27 Sep, 2011 03:25 PMA United States government agency is set to test the results of a faster-than-light particles discovery that shocked the physics world and led to dreams of time travel and extra dimensions when announced last week.The new tests could show Albert Einstein's theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light may in fact be sound after all.
Scientists from Fermilab, a US Department of Energy laboratory in Chicago, said they were re-analysing data collected in the OPERA experiment by the CERN research institute in Switzerland, which showed invisible neutrino particles travelled faster than light, a spokesman for the agency told Fairfax today.
Fermilab conducted a similar experiment - MINOS - in 2007, but its results allowed for a margin of error that made it unclear if neutrinos were indeed travelling faster than light.
"We're updating the [MINOS] to measure more precisely the time that it takes the neutrinos to travel from Fermilab to the detector in Minnesota," spokesman Dr Kurt Riesselmann said.
"The experiment will also take new data in the upcoming year and analyse those, and hope to improve the position to confirm or refute the OPERA result."
Was Einstein wrong?
Scientists across the world, and even at CERN - home of the Large Hadron Collider - have been sceptical about the OPERA finding, which challenges Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity.
Einstein, the father of modern physics, said the speed of light was a "cosmic constant" and nothing could go faster.
The OPERA measurements, if independently confirmed, mean that in theory, information could be sent into the past, making time travel possible.
"Time travel seems to be the go-to topic when faster-than-light particles are mentioned, but don't hold out hope for a TARDIS just yet," physicist Dr Jonathan Carroll at the University of Adelaide wrote on The Conversation website.
But he said it was more likely the OPERA finding was the result of a mistake in the calculations or experiment.
"The much more likely scenario is that the analysis has overlooked some seemingly insignificant but critical aspect, and that re-analysis will led to a very good agreement with the speed of light," he said.
"Should that be the case, the follow-up press-release will no doubt refer to the 'Phantom of the OPERA'."
Another physicist likened the CERN discovery to flying carpets, saying: "This is ridiculous what they're putting out."
"Until this is verified by another group, it's flying carpets," Professor Drew Baden at the University of Maryland told The Associated Press.
....The Canberra Times
Interesting subject, guys...
Have a nice day...