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Something faster than light?

September 23, 2011

We live in a place and time in which almost everyone knows or hears sometimes about some scientific concepts. You can see almost everyone knowing something about Einstein or Quantum Mechanics. One of the very established scientific concepts around is the speed of light, which everyone knows is about 300 000 km/s and that nothing can travel faster than that.

In a scientific institution also well known by general population for hosting the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the  European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), one of the experiments called Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus (OPERA) has delivered some astonishing results. The OPERA experiment was used to measure the speed of some particles called neutrinos (among other things) and they found out the neutrinos were travelling faster than the speed of light.

It may seem nothing but it’s not. If you already know why, follow the links. If you don’t know why this is a big thing, keep reading.

Some resources for your interest:


Now, what’s so important about the speed of light? Why couldn’t something be faster than light itself? Let’s see a short pointing out.

The speed of light in the vacuum, usually noted c, is a physical constant. It’s considered to be the maximum speed at which energy, matter and information can travel. It’s also the speed of massless particles and associated radiation (light, for example). Such particles and waves travel at it regardless of the inertial frame of reference for the observer. Also, in the theory of relativity it interrelates space and time.

Source: Wikipedia (23/09/2011)

In the excerpt from Wikipedia I marked two sentences. The first one relates to the mass of particles. The conclusion is that for a particle to travel at the speed of light, the particle has to have no mass so a particle that travels faster than light should have negative mass. No particle has been found with negative mass (maybe neutrinos?).

The second highlight simply points that the theory of relativity is wrong. That’s because the whole theory is based on a postulate that states that nothing can go faster than light.

There’s much more reasons related with these statements, including a supposition that faster than light travel would mean the possibility to travel (send information) back in time.

If you have some more information please comment.


From → Science

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