfortunately, that sort of analysis can only be conducted at two other labs in the world. And to make matters worse, neither lab is well-equipped to duplicate the experiments. One lab, located in Japan, has been “slowed by the tsunami and earthquake.” The other lab, Fermilab, needs to be upgraded.
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
If the findings hold up under further scrutiny, the discovery has enormous implications for science. Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is the basis for much of modern physics and a particle traveling faster than the speed of light would require scientists to rethink their views on the way the universe operates.
As for real-world applications, there’s at least one intriguing possibility that I can’t help but mention…time travel.
“Light speed is a cosmic speed limit and it exists in order to protect the law of cause and effect. If something travels faster than the cosmic speed limit, then it becomes possible to send information into the past – in other words, time travel into the past would become possible. That does not mean we’ll be building time-machines anytime soon though – there is quite a gulf between a time-travelling neutrino to a time-travelling human.” ~ Professor Jeff Forshaw