|New findings may dethrone Einstein’s theory of special relativity|
|Written by John Schuller, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Sunday, 02 October 2011 19:23|
Italian scientists may have discovered a particle that travels faster than the speed of light
Recently in a lab underneath the Grand Central Mountains in Italy, a team of scientists may have discovered a particle that travels faster than the speed of light.
This particle, called a neutrino, is very small, about a millionth of a mass of an electron, and is present in the real world without anyone ever noticing. A source of neutrinos is even from the potassium in a banana.
Scientists working in Italy were conducting an experiment involving sending these neutrinos around a particle accelerator, when they realized that the speed they were clocked at came up to be slightly faster than the speed of light.
“If this is true, it [will] rock the foundation of physics in general,” Kurt Riesselmann, head of the Office of Public Information at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, said.
According to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which is the foundation for almost all of modern physics, there is not an object that can travel faster than the speed of light. So if this finding is confirmed as true, Einstein’s iconic theory will have to be revisited.
“There has to be an independent check, someone else has to reproduce the same result,” Hiroshi Matsuoka, associate professor of physics, said.
In order for this finding to become the basis for the foundation of physics, several checks need to be done to prove this is correct, and the odds are not on neutrino’s side. Einstein’s theory has held up to all scrutiny thus far.
This experiment that resulted in finding faster-than-light particles has been done before without that result. Four years ago, scientists at Fermilab, based out of Warrenville, measured the speed of neutrinos and found no conclusion that they were traveling faster than the speed of light.
According to Riesselmann, there have been many improvements in the equipment used to measure neutrinos, a possibility that new equipment might yield new results.
“Neutrinos have surprised us many times before,” Riesselmann said.
But Riesselmann does not give in to the new finding just yet.
“When a study of a supernova was conducted, it showed that the light particles and the neutrino particles arrived at about the same time, if neutrinos travel faster why didn’t they arrive a day or two earlier?” Riesselmann said.
If the finding is proven right or wrong, it is up to the physics community to find out by checking the results and reproducing the experiment. Scientists at Fermilab are going to be some of the scientists that are spearheading that effort.
Despite the mounds of skepticism if this finding will indeed hold to be true, Matsuoka said, “I am open for any new discovery, it would be very exciting.”
While physicists are going to be testing and retesting this new finding, it would be the best strategy to just wait and see what happens. If it does indeed find to be correct, everyone’s day-to-day life would not be affected, but the physics community and anything that uses Einstein’s theory will have to be adjusted.