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

 
/News
 

Adventure holidays you HAVE to put on your bucket list

Need a break from your usual boring routine? Consider one of these places for your next adventure holiday.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Top 10 water sports to try before you die
6 impressive camping tips
Free outdoor yoga classes
Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding

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

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. 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
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an easy social flow and the need to blend in, yet you may not feel entirely comfortable. Something beneath the surface...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.