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Entries in Theory of Relativity (1)

Friday
Sep232011

Is Albert Einstein Wrong? Neutrinos May Be Faster than Light

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GENEVA) -- Albert Einstein's theory of relativity -- which has proved remarkably durable since he first proposed it in 1905 -- said that the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) had to be something of a cosmic speed limit.

But now a team of scientists at CERN, the giant particle accelerator physicists use in the Alps on the French-Swiss border, say they have conducted an experiment in which neutrinos -- subatomic particles with no electric charge -- traveled slightly faster than photons, the particles that make up light beams.

If they’re right, it’s a big deal in the physics world -- but that’s a big if.

“The feeling that most people have is this can’t be right, this can’t be real,” said James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN.

Physicists will now be poring over the report of the experiment, many of them saying they’re fascinated by the findings, but also inclined to be skeptical.

“We’d be thrilled if it’s right because we love something that shakes the foundation of what we believe,” said Columbia University physicist Brian Greene.  “That’s what we live for.”

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