Breaking the laws of physics?

Posted in: science, technology- Sep 25, 2011 2 Comments

Image courtesy fo Subdury Neutrino Observatory; Quote courtesy of BBC News.

What do you do when subatomic particles break the law? You proceed with caution.

It could either be a(nother) mind-blowing discovery or just a case of a big computer that needs recalibrating, but researchers at CERN are reporting they have clocked neutrinos breaking the speed of light.

What’s the biggy? Think: time-travel, worm-holes, other dimensions. Einstein’s theory of relativity? Wrong. Oh, and we’d have to rewrite the books on our understanding of how our world works.

I appreciate that the researchers involved are duly skeptical. They are asking the scientific community to review their findings and challenging (almost hopefully it seems) to find any errors in their methods or calculations.

It’s an odd combination of thrill at the discovery and a hope that it’s flawed. Maybe it’s because scientists like things to add up and this doesn’t according to all previous thinking. Maybe because it’s a wonderful reminder that we don’t know it all—not by a long shot.

And so I wonder, what will be the next theory of relativity? Who will be the next Einstein? What will be the next shape of our world to come? Or do computers just need to be recalibrated?


Bonus: If you haven't seen it, check out "What The Bleep Do We Know?"

Read on!
Go directly to the source: CERN: OPERA experiment invites scrutiny of unexpected results
Reuters: Particles found to break speed of light
BBC News: Light speed: Flying into fantasy.
Economic Times: Evidence of faster-than-light neutrinos puzzles scientists
NY Times: After Report on Speed, a Rush of Scrutiny