When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Future

Was Einstein Wrong? A French Experiment Could Upend The Very Basics Of Physics

Researchers from the French National Center of Scientific Research have found out that fundamental particles known as neutrinos can travel faster than light.

The end for Albert Einstein's century-old theory?
The end for Albert Einstein's century-old theory?
Cyrille Valerberghe

"If true," declares Thibault Damour, a French expert on Albert Einstein's theory of relativity "it's a genuine revolution for physics, a once-in-a-century kind of discovery." Big words indeed after a team of researchers at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Lyon, France, discovered that extremely light particles called " subluminic neutrinos " can travel faster than light. This fact is something strictly impossible according to Einstein's special relativity, for which no object with a mass could travel faster than 299,792,45 meters (186,282 miles) per second, the speed of light.

If the measures turn out to be accurate, the finding would overturn the most fundamental rule of modern physics. The consequences would be so far-reaching that the researchers are being very cautious and asked for the experiment to be replicated elsewhere, with another team, before they think about dumping Einstein's relativity in the trash heap of scientific history.

Still, the experiment led by the French scientists appears to be very trustworthy. It resisted six months of scrutiny by researchers called in specifically to try and find a flaw or a mistake in the methods. "It's so huge that we're seriously scared that we blundered somewhere, " says Stavros Katsanevas, Deputy Scientific Director of the IN2P3 (National Institute of Nuclear Physics and Particle Physics).

"Since we got the first results in March, we've checked them again and again with CNRS, and then with the international OPERA experiment (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tracking Apparatus), which performs tests on a neutrino detector. We haven't found anything yet, and the discovery was beginning to leak, so we decided to go public. "

A tiny lapse

A beam of neutrinos is apparently guilty for breaking the speed of light. These extremely light, weakly interacting particles were produced by the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) particle accelerator, and were detected under the Gran Sasso mountain located in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. Scientists expected the neutrinos to travel freely through the 731 kilometers of Earth's crust separating the two scientific centers at a speed nearing that of light – a journey of approximately 2.5 milliseconds.

But to the researcher's astonishment, the neutrinos reached the OPERA detector about 60 nanoseconds (60 billionth of a second) earlier than light. A lapse that seems tiny, but which no current theory can account for.

The team of researchers estimates the margin of error of the combined instruments at approximately 10 nanoseconds, which is still well below the recorded 60-nanosecond lapse.

Read the original story in French

Photo - Wikipedia

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest