Nothing can excite physicists more than a violation of Albert Einstein’s theory.
Scientists of an experiment in Italy announced last Thursday that they measured neutrinos, sub-atomic particles, going faster than light, according to news reports.
It obviously challenges Einstein’s special relativity, which says the speed of light is a “cosmic constant” and nothing in the universe can travel faster.
In the experiment named OPERA, run jointly by the CERN particle research centre near Geneva, Switzerland and the Gran Sasso Laboratory in central Italy, neutrinos were emanated from CERN and picked up by giant detectors in Gran Sassog, 731 kilometers away.
To cover such a distance, light would take 2.4 thousandths of a second, whereas the neutrinos took 60 nanoseconds, or 60 billionths of a second, less, according to a Reuters report.
“It is a tiny difference,” said Antonio Ereditato, spokesman for the researchers and also researcher at Berne University in Switzerland, “but conceptually it is incredibly important. “
The implication of the discovery is sensational. If the finding is proven to be true, in other words, the light-speed barrier could be overcome, time travel might not only exit in science fiction, but also be possible in reality.
But most physicists were skeptical about the discovery.
Physicists gathered at the CERN meeting in the wake of the announcement doubted the way they measured the distance between CERN and Gran Sasso Laboratory.
Detailed questions like whether they took into account the location of the moon and tidal bulges in the Earth’s crust were raised, according to a New York Times report.
It is still too early to jump to conclusions. Further scrutiny to the discovery should be undertaken.