Huge Physics News

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Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:30 pm

The speed of light may have been broken (and using neutrinos, which have mass, at that).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/8782 ... light.html

If this finding holds up, it really shakes up modern physics in a major way, since it means the theory of relativity is only good as an approximation of reality (although, this one result aside, it seems to be a very good approximation). If follow up tests confirm the results, this deserves to be front page news, imo, even though most Americans would skip such a story. (Science news is like broccoli, you may hate it, but it is good for you overall.)
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:41 pm

While it is certainly *possible* that this result is real, I'm not convinced that it isn't some form of measurement error.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:44 pm

If true (and given the various tests of SR and GR over the years, that's a MONSTROUS if), consider my mind truly broken. Particles with mass exceeding c (let alone achieving c)? At age 47 and having read as much as I have that should be impossible.

Given the enormity of the finding I'm sure they checked it every way they knew how and their call for prudence is admirable. If some outside measurement effect ends up being the cause, the climb-down is going to be painful.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:52 pm

That should mean they travel back in time, no?
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:54 pm

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and if I was wagering I'd bet against it. But yes, if it proves to be true that news is about as big as it gets. In the same way that Newtonian physics describes our daily world and only needs to be refined by relativity in extremis, it may be that relatively needs further refinements in extremis maximus.

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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:57 pm

Madman wrote:That should mean they travel back in time, no?

According to our current Einsteinian physics? Yes.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:58 pm

This blog (by a Czech physicist who works in high energy) is a pretty good explanation about why he thinks this is bunk. It's a bit technical, but funny too. The smart money is on Einstein.

Edit: also, wait for the peer-reviewed paper. Going to the press before peer-review virtually guarantees that this result is false.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:04 pm

Yet another "physics breakthrough" article from a major tabloid. These tend to be the types of places where you also hear about new "free energy" breakthroughs. When will people ever learn?
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:12 pm

Crayon Shin Chan wrote:Yet another "physics breakthrough" article from a major tabloid. These tend to be the types of places where you also hear about new "free energy" breakthroughs. When will people ever learn?

as much as I wouldn't buy a copy of the Telegraph my self it isn't a tabloid.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:02 pm

Crayon Shin Chan wrote:Yet another "physics breakthrough" article from a major tabloid. These tend to be the types of places where you also hear about new "free energy" breakthroughs. When will people ever learn?
It's an experiment involving CERN and a major lab and got reported by the AP and has been picked up by every news outlet you can think of. As unlikely as it is, they're not going to talk about it unless they've checked all the obvious sources of error (which of course leave plenty of other sources).

Not surprisingly, they're asking Fermilab to confirm but that may not be possible until they upgrade their instruments. And without confirmation, we can all hold off on the warp drives and time machines.
AP wrote:Drew Baden, chairman of the physics department at the University of Maryland, said it is far more likely that the CERN findings are the result of measurement errors or some kind of fluke. Tracking neutrinos is very difficult, he said.

"This is ridiculous what they're putting out," Baden said. "Until this is verified by another group, it's flying carpets. It's cool, but ..."
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:22 pm

Does anyone else remember Pons and Fleischmann?
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:26 pm

Yeah, I'm betting on experimental error. I would need their results to be replicated by at least a couple different teams with different equipment before I believe it.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:53 pm

i just saw that now, on the telegraph link you provided, thank you BTW, and this means a lot for human beings. Even for those who dont understand.
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This is rewriting of science, and so exciting it is
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:58 pm

This is a interesting find, no matter the outcome.

We could discover some new phenomena or even find a flaw with our current understanding on how to measure c. ;)

Boys and girls, this is what pure research is all about. Trying to find and understand how and why stuff the way it is. Going as far as understanding why our original findings were flawed to begin with.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:08 pm

I guess this means that all of the spaceship sci-fi will actually work now. Prepare for warp-speed.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:12 pm

There are many reasons why this discrepancy would exist that do not violate the universal speed limit. You'll notice the actual researchers aren't claiming that the speed limit has been violated, just that the neutrinos arrived ahead of schedule - WHY? - well they don't address that.

We've been studying neutrinos arriving at this planet from millions of light years away and they always get here around the same time as the light. If the neutrinos were traveling even the smallest fraction faster than the light they'd be arriving here years before the light does - and they don't.

Bent or torqued space, time dilation or perhaps a shortcut though another dimension (perhaps one of the eleven in string theory) could all produce these odd results.

Perhaps we've discovered a shortcut. My money is on shortcut rather than a violation of the speed limit.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:14 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Madman wrote:That should mean they travel back in time, no?

According to our current Einsteinian physics? Yes.


Not relative to the neutrino, just to the non-neutrino observer.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:15 pm

Ars' article notes that the MINOS experiment at Fermilab had similar results, but with error bars so big that the researchers dismissed the possibility that the actual speed could be on the far side of c (because FTL neutrinos are unpossible!).

The deck seems stacked pretty heavily against a tachyonic neutrino, but I'll cross my fingers anyway -- because I mean, hell, wouldn't it be cool? 8)
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:16 pm

For those of you who are so inclined: Here's the preprint of their article: http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.4897v1 which I have yet to read.

I certainly agree with everyone that we need to be skeptical. In fact, I had a decidedly negative emotional reaction when I first read the claim (even though emotional reactions to scientific claims are never very sensible, even if they turn out to be correct on the underlying issue).
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:05 pm

Ethan Siegel (theoretical astrophysicist) has few great blog posts regarding this, here (Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence), and here (Are we fooling ourselves with faster-than-light neutrinos).

And if anyone is interested in the original paper you can get it here ---> Measurement of the neutrino velocity with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam Edit: woops, didn't see that Common Sensei had already linked to this.

Edit: Sorry, I also wanted to point out that we already knew that the general and special theories of relativity are not a GUT, as it does not take into account gravity. We know that there is more to the story of reality then that. I think it's just fine that we are finding that we know less and less about more and more.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:43 pm

Here's a question and I'm sorry if I'm repeating this, since I merely skimmed over some of the posts:

If the Neutrino, did indeed, move faster than light...and one might surmise that, if something does, it could travel back in time...then, wouldn't the neutrino have arrived just prior, to having been fired?
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:05 pm

krazyredboy wrote:Here's a question and I'm sorry if I'm repeating this, since I merely skimmed over some of the posts:

If the Neutrino, did indeed, move faster than light...and one might surmise that, if something does, it could travel back in time...then, wouldn't the neutrino have arrived just prior, to having been fired?


Depends on how far back in time it traveled.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:12 pm

krazyredboy wrote:If the Neutrino, did indeed, move faster than light...and one might surmise that, if something does, it could travel back in time...then, wouldn't the neutrino have arrived just prior, to having been fired?

Only if it travels back in time farther than the time it takes to reach its destination.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:23 pm

just brew it! wrote:While it is certainly *possible* that this result is real, I'm not convinced that it isn't some form of measurement error.


To be fair, the gist of the original article that was published by the researchers was that they found a strange result and were trying to figure out what they measured wrong. The whole "physics is wrong" thing has mostly come from the media.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:02 pm

So since neutrinos have a mass so close to zero they are able to travel very very close to the speed of light, and if the readings are right, they arrived before they were expected. Earlier than light would arrive at. So either Einstein was wrong and you don't need infinite energy to reach the speed of light for anything with mass, there is an error in the readings, or there is some sort of spatial distortion compressing the distance the neutrinos have travelled?

I find the first and last possibilities interesting in their implications, but I find the middle explanation the most likely. Will be keeping an eye on it through. Very interesting stuff!
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:38 am

From what I remember of the Slashdot comments, the error is equivalent to 30cm in the 730km between where the neutrinos are created and where they are detected. Someone posted that it also matched neglecting to take account of the slower speed of light in air rather than vacuum for GPS signals coming through the atmosphere.

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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:34 am

notfred wrote:From what I remember of the Slashdot comments, the error is equivalent to 30cm in the 730km between where the neutrinos are created and where they are detected. Someone posted that it also matched neglecting to take account of the slower speed of light in air rather than vacuum for GPS signals coming through the atmosphere.

I'm going for missing systematic error, anyone want to bet? http://xkcd.com/955/



The neutrinos are getting there about 60 nanoseconds early which translates to roughly 60 ft. If you throw in the error bars they calculated it can be down to more like 40 ft. It's still hard for me to believe a research group of this caliber would publish those findings with out being absolutely positive they triple checked the numbers; but I'm still skeptical. The other problem with this experiment is, it is not the first time this has been tested. Others have done this before and not gotten results that break physics "laws". That said, there are a lot of accepted theories that do allow for faster then light travel; however, the results are discounted as unphysical. It will be interesting to see what happens when others test these results.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:51 am

sironomus wrote:
notfred wrote:From what I remember of the Slashdot comments, the error is equivalent to 30cm in the 730km between where the neutrinos are created and where they are detected. Someone posted that it also matched neglecting to take account of the slower speed of light in air rather than vacuum for GPS signals coming through the atmosphere.

I'm going for missing systematic error, anyone want to bet? http://xkcd.com/955/



The neutrinos are getting there about 60 nanoseconds early which translates to roughly 60 ft. If you throw in the error bars they calculated it can be down to more like 40 ft. It's still hard for me to believe a research group of this caliber would publish those findings with out being absolutely positive they triple checked the numbers; but I'm still skeptical. The other problem with this experiment is, it is not the first time this has been tested. Others have done this before and not gotten results that break physics "laws". That said, there are a lot of accepted theories that do allow for faster then light travel; however, the results are discounted as unphysical. It will be interesting to see what happens when others test these results.


Why would they not publish their findings? They found a result that was odd, and they've asked other people to try to replicate their results and/or discover errors in their process. That is how science is supposed to work. The only people who are talking about physics laws being broken are people in the news media (and on internet forums) who can't be bothered to read what was actually presented.
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:57 am

cphite wrote:To be fair, the gist of the original article that was published by the researchers was that they found a strange result and were trying to figure out what they measured wrong. The whole "physics is wrong" thing has mostly come from the media.



So you're saying the media overblows things just so they have something to fill their 24 hour news cycle?

I'm shocked and appalled I tell you. Shocked and appalled. ;)
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Re: Huge Physics News

Postposted on Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:10 am

travbrad wrote:
cphite wrote:To be fair, the gist of the original article that was published by the researchers was that they found a strange result and were trying to figure out what they measured wrong. The whole "physics is wrong" thing has mostly come from the media.



So you're saying the media overblows things just so they have something to fill their 24 hour news cycle?

I'm shocked and appalled I tell you. Shocked and appalled. ;)


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