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Possible neutrinos travel faster than light


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#1 irreversible   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1243

Posted 26 September 2011 - 05:00 AM

This is not a recent development, but the news becoming public regarding this is very fresh.

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To recap: the Italians placed the speed of the neutrino marginally above the speed of light.

The speed of light is one of the cornerstones of the theory of relativity, which in turn is one of the fundamental cornerstones of life as we know it today. The results so far haven't been verified and aren't therefore conclusive. However the scientists involved have probably taken more care than most coders out there to make sure their results are as legit as possible. In that they have analyzed these results over three years and at this time there simply is no other explanation. The results may be confirmed or disproved rather soon by two other independent parties (see articles).

It is probably safe to say that if they happened to confirm the results, relativity itself could take a position similar to what Newtonian physics was forced to take a century ago - as a passing stage between sticks and stones and a theory of everything. It would also rattle the cage we live in very unexpected ways. For instance, sending information back (and possibly forth) in time might all of a sudden become a practical problem rather than a theoretical one.

In other words, if these results were to be confirmed, we could be in for quite a ride.

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#2 Lode   Members   -  Reputation: 980

Posted 26 September 2011 - 05:35 AM

I'd really love to see this confirmed, it'd be really interesting, and a great breakthrough in physics models! There are already so many mathematical models, this could throw many away and generate new ones :)

Maybe the "time" dimension works differently than we think, and since speed is time and distance related, weird properties of the time dimension can have an effect on lightspeed. Well, just making stuff up here, I'm not a physicist :)

But I can't say whether it's actually true or not until it has been confirmed over, and over, and over again, in different setups and locations.

#3 dysphoric   Members   -  Reputation: 148

Posted 26 September 2011 - 05:54 AM

It's possible that the mass of the neutrino has been misgauged. We have proved that energy with a negative mass can exist (see: Negative energy) through experimentation. If negative energy is possible to produce then particles with a negative mass exist. If a neutrino actually had a negative mass, it would theoretically be able to travel faster than the speed of light without changing the current models of physics.

#4 Lode   Members   -  Reputation: 980

Posted 26 September 2011 - 05:57 AM

Does anyone know through what these particles got sent? Do they just go through rock over this whole distance?

EDIT: Got the answer. Neutrinos travel through atoms unhindered.

Edited by Lode, 27 September 2011 - 08:03 AM.


#5 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 26 September 2011 - 07:49 AM

EVERY SCIENTIFIC LIE IN STAR TREK IS ACTUALLY TRUE! D:

#6 Erik Rufelt   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3198

Posted 26 September 2011 - 07:50 AM

Chuck Norris decided to throw the particles over the mountains, which also explains the results.
Either that or they went through a vacuum tube..

#7 Eelco   Members   -  Reputation: 301

Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:11 AM

It would also rattle the cage we live in very unexpected ways. For instance, sending information back (and possibly forth) in time might all of a sudden become a practical problem rather than a theoretical one.

In other words, if these results were to be confirmed, we could be in for quite a ride.


Let me preempt a few pages of rambling nonsense: no, that 'might' not happen by any reasonable interpretation of the word 'might'. Relativity never even hinted at the possibility of time travel (im affraid you are confusing relativity theory and science fiction), and neither will whatever theory comes out of this. All we know theoretically and experimentally is that one can put a damper on the passage of time; nowhere is it implied that one can qualitatively change the arrow of time, infact relativity theory explicitly requires this cannot be done, and this experiment doesnt change a single thing about that fact.

The core ideas behind relativity will remain firmly standing of course, notwithstanding sensationalism to the contrary. This result is entirely consistent with the notion of a fundamental speed limit to propagation through the vacuum; and all this entails, ie the core tennets of relativity theory. Perhaps just like most particles, photons dont quite reach that maximum speed. The vacuum is to photons less 'empty' than to neutrinos, since a photon would interact much more strongly with whatever there does be, in terms of quantum fluctuations or trace amounts of particles, so it makes sense from that point of view; if mass isnt the only interaction to hinder a particle from moving through the vacuum at full speed, then neutrinos would be a good contender to photons for the candidate of fastest particle, since they are very light indeed and barely interact with anything at all, as opposed to the rather promiscuous photons.

The upheaval will mainly be theoretical rather than practical. String theory or other hubristic frameworks which start out by taking the speed of light as an axiomatic property are all in rather deep trouble if this will be confirmed.

#8 Telgin   Members   -  Reputation: 200

Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:26 AM

I too would love for this to be confirmed, because that would open up the future for quite a lot more science and understanding of our universe. Not that I suspect we're running out of ideas on how to improve our understanding, but jarring results like this are always fun.

I just don't see it happening, really. It's such an unlikely thing to be true, given what we know. And since it's only happened in one instance that we've set up, I strongly suspect that it's really just a fluke in the experiment. Not being a quantum physicist, I can't begin to conjecture what they messed up, but that's definitely where I'd start with the finger pointing.

Of course, it would be amazing if we did end up discovering a way to communicate FTL or develop FTL drives based on this somehow, but that's a pretty lofty hope indeed. :)
Success requires no explanation. Failure allows none.

#9 dysphoric   Members   -  Reputation: 148

Posted 26 September 2011 - 09:47 AM

It would also rattle the cage we live in very unexpected ways. For instance, sending information back (and possibly forth) in time might all of a sudden become a practical problem rather than a theoretical one.

In other words, if these results were to be confirmed, we could be in for quite a ride.


Let me preempt a few pages of rambling nonsense: no, that 'might' not happen by any reasonable interpretation of the word 'might'. Relativity never even hinted at the possibility of time travel (im affraid you are confusing relativity theory and science fiction), and neither will whatever theory comes out of this. All we know theoretically and experimentally is that one can put a damper on the passage of time; nowhere is it implied that one can qualitatively change the arrow of time, infact relativity theory explicitly requires this cannot be done, and this experiment doesnt change a single thing about that fact.

The core ideas behind relativity will remain firmly standing of course, notwithstanding sensationalism to the contrary. This result is entirely consistent with the notion of a fundamental speed limit to propagation through the vacuum; and all this entails, ie the core tennets of relativity theory. Perhaps just like most particles, photons dont quite reach that maximum speed. The vacuum is to photons less 'empty' than to neutrinos, since a photon would interact much more strongly with whatever there does be, in terms of quantum fluctuations or trace amounts of particles, so it makes sense from that point of view; if mass isnt the only interaction to hinder a particle from moving through the vacuum at full speed, then neutrinos would be a good contender to photons for the candidate of fastest particle, since they are very light indeed and barely interact with anything at all, as opposed to the rather promiscuous photons.

The upheaval will mainly be theoretical rather than practical. String theory or other hubristic frameworks which start out by taking the speed of light as an axiomatic property are all in rather deep trouble if this will be confirmed.



Uh, Photons do too reach the maximum speed of light.....Photons are massless particles that move unhindered because gravity only exerts a pull upon things with mass....since it has no mass gravity can't slow it down and so it travels at the maximum speed of the universe.

Also, its possible to travel faster than the speed of light by using negative energy to bend spacetime.... therefore it is possible that the neutrino possibly has the effect of bending spacetime or it consists of a negative mass.

#10 irreversible   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1243

Posted 26 September 2011 - 09:57 AM

Eelco, it's not my intention to postempt your preemption, but I'd just like to point out that the notion of time travel could be far more elusive if this were to be true. If the bulk of information is limited to light speed and regular matter is bound by that limit as such, then for all intents and purposes a particle that travels faster than light is travelling back in time. I do not claim that time travel is possible, which is why I wrote: "It would also rattle the cage we live in very unexpected ways". IF harnessing this were possible in practice, then sending bits of information doesn't necessarily amount to time travel in a traditional sense.


Also, while I'm not too well versed on the topic of neutrinos, it is my understanding that they are not that well understood themselves. Based on this I have to assume that it might not be possible to use neutrinos to carry information so much as they are relics that simply are. I don't think Relativity Theory is in any danger of being debunked. Neither do I think the Standard Model is or String Theory are for that matter - while String Theory is a topic in and of itself, there hasn't been a case in history where either the Standard Model or Relativity Theory, when applicable, has fallen flat on its chest. Yet, the Standard Model is literally missing its most important component. If this implies anything, then it is that we're not wrong, but we're rather just not there yet.


Regarding time travel - I mentioned nothing about the arrow of time. Also, on a side note - it might be an interesting dabble into science fiction to open another topic and try and fantasize what the arrow of time actually is and why we perceive it the way we do. Because I don't believe anyone really has an idea.


>> The upheaval will mainly be theoretical rather than practical.


Let's agree to disagree in that I prefer to remain more hopeful and wouldn't put something as fundamental past the next potential great discovery just yet, even if the discovery itself might be postponed beyond my lifetime. Although, I do agree that there doesn't seem to be much practicality in this at face value.


At the end of the day, though, the guys at the lab went public with this because they couldn't figure this out on their own. They could be poking out their left eye tomorrow morning when some 13 year old points out that they'd accidentally switched their gear to imperial instead of metric when someone spilled their morning coffee.

#11 dysphoric   Members   -  Reputation: 148

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:09 AM

Eelco, it's not my intention to postempt your preemption, but I'd just like to point out that the notion of time travel could be far more elusive if this were to be true. If the bulk of information is limited to light speed and regular matter is bound by that limit as such, then for all intents and purposes a particle that travels faster than light is travelling back in time. I do not claim that time travel is possible, which is why I wrote: "It would also rattle the cage we live in very unexpected ways". IF harnessing this were possible in practice, then sending bits of information doesn't necessarily amount to time travel in a traditional sense.


Also, while I'm not too well versed on the topic of neutrinos, it is my understanding that they are not that well understood themselves. Based on this I have to assume that it might not be possible to use neutrinos to carry information so much as they are relics that simply are. I don't think Relativity Theory is in any danger of being debunked. Neither do I think the Standard Model is or String Theory are for that matter - while String Theory is a topic in and of itself, there hasn't been a case in history where either the Standard Model or Relativity Theory, when applicable, has fallen flat on its chest. Yet, the Standard Model is literally missing its most important component. If this implies anything, then it is that we're not wrong, but we're rather just not there yet.


Regarding time travel - I mentioned nothing about the arrow of time. Also, on a side note - it might be an interesting dabble into science fiction to open another topic and try and fantasize what the arrow of time actually is and why we perceive it the way we do. Because I don't believe anyone really has an idea.


>> The upheaval will mainly be theoretical rather than practical.


Let's agree to disagree in that I prefer to remain more hopeful and wouldn't put something as fundamental past the next potential great discovery just yet, even if the discovery itself might be postponed beyond my lifetime. Although, I do agree that there doesn't seem to be much practicality in this at face value.


At the end of the day, though, the guys at the lab went public with this because they couldn't figure this out on their own. They could be poking out their left eye tomorrow morning when some 13 year old points out that they'd accidentally switched their gear to imperial instead of metric when someone spilled their morning coffee.


If a neutrino were traveling faster than light, it doesnt mean that its traveling backwards in time. Time is not a real, its a manmade concept. Our concept of Time moves at the speed of light so if anything it would be moving forward in time at a faster rate than the universe itself.

I'm sticking with my negative mass concept. Possitive mass gets pulled by gravity. The more mass the more it gets pulled and the slower it becomes. At 0 mass (photon) there is no pull or exertion and so it is allowed to travel unhindered. If you apply negative mass, instead of gravity pulling, it would push. If you push something thats already traveling at the speed of light it would travel faster, logically.

However its not possible for a particle with positive mass to travel at the speed of light. The universe actually slows what we call time down when approaching the speed of light so that it remains impossible to achieve. Instead we can move objects and a very close fraction to the speed of light.

#12 SiS-Shadowman   Members   -  Reputation: 359

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:16 AM

Uh, Photons do too reach the maximum speed of light.....Photons are massless particles that move unhindered because gravity only exerts a pull upon things with mass....


That's not true. Photons DO have a mass, however they don't have a rest mass (I hope this is the right word, in german it's called "Ruhemasse"). If photons had no mass then light could not be bent, however it is possible in extremely strong gravitational fields. These kinds of distortions are actually used to detect black holes (the quiet ones ;) ).

*edit*

I can't find an english source, but this (beware, german) is what I'm talking about. But according to that source, "bewegte masse" (moving mass, or something like that) just seems to be another word for energy. It renders my comment somewhat pointless :)



#13 irreversible   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1243

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:27 AM

If a neutrino were traveling faster than light, it doesnt mean that its traveling backwards in time. Time is not a real, its a manmade concept. Our concept of Time moves at the speed of light so if anything it would be moving forward in time at a faster rate than the universe itself.


You're right - time is not real: it's part of something more fundamental called spacetime. Passage through spacetime happens at constant speed (an increase in velocity is only possible at the account giving up velocity of passage through time) according to currently accepted theory. If the neutrino violates this limit then it violates the most fundamental physical limitation there is and in this case would effectively travel back in time.


Consider this where the x-axis is velocity through space and the y-axis is velocity through time. By maximizing your velocity through space you minimize your velocity through time. At a certain point (light speed) you reach a limit where time literally comes to a standstill. According Special Relativity nothing can travel underneath the horizontal axis, which is precisely what happens when you cross this threshold.

Posted Image



#14 dysphoric   Members   -  Reputation: 148

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:32 AM


Uh, Photons do too reach the maximum speed of light.....Photons are massless particles that move unhindered because gravity only exerts a pull upon things with mass....


That's not true. Photons DO have a mass, however they don't have a rest mass (I hope this is the right word, in german it's called "Ruhemasse"). If photons had no mass then light could not be bent, however it is possible in extremely strong gravitational fields. These kinds of distortions are actually used to detect black holes (the quiet ones ;) ).

*edit*

I can't find an english source, but this (beware, german) is what I'm talking about. But according to that source, "bewegte masse" (moving mass, or something like that) just seems to be another word for energy. It renders my comment somewhat pointless :)




Thats such a contradictory statement. How can a photon have no resting mass? When is a photon standing still? In order to slow a photon down it would have to have mass..... I think newtonian gravity is flawed.

#15 tstrimple   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1718

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:34 AM

Posted Image

#16 Discount_Flunky   Members   -  Reputation: 102

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:34 AM

snip


What are you talking about the theory of relatively does talk about time and therefore time travel. According to the theory of relatively the faster something travels the slower time passes for that object. Also the higher the gravity around an object the slower time passes for it. Therefore if you travel faster than the speed of light, according to the equation, you would go backwards in time. The notion of time travel was originally proposed by scientist studying relatively, not science fiction writers. Now you are right in saying that it if this is thing about neutrinos is true it doesn't mean that time travel is anymore possible because it only applies to neutrinos.

You also bring up another good point in that neutrinos might go faster than photos because photos are attracted to some many things which causes them to slow down. If this is the case then all that means it that the speed of light is slightly faster than we thought it was before, which would only slightly alter the results of any equation using the speed of light in it.



#17 Tachikoma   Members   -  Reputation: 552

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:34 AM

For these sort of news, I think it's best to check out the official CERN Press release on this subject, or the actual paper detailing the experiment and the results, and for the lazy, here is a web cast, with one of the scientist discussing and defending the aforementioned paper (it's long). Pay attention to comments during question time, it's very interesting.

In a nutshell, the authors were not making any deductions, assumptions, nor any theoretical assertions about what was observed. The paper simply described the methodology, discussed the results, and left open for scrutiny. No doubt, the experiment will be dissected in great detail.

I'm betting there is probably a systematic error somewhere in the experiment which skewed the results.
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#18 Discount_Flunky   Members   -  Reputation: 102

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:42 AM


Uh, Photons do too reach the maximum speed of light.....Photons are massless particles that move unhindered because gravity only exerts a pull upon things with mass....


That's not true. Photons DO have a mass, however they don't have a rest mass (I hope this is the right word, in german it's called "Ruhemasse"). If photons had no mass then light could not be bent, however it is possible in extremely strong gravitational fields. These kinds of distortions are actually used to detect black holes (the quiet ones ;) ).

*edit*

I can't find an english source, but this (beware, german) is what I'm talking about. But according to that source, "bewegte masse" (moving mass, or something like that) just seems to be another word for energy. It renders my comment somewhat pointless :)




Photons don't have mass. They are bent by black holes because space time is warped by black holes. What you are refering to is an increase in kinetic engery.

#19 dysphoric   Members   -  Reputation: 148

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:44 AM


If a neutrino were traveling faster than light, it doesnt mean that its traveling backwards in time. Time is not a real, its a manmade concept. Our concept of Time moves at the speed of light so if anything it would be moving forward in time at a faster rate than the universe itself.


You're right - time is not real: it's part of something more fundamental called spacetime. Passage through spacetime happens at constant speed (an increase in velocity is only possible at the account giving up velocity of passage through time) according to currently accepted theory. If the neutrino violates this limit then it violates the most fundamental physical limitation there is and in this case would effectively travel back in time.


Consider this where the x-axis is velocity through space and the y-axis is velocity through time. By maximizing your velocity through space you minimize your velocity through time. At a certain point (light speed) you reach a limit where time literally comes to a standstill. According Special Relativity nothing can travel underneath the horizontal axis, which is precisely what happens when you cross this threshold.

Posted Image


Yeah that makes sense except the fact that you'd travel backwards in time. If you traveled faster than the speed of light from point A to point B then you'd arive before a wave of light traveling the same distance at the same time. If we apply that to spacetime, then you'd arive at a point in time faster than the rest of spacetime, thus traveling foward into the future.

Edit: Okay no...Sorry Im an idiot and I need sleep lol. If you arrive at a point before it happened then you're effectively traveling backwards. Duh. Forget my other statement.

#20 Tachikoma   Members   -  Reputation: 552

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:57 AM

One way to visualise how light is affected by gravity, imagine space time is like a flow of a tide or a medium and you are trying to go against it. At some point the tide is going to so fast that you can not counter it at your maximum speed, therefore you are swept with it... into a black hole.
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