The boffins at CERN in Switzerland were simply trying to beam neutrinos on a 455-mile under-mountain journey to Italy, to see how many of them would reverse their state.
Well wouldn’t you know it, those pesky neutrinos arrived ahead of time. But this was no ordinary case of early. They got there faster than the speed of light.
As the BBC notes, the result “threatens to upend a century of physics.” The article points out, “The speed of light is the Universe’s ultimate speed limit, and much of modern physics - as laid out in part by Albert Einstein in his special theory of relativity - depends on the idea that nothing can exceed it.”
The CERN physicists were testing to see how many muon neutrinos would flip and arrive as tau neutrinos at Italy’s Gran Sasso laboratory.
During the 3-year experiment, the neutrinos pulled into Gran Sasso “a few billionths of a second” ahead of what the laws of physics should permit, the article states.
Antonio Ereditato, author of a report on the findings, said the CERN team is refraining from officially claiming the neutrinos traveled faster than light until other scientists can corroborate the results.
“We are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result - because it is crazy,” he told the BBC. “And of course the consequences can be very serious.”
Or fun even. Get ready to book your tickets back to the past. Presumably the Dr. Who Express will be carbon free.
Photo: Willie Williams/Wikimedia Commons
Another subatomic ditty: