Cern to re-run Einstein tests

2012-02-23 22:25
Geneva - Physicists are to run new tests in May after the Cern research institute said on Thursday that its startling findings appearing to show that one of Einstein's fundamental theories was wrong could have been caused by a loose cable.

The Cern lab near Geneva appeared to contradict Albert Einstein's 1905 Special Theory of Relativity last year when they reported that sub-atomic particles called neutrinos could travel fractionally faster than light.

Einstein's theory, which underpins the current view of how the universe works, says that nothing can travel faster than light, and doing so would be like travelling back in time.

Cern said two possible effects had been identified that could have an influence on its neutrino timing measurement during its Opera experiment. "New measurements with short pulsed beams are scheduled for May," it said in a statement.

One effect concerned an oscillator used to provide the time stamps for GPS (Global Positioning System) synchronisations, which could have led scientists to overestimate the neutrino's time of flight.

However, the other effect appeared to be more significant in the faster-than-light finding of the original Opera experiment.

"The second concerns the optical fibre connector that brings the external GPS signal to the Opera master clock, which may not have been functioning correctly when the measurements were taken," said Cern.

"If this is the case, it could have led to an underestimate of the time of flight of the neutrinos."

New beam

The faster-than-light finding was recorded when 15 000 neutrino beams were pumped over three years from Cern to an underground Italian laboratory at Gran Sasso near Rome.

James Gillies, a spokesperson for Cern (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) said late on Wednesday that the result was now in doubt.

"A possible explanation has been found. But we won't know until we have tested it out with a new beam to Gran Sasso," Gillies told Reuters in Geneva.

Physicists on the experiment said when they reported it last September that they had checked and rechecked over many months anything that could have produced a misreading before announcing what they had found.

A second test whose results were announced in November appeared to provide further evidence that neutrinos were travelling faster than light. But many experts remained sceptical of a result that would have overturned one of the fundamental principles of modern physics.

Edward Blucher, chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Chicago, said the original finding would have been breathtaking if it had been true. As it was, the research inspired many spirited discussions, if few believers.

"I don't think I met anyone who said I bet it's going to be true. I think the people on the experiment worked as carefully as they could and I think they ran out of ideas of what could be wrong and they decided to present it," he said.

"Maybe they should have waited a few more months," he added.

Read more on:    cern  |  switzerland  |  science  |  research
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Kuils River 17:58 PM
Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound

ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - expect delays

Montague Gardens 12:06 PM
Road name: Montague Drive

ROADWORKS - lane closures both directions for BRT lane construction - DELAYS towards Bosmansdam Road

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Jan 21 - Feb 18
Jan 21 - Feb 18

You may be inspired to do things that expand your mind in a big way today. You have a need to explore and a need to please....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.