Well, we can’t actually say. As it stands, the experts don’t know if their own experiments with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland have violated the laws of physics, or if their methodology is flawed. So, after three years of wayward results (where neutrinos appear to arrive in Italy before they left Switzerland?) they have turned the results over to their peers for verification or otherwise. If they are right, then Einstein is wrong, apparently.
I have read a bit about Einstein and I think a cool guy like him would take all this in his stride – ‘never lose a holy curiosity’ is one of his quotes. Not something you imagine a man who had to be right all the time saying.
The fact is that the nefarious neutrino beam in question has been consistently recorded travelling the 730 km from (a) Switzerland to (b) Italy a whole 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light, thus breaking the laws of universe and violating the Standard Model of Physics.
Professor Brian Cox was on the radio last week explaining it. Well he didn’t really explain it because it is, currently, inexplicable given all that is held to be true about physics, but he said if it is true it could be that the neutrinos are taking a shortcut through an alternative dimension.
If I were a neutrino I probably wouldn’t bother with the alternative dimension shortcut, consequently breaking the universal laws of the universe to just save myself 60 nanoseconds (in case you were wondering 1 nanosecond is one billionth of a second). After all it’s hardly enough time to scribble a postcard from the Fourth Dimension with Wish You Were Here!
The Hadron Collider fires these neutrinos, or collides them, in a beam and whilst everyone of a scientific bent sounds mind-boggled, I have read that this was one of its very functions, by design. Namely, to explore the intersection between general relativity and quantum mechanics (I got that from Wikipedia).
I find quantum mechanics easier to follow than general, or indeed special, relativity, because you don’t need to be Einstein to get it, and because there is a cat in it. And some string.
Superstring and Schrodinger’s cat. Yay.
My own wondering goes like this. The Large Hadron Collider is made by man, but it is not strictly-speaking a naturally occuring phenomenon, so if it has broken the laws of physics which Einstein based on the laws of the natural universe (as he understood them) is that such a surprise? Perhaps *relativity works most of the time, for most things. That shouldn’t preclude a machine that does something different should it? After all Star Trek had a teleporter… On the other hand the CERN scientists nanosecond clock might just be wrong.
*this may be a poor comparison, but Newton’s apple would never have fallen on his head if Lincolnshire was on the moon. Which some may say it may as well be…
**Edited to add: I had a bit of a read about the level of energy being created in the LHC and it seems there might be a bit of a clue in there. Apparently, the energy being created to smash the particles about is equivalent to that of high energy cosmic rays that are naturally created and hitting the earth’s atmosphere all the time. But, some of these high energy cosmic rays are so high energy that they also contradict the predictions of special relativity.
It’s my understanding that although these cosmic rays were discovered in 1912 by someone in a hot air balloon called Victor Hess, the really high energy ones have only been observed since the 1960s, after Einstein’s death. I might be wrong; I may be a bit lost now too. Nevertheless, these high energy cosmic rays are also subject to the same questioning as the research at CERN: are the measurements wrong? Another theory is that they originate from another galaxy. I like that one; if they did we might have to come up with some new laws called the inter-galactic laws of physics.
I’ll get on to that in the morning. Beam me up Scottie.