Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Still Faster Than Light

Like an Earth-centered cosmos, a fixed speed of light is a scientific edifice that shows signs of cracking. Neutrinos are mysterious particles that pass through matter nearly undisturbed. Millions of them pass through our bodies each second. Wolfgang Pauli first predicted their existence in 1930, but his prediction was so revolutionary that he did not present it until the Solvang conference in 1933. Not until 1956 was the existence of Pauli's neutrinos proven. Recently neutrinos were found to transform between their three flavours spontaneously.

In September the OPERA collaboration reported that neutrinos have been clocked traveling slightly faster than light, Neutrinos Pass Through Light Barrier. This result challenges the Physics we read in books, that nothing travels faster than light. Fortunately, neutrinos don't read books.

Other physicists have challenged the OPERA results, but in a new set of experiments this month the group verified their findings. Some of the OPERA group would not put their name on the initial report, but their doubts have slowly been erased. zmore tests by other groups will be needed to prove the superluminal neutrinos. As readers of this blog know, there is a body of evidence that light itself slows with time. The speed-of-light barrier is slowly breaking down.