Faster than the speed of light

So this could be big news. Perhaps the biggest. A team of scientists at CERN announced that they had recorded particles moving faster than the speed of light. This is not supposed to be possible according to physics's main man, Alfred Einstein. And when I say "not supposed to be possible," I don't mean like a two-headed goat. I mean that it is physically not possible in the accepted model of how our universe actually works.

The constant speed of light is the backbone of Einstein's Relativity, which is in turn pretty much what physics has been all about for going on 100 years. It's the "C" in E=MC2, which describes nuclear bombs and reactors, and the workings of the sun. The effects of Relativity have been proven over and over again. Without accounting for Relativity, your GPS would be off 6 miles a day. It's why gold is colored gold (I like this article, but sorry about the poems). Relativity is real.

If things are traveling faster than the speed of light, though, where does that leave Einstein's equations? If the history of physics is a game of king of the hill, Einstein knocked Newton off the mound. Einstein has been king ever since, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be king forever.

If true, this discovery changes everything.



Nathan Cooley said...

One can only hope. If this is true then there may also be a new flood of interest in "the final frontier". Which would be win. After all, the light barrier is the biggest obstacle to interstellar travel. It would be very encouraging to look up and see that that big boulder up the road was just a mirage.

Steve Kopka said...

Well put, Nathan. Interstellar travel springs to my mind too. If we've cracked open the door on faster than light particles, who knows where it could lead. What does this mean for time, for instance? Will we be shooting FTL ships across the galaxy... that arrive before they depart?