‘Speed of light’ experiment prof resigns

2012-03-30 14:43

Rome – An Italian professor who led an experiment which initially appeared to challenge one of the fundaments of modern physics by showing particles moving faster than the speed of light, has resigned after the finding was overturned.

Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) today said that Antonio Ereditato had stepped down as coordinator of the so-called OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) experiment but had no comment beyond saying it “took note” of his decision.

It was not immediately possible to reach Ereditato for a comment.

The experiment measuring the speed at which sub-atomic particles, called neutrinos, travelled from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva to Gran Sasso in central Italy at first appeared to show they had flown the 730km stretch 60 billionths of a second faster than light.

Had it been confirmed, the finding would have disproved Albert Einstein’s 1905 Special Theory of Relativity, one of the foundations of modern physics and cosmology, which holds that nothing in the universe can travel faster than light.

The result of the experiment was later called into question by separate experiments and CERN said the OPERA result appeared to be the result of a measurement error or malfunction.

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