The Other I

September 26, 2011

Faster than – Light?

Filed under: Intriguing Science — theotheri @ 4:05 pm

Physicists at the Cern reactor in Geneva and at the underground facility of Italy’s Gran Sasso National Laboratory seem to have observed the impossible.

Particles sent from Geneva to the facility in Italy seem to have arrived faster than the speed of light.

Well, so what?

So what is that if anything in the entire universe can travel faster than light, the very foundations of our understanding of the physical world are profoundly shaken.  Our very understanding of causality begins to fall apart.  And useful as it may be to get us around the universe, Einstein’s theory, based on the unquestionable assumption that nothing can, ever has, or ever will, travel faster than light, is deeply flawed.

Of course, scientists are not absolutely sure yet about their data.  The scientists who made the original observations are asking the entire scientific community to look at their data for potential errors.  And the trials will be repeated.

In fact, they are so baffled,  many scientists fully expect some kind of glitch in the procedure to explain the apparently inexplicable.

What I personally find so wonderful about this report, though, is not that light might not be the fastest thing around.  What I love is that scientists can look at what might be an incredibly disruptive piece of evidence and not deny it.  They can’t explain it, but they are totally fascinated, and totally – if painfully – open to the possibility that this key idea which has been accepted as just about absolute for centuries and on which so much of our understanding of the universe depends, might be wrong.

That’s what I love about science.






  1. Not that I’m a knitter, but it looks like Einstein dropped a stitch, maybe.
    Luckily, we all still exist… I think


    Comment by sanstorm — September 26, 2011 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

    • Yes, just when we think the geniuses like Einstein et al. are on the edge of figuring it all, we discover that the mystery is so much greater than we ever suspected. I love it.

      Luckily, we all still exist … err, as you say – I think. Thank you for your knitting.


      Comment by Terry Sissons — September 26, 2011 @ 7:20 pm | Reply

      • My thoughts exactly – since commenting before I have been thinking about that word “mystery” and the more knowledge and experience we accumulate, the greater the profound mysteries become. And there you have written it: “mystery” – our minds are blown again!
        Unless it was a lab error. Then we can all go back to being smug 😉


        Comment by sanstorm — September 26, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

  2. Oh right,being smug! If for no other reason, I would hope it isn’t a lab error. But I have to be careful about wanting to smash the smug. It has taken great effort on my part not to actually hope the euro crashes. I know it would result in global misery and great suffering for people who were in no way responsible for setting up a system that was clear from the beginning was built on a major fault line. And the arrogant politicians who originally wouldn’t listen to anybody else and who should be held responsible are either dead or well-enough protected not to have to worry about their personal financial positions.

    Amazing given our different backgrounds and ages just how often we seem to be on the same track when it comes to fundamentals.


    Comment by theotheri — September 26, 2011 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  3. Amen.


    Comment by Chris Lawrence — September 27, 2011 @ 4:58 am | Reply

    • Chris, thank you. It’s so nice to hear from you. Terry


      Comment by theotheri — September 27, 2011 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

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