Thought for the month
“The great tragedy of science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
Thomas Huxley, Scientist (1825-95).
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Thinking the unthinkable
We await the outcome of further work and data reviews as to whether neutrinos actually do cover the 732 km from CERN in Switzerland to Gran Sasso in Italy faster than the speed of light. It is difficult to fully comprehend the implications of these findings for the Special Theory of Relativity, but a large number of text books would need serious changes. Whilst history shows that nobody is infallible, betting against Einstein is not usually a good idea and many scientists remain sceptical. In 2007, MINOS scientists at the Fermilab also clocked neutrinos apparently moving faster than the speed of light, but the margin of error for that experiment was far greater than what was reported at CERN. Bad news travels fast, but perhaps Professor Close (Oxford University) is right to note that "the only thing that travels faster than light is a rumour."