17 mile tunnel where physicists shoot particles Credit: Cern
In a paper published on Thursday, Scientists at Cern and across Europe have reported the apparent discovery of particles traveling faster than the speed of light. The researchers described their experiment, which seems to show that a beam of neutrinos traveling through the Earth arrived at a detector some 60 nanoseconds faster than light would take to travel the same distance.
If confirmed, this would require a fundamental rethink of Einstein's theory, which has underpinned both classical and quantum physics for a century. However, the researchers emphasize that they are not making this claim, rather that they are calling for critical analysis of their experiment and independent replication of the results.
For the experiment, neutrinos travel 730 kilometers through the Earth to a 1,300-ton particle detector called the Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus (Opera). According to standard physics, the journey should take 2.43 milliseconds. On average, the experiment found, they arrived around 60 nanoseconds earlier than expected, with an uncertainty in the measurement of around 10 nanoseconds. The result, given the number of detected neutrinos and the declared accuracy, is good enough to qualify as a statistically validated discovery.
For more on this story, read Researchers catch 'faster-than-light' particles on ZDNet UK.