Friday, 23 September 2011

E=MC2 or Maybe Not

Here's a quote from a research paper produced by the Brainy Boffins conducting the OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) experiment at their Gran Sasso laboratory:
An early arrival time of CNGS muon neutrinos with respect to the one computed assuming the speed of light in vacuum of (60.7 ± 6.9 (stat.) ± 7.4 (sys.)) ns was measured. This anomaly corresponds to a relative difference of the muon neutrino velocity with respect to the speed of light (v-c)/c = (2.48 ± 0.28 (stat.) ± 0.30 (sys.)) ×10-5.
What this apparently means is the the Eggheads have managed to get some neutrinos to travel faster than the speed of light by about 6,000 metres per second. Using the CERN particle accelorator in Switzerland, they fired some neutrinos over the 730 km distance to Gran Sasso in Italy and calculated that the neutrinos had arrived there before a beam of light would have, i.e. 60 billionths of a second earlier. This is counter-intuitive and, moreover, messes up Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity. The Guardian reports Subir Sarkar, head of particle theory at Oxford University as saying:
"The constancy of the speed of light essentially underpins our understanding of space and time and causality, which is the fact that cause comes before effect. Cause cannot come after effect and that is absolutely fundamental to our construction of the physical universe. If we do not have causality, we are buggered."
Of course, this research has to be tested and verified by others. As eny fule kno, time, distance and speed are relative so if you get the measurement of time and distance wrong then the calculation of speed will be wrong. No doubt the Russians and Americans are cranking up their accelerators, checking their tape measures and winding up their clocks at this very moment. Or maybe they did next week and they've already got their results tomorrow. We here at Xorg Inter-Galactic suggest that perhaps the neutrinos didn't travel directly from Switzerland to Italy but perhaps went via another dimension, arriving back in Gran Sasso slightly out of synch with the Boffins.
Addendum: If you were to travel by road (quite a scenic route across the Alps) from CERN to Gran Sasso it would take you 8 hours and 44 minutes to cover the 930 km. Approximately. Unless, of course, you were to encounter a trans-dimensional anomaly along the way.

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