Thursday, February 23, 2012

Faster-than-light neutrino does not exist after all

In September last year, researchers from CERN shocked the world by announcing that a specific particle was able to travel faster than light, something that is impossible according to laws of physics. After a revaluation of their systems, the scientists found a flaw that explains why they measured neutrino's to be faster than light. It appears to be an end to something that would cause Einstein to turn over in his grave.

According to a spokesman from CERN, a faulty GPS connection caused the scientists to measure a speed that appeared to be higher than that of light. Because GPS units are used as clocks while the particles race through  730km of Earth crust from Switzerland to Italy, there was a discrepancy between what they measured and their real arrival time. The root of the problem lies in a broken fiber optic cable that appears to have been malfunctioning while CERN conducted their experiments.

After repeating the experiments with a proper GPS connection, the scientists reported that neutrinos in fact do not travel faster than light. CERN states that more experiments are needed to confirm that the GPS problem underlies the original measurement, but it seems to be pretty obvious. Many researchers have already stated that a calculation error is likely to have caused the faster-than-light neutrino.

Laws of physics
According to the laws of Einstein's relativity, nothing can travel faster than light. If something approaches light speed, it's mass becomes near infinite, which means something other than massless photons can never reach the speed of light, because an infinite mass would require an infinite amount of energy to accelerate. This is summed up nicely in Einstein's famous equation E=MC2. It is possible to imagine speeds faster than light, but it is impossible to actually acquire them.

Time dilatation
According to the same laws of physics, we get something called time dilatation if we approach light speed. Clocks start to move slower if one approaches the speed of light. That causes someone would travel with nearly the speed of light to age more slowly. It also means two observers, moving with a certain speed relative to each other will not agree on the amount of time it takes to travel from a certain point A to B. Also, gravity influences the way time moves. It radically differs from our notion that time is absolute, but it is the way the universe works. It is just not visible with the speeds and power of gravity we experience in daily life. It appears as if the universe bends itself to prevent things from reaching speeds higher than light. 

No comments:

Post a Comment