Saturday, November 19, 2011

Do the 'laws' of physics need to be rewritten?

Laws can be rewritten.  And the government seems to like writing new ones.  But the laws of physics are generally thought to be immutable, are they not?  But what if they are not?  Or what if we've just been wrong about what some of those laws are?

The speed of light is thought the universe's ultimate speed limit at 186,000 miles per second.  Supposedly nothing can go faster than that.

But it was recently reported that a group of researchers measured neutrinos pumped from CERN had arrived 60 nanoseconds faster than light would have.

That's a pretty bold claim, considering that Einstein's theory of special relativity states that the speed of light is the cosmic constant.

Could it be an error though?

Well, the Washington Post has reported a second experiment has reached the same result.  The article suggests more tests are needed and on other experiment setups, but if the two completed experiments are correct, then the result could shake up the world of physics.  What would that mean for Einstein's theory of special relativity and study of physics in general?  Would physicists have to rewrite many years of research and the 'laws' of physics?  Would new models have to be formed?

And if neutrinos can travel faster than light, is there anything else that could go faster also?  And what would the cosmic speed limit be -- or would there even be a cosmic speed limit?

2 comments:

  1. Very thought provoking post. I have to admit that I believe science is only as good as the newest thing. It's like dating. I think a guy is awesome and the example of all that should be until I find another man who redefines what I want in a man. It's all relative to my knowledge at that point. Part of why I live a fairly unstressful life is that I have no regrets. In hindsight, I might have made decisions in the past with less information or a slanted view, but it doesn't mean that at the time, I wasn't making the best decision I could given my present knowledge and situation. Now, take science for instance, just when we think we know the rules, we learn something more. Man was shocked to learn there was a world at a molecular level. We still have so many components we aren't aware of that will screw up all that we thought we knew. Hey, let's just remember those awful text books in school that said "some day man will make it to the moon." They were outdated by the time we started elementary school. I now in the field of the paranormal, it will all be explained by scientific principles but for now it's in the paranormal category. We only know what we know today. The world was flat. The world was round. Next, the world will be multi-dimensional.

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  2. You know, what you said about having no regrets and making decisions with what information you had is a really awesome quote. That sounds like one of those quotes people would be posting on Facebook. :)

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