Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Faster than Light Fiasco

If you haven’t been marooned on a desert island over the past few weeks since 23 September, you will have no doubt heard the media reports of neutrinos breaking the speed of light.
This has got everyone quite excited, as it would mean that Einstein’s theory of relativity is wrong, and therefore a large part of physics has been brought into question.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) sent out a press release on 23 September about the OPERA1 experiment, which observes a neutrino beam from CERN2 730 km away at Italy’s INFN Gran Sasso Laboratory. They stated:

“The OPERA result is based on the observation of over 15000 neutrino events measured at Gran Sasso, and appears to indicate that the neutrinos travel at a velocity 20 parts per million above the speed of light, nature’s cosmic speed limit. Given the potential far-reaching consequences of such a result, independent measurements are needed before the effect can either be refuted or firmly established. This is why the OPERA collaboration has decided to open the result to broader scrutiny.”

Given the wording, it is a bit disappointing that the media has seized on it in the way it has. But CERN is probably equally to blame for sending out a press release when it is almost certain that the results are wrong. At no time have the researchers stated that neutrinos move faster than light. All they have said is that their measurement shows a reading greater than the speed of light, and further confirmation is required.

Although there are various assurances regarding the accuracy of the measurement, a measurement error or systematic effect still seems a likely explanation. As neutrino experiments are well known for being very hard to perform, the chances of a measurement error would appear to be far more likely than relativity theory being wrong. A claim of such extraordinary magnitude requires extraordinary evidence.

However, theoretical physicist Heinrich Päs of the Technical University Dortmund in Germany says it is possible that spacetime could be warped in such a way that allows neutrinos to take a shortcut without actually travelling faster than the speed of light. He goes on to state that, “if something moves faster than the speed of light, causality violations—aka time travel—may be a possibility”.

Another theory offered relates to quantum tunnelling after a neutrino’s properties change. If neutrinos that did not change flavour travel at the speed of light, and the neutrinos that did change flavour arrived an extremely small amount faster, then tunnelling may have occurred. If the distance is the Planck length or less, then perhaps the new flavour of neutrino left the Planck length area of the transition at the same time the old flavour of neutrino arrived. A virtual particle allows the neutrino to jump a Planck length. This apparently happens all the time when electrons tunnel through semiconductors (like the ones in your computer).
So far relativity theory and the cosmic speed limit set by light have survived all the challenges thrown at them, so such a challenge to them needs to be taken with a great many grains of salt until it has been properly tested.

The fact is that the OPERA finding doesn’t even fit with known facts. We observed the neutrinos from supernova 1987A arrive at the time the explosion was seen in the sky. The revised speed would mean that we would have observed them three and a half years earlier.

It seems likely that the observation will be explained as a simple goof (e.g. instrument error), or as an interesting phenomenon in which nothing goes faster than the speed of light but sometimes something appears to, due to some reason we are yet to discover.
To have a look at the scientific paper with the results, go to http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.4897
This article (and the one prior) were published in the Newsletter for the Phoenix Astronomical Society. (link to right).


  1. Rodney Kawecki • What happen about microseconds?
    To be able for a mass to travel faster than light the mass itself must act as a conductor from which its frame or body is repulsive. In vacuum graviton's act on moving bodies no matter what their velocity or size. Graviton's push a positive mass away as a natural resistance in space the same way it makes planets rotate relative with their mass. The larger than mass body the slower the mass rotates over the fabric of space. This is because a mass after a specific point its weight compensates and acts against the graviton groupies that can no longer meet the requirements to push on the mass harder. The idea here is to be able to make graviton particle mass groupies to massively bombard a ship mass and to increase its repulsive push by attracting more graviton particle membrane towards our ship's body mass in the same way Alcubierre warp drive forms a wave with the fabric but in this case a graviton particle processor that attracts a multitude of graviton repulsive membrane to the rear of the ship mass this is what slow drags the fabric energy behind the ship and forms the wave.

    You can think of this as the speed that space-time reacts to small changes in the energy-momentum content.

    Gravitons are the quanta of these ripples. You can argue that gravitons are massless spin-2 fields. The massless part means that they travel at the speed of light. if gravity is indeed the bending of space time are gravitons even needed ? Consider the Earth orbits the Sun by constantly being attracted to it, yet it takes light from the Sun 8 minutes to get to Earth.

    Consider also that if a galaxy is 100,000 light years across it would take 100,000 years for light to get across it. Now consider that gravity is holding the galaxy together therefore making me conclude that gravity is instantaneously holding the galaxy together across the entire 100,000 light years of distance.

    So is gravity faster than the speed of light? We look at gravity as the fabric that holds matter in a specific place like water in a lake with no spoiler. It is the tension on the fabric that bends in the presents of the matter - graviton affects matter lifting the burden off the fabric element thus pushing it away graviton's are reinforced energy particles stimulating from a deeper origin inside the universe's fabric 3D balloon. Since the universe is made up mostly of larger planetary bodies called galaxies the interior between the galaxies through a cross 3D sectioning of the bubble is what twist the galactic masses in the same manner as a north pole pushed against another positive north pole will push both entities to curve.

    Since this is precisely the case of The Hubble Model - it is the fabric that will curl into a wave when an impression of pressure is pushed on the fabric. Graviton's are our universe's way of not having to use gravity instead by using lesser graviton particles to slow down a velocity in space.

    It is impossible for any object to achieve the speed of light by a mechanical acceleration, which, indeed, makes going faster than light also impossible by such means. Suppose we try to accelerate an object of rest mass, m, that's traveling at a velocity, v, up to the speed of light, c— what happens? We can't do it because we would need an infinite amount of energy says Einstein, as the relativistic energy equation (left) shows: When v = c, the energy, E, required is infinite. The problem here in the question is problematics...meaning having to do with equal math not mass....v has no mass at all therefore it can not formulate with c which does have mass but that doesn't mean c can't be pushed faster than c...does it? In Einstein's equations v has a limit from e energy, which means e is limited by v - all the energy in the world cant exceed c.

  2. Neo-Classical Physics or Quantum Mechanics ? Puts forward an electromagnetic Universe....