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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

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Why The U.S. Lost Its Leverage In The Middle East — And May Never Get It Back

In the Israel-Hamas war, Qatar now plays the key role in negotiations, while the United States appears increasingly disengaged. Shifts in the region and beyond require that Washington move quickly or risk ceding influence to China and others for the long term.

Photograph of U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken  shaking hands with sraeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

November 30, 2023, Tel Aviv, Israel: U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Chuck Kennedy/U.S State/ZUMA
Sébastien Boussois


PARIS — Upon assuming office in 2008, then-President Barack Obama declared that United States would gradually begin withdrawing from various conflict zones across the globe, initiating a complex process that has had a major impact on the international landscape ever since.

This started with the American departure from Iraq in 2010, and was followed by Donald Trump's presidency, during which the "Make America Great Again" policy redirected attention to America's domestic interests.

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The withdrawal trend resumed under Joe Biden, who ordered the exit of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2021. To maintain a foothold in all intricate regions to the east, America requires secure and stable partnerships. The recent struggle in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demonstrates that Washington increasingly relies on the allied Gulf states for any enduring influence.

Since the collapse of the Camp David Accords in 1999 during Bill Clinton's tenure, Washington has consistently supported Israel without pursuing renewed peace talks that could have led to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

While President Joe Biden's recent challenges in pushing for a Gaza ceasefire met with resistance from an unyielding Benjamin Netanyahu, they also stem from the United States' overall disengagement from the issue over the past two decades. Biden now is seeking to re-engage in the Israel-Palestine matter, yet it is Qatar that is the primary broker for significant negotiations such as the release of hostages in exchange for a ceasefire —a situation the United States lacks the leverage to enforce.

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