Test result proves Einstein wrong

2011-11-18 15:05

London - A new experiment appears to provide further evidence that Einstein may have been wrong when he said nothing could go faster than the speed of light, a theory that underpins modern thinking on how the universe works.

The new evidence, challenging a dogma of science that has held since Albert Einstein laid out his theory of relativity in 1905, appeared to confirm a startling finding that sub-atomic particles called neutrinos could travel fractions of a second faster.

The new experiment at the Gran Sasso laboratory, using a neutrino beam from Cern in Switzerland, 720km away, was held to check findings in September by a team of scientists which were greeted with some scepticism.

Scientists at the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) said in a statement on Friday that their new tests aimed to exclude one potential systematic effect that may have affected the original measurement.

"A measurement so delicate and carrying a profound implication on physics requires an extraordinary level of scrutiny," said Fernando Ferroni, president of the INFN.

"The positive outcome of the test makes us more confident in the result, although a final word can only be said by analogous measurements performed elsewhere in the world."


An international team of scientists shocked the scientific world with the original findings in September.

That first finding was recorded when 15 000 neutrino beams were pumped over three years from Cern to Gran Sasso, an underground Italian laboratory near Rome.

Physicists on the experiment, called Opera after the initials of its formal scientific title, said they had checked and rechecked over many months anything that could have produced a misreading before announcing what they had found.

If confirmed, scientists say the findings may show that Einstein - seen as the father of modern physics - was wrong when he set out in his theory of special relativity that the speed of light is a "cosmic constant" and nothing can go faster.

This would force a major rethink of theories about how the cosmos works and even mean it would be possible, in theory, to send information into the past.

The Italian scientists, whose second set of results were published in online science journal ArXiv, said one potential source of error in the first results was that the pulses of neutrinos sent by Cern were relatively long at around 10 microseconds each, so measuring their exact arrival time at Gran Sasso could have had relatively large errors.


To account for this, the beams sent by Cern in this latest experiment were around three nanoseconds shorter, with large gaps of 524 nanoseconds between them, meaning the scientists at Gran Sasso would time their arrival more accurately.

"In this way, compared to the previous measurement, the neutrinos bunches are narrower and more spaced from each other," the scientists said.

"This permits to make a more accurate measure of their velocity at the price of a much lower beam intensity."

Jacques Martino, director of the French National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics, who worked on the second experiment, said that while this test was not a full confirmation, it did remove some of the potential systematic errors that may have occurred in the first one.

"The search is not over," he said in a statement. "There are more checks of systematics currently under discussion."

Christos Touramanis, who heads a neutrino research team at Britain's Liverpool University and is involved in scrutinising the Opera result as part of Cern's scientific committee, agreed the new test with short beam bunches had excluded one possible source of systematic errors, but said "a number of other possible effects" still needed to be checked.

"Ultimately, full independent confirmation will be required before accepting this result as accurate," he said in an e-mailed comment.

  • Duanne - 2011-11-18 15:09

    Theory states nothing with *mass* can travel faster than light, not "nothing" can travel faster than light. The 'm' in e=mc² represents mass. Weather neutrinos have mass is a huge complex problem for physicists - sometimes it appears they have, sometimes it appears they don't. Frankly, I'd just give up already.

      Guy - 2011-11-18 15:26

      Luckily you are not the one researching this potential game changer then.

      Percy - 2011-11-18 15:37

      If neautrons exist, then they have a mass...however minute that mass is..what am sayin is, anything that is matter(can feel,see and touch) has a whats the reasoning behind neutrons having no mass. If this research is infact true, what will happen to all that literature and complex physics eqautions in which the fundamental assumption is that nothing cn travers faster than light photons. would be interesting to find out.

      Duanne - 2011-11-18 15:51

      Neutrinos exist, our sun radiates them all the time. And we have been able to detect them since the sixties - see large detectors built in abandoned mines kilometers beneath the earth for example. Examples of particles without mass are photons and gluons (this is no resting mass). I am glad there are scientists out there working hard to solve the universe's mysteries, I'm just saying that if it were me I would've given up by now. Fortunately there are more dedicated people out there.

      sycomachinery - 2011-11-18 16:39

      Duanne, Photons do have a tiny bit of mass, very little though, the only thing I know for sure that has no mass, but that exist is Space.

      Duanne - 2011-11-18 17:16

      @sycomachinery - as I understand it they have mass when traveling, which is why the direction photons travel in change when moving in close proximity to a large gravitational field like a star or black hole, i.e. the light bends, travelling along the path of the warped space-time continuum (see the famous "stars bend space-time like a bowling ball resting on a mattress analogy). So photons are said to have a "resting" mass of zero. On a side note: the fact that light travels along the path of warped spice-time has great practical value in helping astronomers detect objects like extra-solar planets via Gravitational Microlensing.

      Alta - 2011-11-18 17:29

      I dont know enough to decide ither way, the only thing that is for sure . the jurno who wrote this needs a gramer lesson. Proves not prove.

      Robert - 2011-11-18 19:08

      Maybe Einstein meant in 1905 that if there is something that goes faster than light the unknown will happen. Destruction of earth. Cern is a very contentious experiment. I love science I had - wow is funding and dumb politicians driving it. Please tell me what is the expected outcome of Cern. What do we want to achieve - Food security - Clean drinking water and new energy source that will solve the crisis around energy. Please tell me - To prove a guy like Einstein wrong after so many years with limited resources so long ago- who is smart. He makes you all look like fools with an instant even if he is wrong. How many scientist is competing against Einstein's theories. Maybe he was smart enough not to really let go because he understood after the atomic bomb that certain things are better left alone. But we have a team 30000 against and with Cern to one to prove him wrong - ironic - You all are as dump as two brick, sorry half a brick.

      Sheda - 2011-11-18 19:52

      One swallow does not make a summer. There are so many variables that have not been eliminated. It is certainly not scientific proof but AN experiment recorded by scientists. Have they recorded the speed of the light travelling with the neutrinos? We all know that the speed of light can vary (that is why a black hole appears black - Einstein)

      Robert - 2011-11-18 23:02

      Part 2: It is matter. And the experiment is to crack the nucleus of matter - After that it's not matter and has the possibility to change the matter so needed to protect it. Split the Electron OK - Split the proton - No scientist can really argue or expect the result - and tat for to understand the beginnings of the universe. I would like to know but its time to help us here on earth to buy time to have the opportunity to understand it one day. PHD stand for Permanent Head Damage. Single line knowledge and socially inept people driven by people with money and EQ that does not understand the nature of the beast. We are trying things to early.

      Robert - 2011-11-18 23:17

      Paart 4 : Light can be bent or accelerated as Sheda says. You guys PHD's are fighting one man theories developed years ago. Thousands of you want to get laid once in your life. Einstein with limited resources is keeping Thousands of you guessing and trying - where has logic gone. scientists and PHDS you are killing our world.

      goyougoodthing - 2011-11-19 16:10

      Duanne, the equation itself only works with mass, otherwise you get Energy over zero which is zero equalling 34701058036,84mile per second. Which is not an equation. But in part you are right, they never mention gravity, which is an instant act. It has not 'mass' but is in fact a curve in spacetime. However this 'curve' reacts instantly, across space, therefore it 'travels' faster than the speed of light.

      goyougoodthing - 2011-11-19 16:14

      Robert you missed number 3. Folks, photons and the like have to have 'some kind of mass' otherwise they would not bend in spacetime, which is what 'gravity is, and which 'affects elements with mass'. Robert, light speed in relative, that's the whole theory. Light is constant but TIME changes.

      Andrew - 2011-11-21 12:42

      Would be very interesting if they can reproduce the results consistently, definitely a game changer! But as the neutrinos only arrived slightly before they were expected (6 nanoseconds if I remember correctly) I would strongly suspect a systematic error somewhere in the experiment; considering the distances travelled are being measured in kilometers, whilst the time in nanoseconds...seems like could simply be a rounding error ;-)

      Duanne - 2011-11-21 13:19

      @goyougoodthing - thanks for the info.

  • Stephen - 2011-11-18 15:26

    I'd put bucks on them being wrong. re calibrate the equipment.

      Guy - 2011-11-18 15:34

      Of course, why didn't they think of that? You should be in charge over there.

  • Fred - 2011-11-18 15:35

    I doubt it but science is self-correcting so it will be interesting to see if other physicists confirm the results.

      Jacques - 2011-11-18 15:59

      i agree, very interesting times indeed if einsteins theories are proved wrong

      Oneant - 2011-11-18 18:35

      if this stands, the super-expansion, red shift, and the big bang theory go out the window. which i cannot wait for. only a knob infers this universe to be 13 billion years of age.

      goyougoodthing - 2011-11-19 16:22

      How old is it then?

      goyougoodthing - 2011-11-19 16:37

      Oneant? How old, 5000 years with a dash of fossil evidence thrown in by the hand of GStar?

  • Bakers - 2011-11-18 15:48

    Well the pretty blond proved that light travels faster than sound when she opend her mouth and spoke.

  • Ian - 2011-11-18 15:53

    What this means is Star Trek and WARP 5 could happen!!!!!!!!

      Duanne - 2011-11-18 16:01

      We can only hope

      Grim - 2011-11-18 16:34

      Maybe if we can create enough energy to do so

      Ava - 2011-11-26 17:19


  • Johan - 2011-11-18 16:17

    Ek was al die tyd reg!

  • Jason - 2011-11-18 16:28

    Ok, so I'll start by saying that I, myself am no scientist, so please take this from where it comes. Firstly, this story was published, out of CERN on the 23rd of September this year, so yet again News24 proves to us how briliant their reporting is. Then secondly, the scientists at CERN are trying to replicate the results, due to the fact that according to a subsequent report, the miniscule amount of orbital movement made by the satelite they were using to time the travel of the neutrinos 'may' not have been factored in to the equasion, and as minor as that movement may have been, it is believed this error could account for the difference in the time measured. Read more on the story here: And please, News24, report on current stories please.

      Duanne - 2011-11-21 13:14

      To be fair, the *first* experiment that seemed to show neutrinos moving faster than light was conducted in September. This is a second test done to try and reproduce the results, so the news is actually new. And though the results may be the same, it does not confirm that neutrinos indeed do move faster than light, it just makes it more likely. The team could still have made a mistake somewhere (as they themselves admitted). What we need now is an independent team to reproduce the results (preferably at a different particle collider), which could take a year to setup.

  • robbie.crouch - 2011-11-18 16:39

    The Universe is stranger than anyone could ever imagine.

  • Silvana - 2011-11-18 22:01

    Neutrinos, the cereal that keeps your kids going.

  • Cracker - 2011-11-18 22:16

    Quite frankly, the report is of no value to us non-experts. So what if the speed is out of proportion to some other proportion or the standard model? Our intellectual curiosity also needs nurturing in exchange for the substantial amounts of taxes you specialist scientists use. The roport might as well consist solely of some mathematical formula or formulas as far as I am concerned. So much for its value. We as the average persons would like to know what the implictions are. Do we look at the possibilities that the unverse is older/younger/some possiblility of divine whatever, and so forth? Also important, are the tax payers all over the world getting something useful - even if only in a philosophical or dream-like intellectual state - in return for the huge tax contributions they are making? Scientists should take note. Or must the ommunication media take the blame for not doing its duty? It is not enough that you just tell us per our popular communication TV's like BBC that something has been discovered and then fail to tell us what the possible implications are.

  • Robert - 2011-11-18 23:00

    Part 2: It is matter. And the experiment is to crack the nucleus of matter - After that it's not matter and has the possibility to change the matter so needed to protect it. Split the Electron OK - Split the proton - No scientist can really argue or expect the result - and tat for to understand the beginnings of the universe. I would like to know but its time to help us here on earth to buy time to have the opportunity to understand it one day. PHD stand for Permanent Head Damage. Single line knowledge and socially inept people driven by people with money and EQ that does not understand the nature of the beast. We are trying things to early.

  • Nkanyiso Llewelyn Sosibo-Rowthe - 2011-11-18 23:43

    There is a theory that states that if the purpose of the Universe is discovered. - the Universe will cease to exist and be replaced by another Universe that is even more inexplicable and bizarre. There is another theory which states this has already happened :)

      Delusion - 2011-11-19 16:34

      You have no idea what a scientific theory is heh? There is another "theory" that the Flying Spahetti Monster will catch you with his noodly appendages and gobble you up if you are naughty before Christmas. Are you 8-years old or what?

      goyougoodthing - 2011-11-19 16:55

      What you refer to is the big rip. The idea that the Universe continues to expand until all matter is equally spread apart and so far apart that the entire universe is virtually empty. This emptiness creates a condition which preceeds a big bang. Something from essentially nothing. That is the one theory based on the fact that the Universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate as noted using red shift of distant galaxies.

      Nkanyiso Llewelyn Sosibo-Rowthe - 2011-11-19 23:09

      @Delusion ... You obviously have no sense of humour. You've managed to miss the point of my comment entirely...

      Grim - 2011-11-21 16:24

      what you are probably refering to is something along the lines of a quantum conscience. In a way yes. If you havent thought of it it doesnt exist is the example of that. HAve a look at the concepts of David Hammeroff the neuro scientist who has done a fair amount of work on the principle.

  • johnopolo - 2011-11-19 05:55

    Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. Sir Arthur Eddington English astronomer (1882 - 1944)

  • Se-a Spencer Ikeremm - 2011-11-19 15:41

    when they could have spent that tome trying to find a cure for cancer or something! i hate scientists. They're very overrated. Especially these of today, all they study is the cosmos and that sheet of ice that's melting at the poles:/

  • konfab - 2011-11-20 13:47

    It they prove that something can travel faster than the speed of light, it won't prove Einstein wrong. It will only show that relativity is a special case of whatever new theory they develop, just like classical physics is a special case of relativity.

  • renesongs - 2011-11-20 21:05

    This is not science until the same results can be achieved at different locations using different equipment.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-11-21 15:34

    which just goes to prove what I've said all along. In his wisdom man knows nothing and assumes theory to be fact. Everything you have ever been taught is based on the notion that there is a single set of laws and nothing else, when reality has proven time and time again that man doesn't have a clue.

  • Zion - 2011-11-21 15:49

    If this new theory is correct then at the least it will make advanced level mathematics much simpler when all the transformations are deleted. This meansthat spaceships will not contract whenthey go faster than light and nor can long spaceships be caught in a shorter garage when travelling at the speed of light and the garage doors suddenly slammed shut. It also means that the twins will still be able to knock the crap out of the other one on return from the nearest star. both's ages will be the same. Even the plumber and friendly back-yard mechanic can now dabble in einsteinian mathematics. And venus will not have a retrograde orbit around the sun and this was the factor which proved the theory of relativity.

  • Andrew - 2011-11-21 16:48

    This guy puts it all nicely into layman friendly terms:

  • Mahesh - 2011-11-25 13:03

    The OPERA recorded speed of Neutrino which is more than light. Before 23 years, I had proved mathematically that relative velocity may be more than light velocity. CERN proved experimentally that velocity of Neutrinos may be more than light, if this news will be confirmed then that will be new beginning of physics. So, it is necessary to think different than old concept of science. Please read paper "What is matter & dark matter is made up of?" on my web site This paper may help to find solution to this problem & other problems like what is dark matter? & about true relativity. I also proved E= mc^2 without referring Einstein’s relativity. I strongly oppose special theory of relativity

  • Otto - 2011-12-05 22:33

    What if the speed of light isn't constant, as some physicists suggested recently? What if the speed of light varies through time and space? That would create some interesting theory. At least I think so. Antimatter is the mind and consciousness of all living entities. You are your own universe. Reality is where the minds (antimatter) meets the physical universe. Interested? Then read my philosophical multiverse theory. Google crestroyer theory, and find it instantly.

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