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Speed of Light Broken by Scientists: Are Laws of Physics Crumbling?

( [email protected] ) Sep 25, 2011 11:15 AM EDT
The laws of physics as the world’s greatest scientists understand them appear to have been broken as an experiment has shown subatomic particles traveling at speeds greater than the speed of light.
A scientist at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin, near Geneva. Reuters/Denis Balibouse

The laws of physics as the world’s greatest scientists understand them appear to have been broken as an experiment has shown subatomic particles traveling at speeds greater than the speed of light.

The laboratory results from Cern, whoch is the home of the LHC, have dumbfounded physicists in Europe and they have now made their results public in the hope that other scientists can shed light on the "crazy" statistics they have stumbled upon.

In the experiment neutrinos were sent through the ground from Cern toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km (approx. 455 miles) away. However, scientists have been left speechless as the neutrinos arrived early.

When calculated, the neutrinos were found to have traveled faster than the speed of light to have arrived at their destination in that time.

The results seemingly turn the current laws of physics as we understand them on their head.

The group immediately announced it is being very cautious about its claims, according to the BBC.

Report author Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration told the BBC: “We tried to find all possible explanations for this. We wanted to find a mistake - trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects.”

“And we didn't,” he added.

The speed of light has been understood to be the ultimate speed limit according to modern physics, as laid out in Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. In other words the laws of physics as we understand them are built on the foundation that nothing can exceed the speed of light.

Until now, nothing has been proven to travel at a speed faster than light.

However, whilst carrying out their experiments, the researchers noticed that particles were showing up at their destination a few billionths of a second sooner than light would over the same distance, the BBC has reported.

The researchers measured the neutrinos approximately 15,000 times, and with their confirmed statistics from their experiment could now be counted as a “formal discovery.”

Dr Ereditato told the BBC: “My dream would be that another, independent experiment finds the same thing - then I would be relieved.”

He added: “We are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result - because it is crazy. And of course the consequences can be very serious.”