Light, don’t look back — something may be gaining on you.
A team of experimental physicists at CERN say they have measured neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light.
They beamed muon neutrinos from an accelerator at CERN outside Geneva to a detector at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, about 450 miles away, to see how many showed up as a different type, tau neutrinos. Neutrinos come in a number of types, and have recently been seen to switch spontaneously from one type to another.
The neutrinos in the experiment were detected arriving 60 nanoseconds sooner than if they’d been traveling at lightspeed.
Were they wind-assisted? Should they be tested for steroids? Well, it’s no laughing matter to scientists who depend on Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity to explain their other observations.
And this didn’t happen only once. The physicists, working on the OPERA collaboration, measured the travel times of neutrino bunches some 15,000 times, a level of statistical significance that in scientific circles would count as a formal discovery.
Stephen Parke, a theoretical particle physicist at Fermilab in Batavia, IL, suggests the findings will be explained without invalidating special relativity:
It’s possible the neutrinos’ passage hadn’t been timed accurately. Or maybe the neutrinos were traveling through different dimensions, taking shortcuts from Geneva to Gran Sasso.
Shortcuts through other dimensions? Is that a quote from Doctor Parke or Doctor Who?
My own theory is that the neutrinos were just bigger. They didn’t have to move as many times their own diameters, you see, so appeared to be going faster.
That’s a joke…
John Cramer in ANALOG saw this coming in 1993 at
The implications are vast of course, but I like especially John’s practical way of turning it into a starship drive. That’s having fun with science all right.