More evidence that Einstein was right about light speed
In Albert Einstein’s famous equation, “e” stands for energy, “m” for mass, and “c” represents the speed of light.
March 16th, 2012
11:16 AM ET

More evidence that Einstein was right about light speed

The cards keep on stacking up in favor of Albert Einstein being right about the speed of light: It's looking like its limit is approximately 300,000 kilometers per second, or the "c" in the famous equation E=mc2.

The ICARUS experiment at the Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy reported Friday that tiny particles called neutrinos did not surpass this commonly recognized speed of light as they traveled from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland to the Italian underground laboratory.

That's what the established laws of physics would predict. The result wouldn't be special, except that it flies in the face of a measurement from 2011 that challenged the foundations that Einstein had laid out.

Last September, scientists at OPERA - which stands for Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus - had found that neutrinos from CERN were arriving at Gran Sasso faster than the speed of light. If the particles really did exceed the established speed of light, scientists would have to completely rethink their understanding of how the universe works.

Since then, however, additional details have emerged to call this finding into question. In February, CERN acknowledged that faulty wiring may have produced the faster-than-light measurements.

Today's news isn't the end of the story, however. Four Gran Sasso particle detector experiments - BOREXINO, ICARUS, LVD and OPERA - will all be making new measurements with beams from CERN in May to give the "final verdict," CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci said in a statement.

Theoretical physicist Brian Greene, at Columbia University, told CNN in February that the faster-than-light measurements would probably not hold up to scrutiny. There's already a lot of experimental evidence suggesting that no particles can travel beyond that universal speed limit of light speed.

“They need to have completely independent confirmation by a separate experiment, ideally using different experimental methods," Greene said. "And if that were to happen, that would make many of us sit up in our chairs, or maybe even fall off our chairs."

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soundoff (692 Responses)
  1. Lowell

    Hi everyone. I was wondering, if the galaxy is spinning and we headed towards a sun or body that was heading in our direction. Then the time to travel to such body would take less time. So if we were travling towards a body at 5% of the speed of ligt and it was 4.7 light years away at time of departure. How long would it take. And how would the 5% of speed of light affect the age of the person traveling to such a body. Compared to someone living on the earth?

    .I was also thinking if you traveled to the point where our solar systems gravity was not acting on our ship we could cut our engines off and let our momentum and the gravity of the body we were traveling to, plus the body is traveling towards us. Seems to me That our speed plus the speed of the body heading towards us would be added togather. So if we were traveling towards a body at 51% of the speed of light and the body was heading towards us at 51% of the speed of light.The total would in a manner of speaking we would be traveling to the body faster than the speed of light.

    If we were ever to travel to any object outside of our solar system I think heading towards a body heading towards us would be the quickest route.

    Thanks Lowell D. Williams VanVorhis

    July 12, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  2. Mike R

    All the hoopla out of CERN concerning the neutrino’s supposed superluminal speed this fall, and now a relatively quiet rebuff. Seems the massively expensive project in search of the so-called "God particle" is running into more and more roadblocks. Gravitas, the Latin form of gravity is not going to be understood by science for the sole reason that God will not permit man's hubris to be His undoing. GRAVITAS might be said to mean God’s Real Attractive Vitality Instantly Tugging All Substances (and all souls too).

    Since E=mc2 is also in play based on the c, the speed of light in a vacuum―ever so close to 300,000 km/s―did you ever consider why a metric system spawned during the Enlightenment would be able to provide the vehicle for an absolute speed limit that is so near to the cardinal number three? My take is the Triune God is trying to get our attention. And how about that same metric system giving us the speed of sound (when the ambient temperature is 3 degrees Celsius) at 333 m/s?

    The Triune God is the ultimate source of all light, life and love. We might as well just face it.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  3. mikstov33

    Since energy always creates the light source(the sun, the stars, a flashlight, an led, a fireflys butt) I would contend that light IS energy, or a by-product of energy. Or at least a relative of it. I personally as yet have not seen light without an energy source to emit it. The light we see from any point in space is created by the many suns that inhabit the universe. The Earth would not appear as a blue planet without the sun to shine upon it. The moon would not seem to shine without the energy of that great nuclear reactor in the center of this solar system. The stars we see would not be visible to us here millions and millions of miles from the source,with out the massive amount of energy emitted by the many suns in this unending vacuum we call space.Light can only travel as far as the power of its energy source allows it.The speed of light decreases relative to the energy of the source, and the distance it travels from that source.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Miles Veritatis

      You need to go back to school. Regardless of the luminous flux (energy at the source), light travels at a constant velocity relative to space in any given medium (just under 300,000 km per second in a vacuum). Also regardless of the luminous flux, light travels infinitely far unless something gets in its way and absorbs or reflects its energy. It is less intense at greater distances from the source because it spreads thinner as it has to cover a greater area. (Think of the light that left a star at a single moment travelling at a constant velocity in the shape of a sphere. Every time you double the distance that it has traveled the surface area of that sphere increases by 4 times. Since the amount of energy that originally left is still the same, everything it hits only gets one fourth as much illumination) So, it seems to only go so far because eventually it gets so spread out that it is too dim to detect.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  4. intothemoonbeam

    The Santorum and Palin supporters think this a hoax, just like global warming, just like overpopulation on Earth, just like the Dinosaurs, just like the moon landing, just like the Big Bang. Am I missing anything else?

    March 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  5. Jee yun lee pho

    My farts travel faster than light. My fart breaks sound barrier. SONIC BOOM! fffffffart!

    March 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  6. Douglas Goldman

    If Albert Einstein was right about light speed, the Theory of Relativity is still correct, then a warp drive can be possible to implement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgAwyr5Udzw

    March 17, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  7. justmeanddog

    I finally know why my dogs refuse to obey me. We are moving in different frames of reference! When I holler NO! its not that they are ignoring me, they just cannot hear me because they are traveling at a slower rate than me and my voice does not carry into their frame of reference. The proof of this is that they age at a rate that is seven times faster than me. So all I have to do now is to figure out how to instantaneously transmit my instructions to their frame of reference. That should be a pretty simple task. Or not.

    March 17, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  8. JCthatsme

    You can find the answer by putting your figures into relativety equations didnt einstein plagurise these

    March 17, 2012 at 6:34 am |
  9. bullet1

    Does anyone except me not give a damn one way or the other?

    March 17, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • clearfog

      No.

      March 17, 2012 at 2:42 am |
  10. Kevin

    What instead there are particles that move slower than what we know. If everything we see is a reflection of particles then they must all be moving at the exact same speed which would be the speed of light. For instance If we look at an orange basketball at 100 hundred yards and we look at a blue painted wall one mile away then they would be reflecting back at us at the same rate of speed yet seen at a diffrent time frame. If there are particles in the universe that move slower than what we know then why would we see them (a orange ball 100 yards away could take 10 billion years to see), (if there is a blue painted wall made up of these particles 1 mile away then maybe it would take 1 trillion years to reach us to see). The point may be that we only know what we see?

    March 17, 2012 at 2:00 am |
  11. clearfog

    Elizabeth Landau – Thanks for the article, again. This area is sort of my hobby, ever since abandoning my studies in quantum physics in favor of applied probability analysis (professional gambler – blackjack and holdem). I like smart women. You married? Just kidding, I am ancient.

    March 17, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  12. Colin McMahon

    Total cost in a LEGAL arena, Hillary Clinton:

    3.09277778 x10 -6 cents

    Personal or emotional cost to her: Zero due to Infinitely stupid Security Guards.

    March 17, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • Colin McMahon

      USD.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • Robrob

      Which has to do with the article, how?

      March 17, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  13. db

    My understanding of the general theory of relativity is at a highschool level – but this is a question that has puzzled me, and I'm hoping someone here can explain it in a somewhat simple way.

    It is my understanding that theory of relativity is based on the assumption that the speed of light is constant. However, light can change direction, and even be stopped by the gravitational pull of black holes. If there is evidence that light bend, change direction, and change speed due to gravity why is there so much stock put into the consistency in the speed of light?

    March 17, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • E

      The speed of light isn't violated in that situation.

      Space-time itself gets folded, so light gets trapped in that situation.

      Much like we can race around the earth in an airplane, but not escape it if the escape velocity was extremely high (exceeding light speed in this case).

      March 17, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • clearfog

      In a sense, light travels in a straight line at all times, but space is curved. Imagine a straight line on the surface of a sphere. From the perspective of a two dimensional being, the line would be straight, but from the perspective of a three dimensional being, the curve is obvious. We live in a four (at least) dimensional universe. From the perspective of a three dimensional being, light bends (slows down some say, read descriptions of the slowing of light by mass as evidenced by the creation of a spectrum when light traverses a lens), but from the perspective of a four dimensional being, light speed remains a constant. It is difficult to think in four dimensions, but that explains it. BTW – black holes evaporate and, in a sense, light travels faster than light as described by quantum tunneling.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • clearfog

      Oh, and light is not stopped inside of a black hole, it is curved in upon itself but still maintains its constant velocity (keep in mind that velocity is speed with a direction). If you want to know what things are like inside a black hole, look about you. If the universe is positively curved or flat,we live in a black hole.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  14. tim

    If some of you really want to see just how strange relativity can get, read about the "relativity of simultaneity". Pretty much blows away any concept of what you think of as a correct perception of events.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativity_of_simultaneity

    March 17, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  15. Colin McMahon

    Just kidding. You missed it, you blinked. Back to your coke and chip party.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  16. Colin McMahon

    The DOG. We want the robot DOG. Hand over the robot DOG and nobody gets hurt.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKGRxkzw3cc&feature=related

    March 17, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  17. Colin McMahon

    http://www.elcastillodeljuego.com/m_m/minifondos/Terminator/Terminator_TX_1.jpg

    March 17, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  18. clearfog

    If you understand the following question and answer, you understand special relativity.

    Why can't you move faster than the speed of light?

    Because you can't move slower.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • clearfog

      No one asked, so I'll explain why. All objects move at the same 'speed' through space/time. All objects are located on an arc through an x axis (space) and a y axis (time) and it is impossible to leave the arc. The faster you move through space, the slower you move through time; the faster you move through time, the slower you move through space, and the 'additive' of the two is a constant. If you are at rest, you are moving through time at the maximum 'speed;' if you are moving at the speed of light through space (and you are a photon), you are moving through time at the rate of 0. That is why photons do not age. It is also why you cannot move slower than the 'speed' of light because you are moving through space/time at a constant rate at all times.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  19. Wow!

    Everyone on here sounds like they are a bunch of Einsteins. Must be a lot of millionaires out there posting on this article. What is the probability that you are? So how come I've never heard of you and your hypothetical or theoretical (published) work? Same reason, You are not!

    March 17, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • E

      My works are peer reviewed and published. They just happen not to be in theoretical physics.

      Though in college, I've put my colleagues in solid state engineering (quantum mechanics) to shame by being top in the course yet not a computer / electrical engineering or physics major.

      Your point?

      March 17, 2012 at 12:43 am |
      • Wow!

        My point is...step off your pedestal and be humble. There were quite a lot of posts earlier in this thread from people trying to show off and shun others by making cruel remarks in effort to devalue their intelligence – yes showing off, and not engaged in an intellectual, educated discussion. I was just trying to pop their ego. Case & point right here.

        March 17, 2012 at 2:02 am |
    • jacob

      Wow!,

      Acting childish and trying to use insult to discredit opinions will get you no where. In fact, you're argument only points out how uneducated you are in physics and how ignorant you are. The reason you haven't heard of any of the ppl posting intelligent comments on here is because they are in the processes of learning the currently accepted theories of physics. The comments differ for multiple reasons – levels of intelligence, current level of understanding (may still be learning), etc. The reason you weren't able to figure out they are reciting current theory is your problem, not there's. Read a michio kaku or Richard feynmann, or even Steven hawking book. One day someone who posted here may be famous, who knows. Lastly, the type of ppl who take interest in articles such as these are the type of ppl who enjoy philosophical questions.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:47 am |
      • Wow!

        Wow, you really know me.

        March 17, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • tim

      Mr/Ms Wow!, get some books by Brian Greene. He makes things like relativity and quantum entanglement, etc. very understandable. And if you care, he sometimes goes into the math in the footnotes, but the math does get to be very complicated very quickly.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:50 am |
      • Wow!

        that's ok..i am quite fine right where I am and have experience in the most advanced mathematical subjects. But thank you.

        March 17, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • Wow!

      You must have been reading posts from a different page. Not the posts I was reading on here. I actually posted on here because I was getting tired of reading all of these posts from people putting down other people, as if they are more intelligent. And now, Case and point right here! So I decided to blast out a post based my observation and my opinion, because I think it is wrong (who do you think you are?) and because I knew that people like "you" would respond. That was my point and it worked. Thank you for truly proving how "uneducated" and "ignorant" you all are. I have nothing against intelligent discussion and learning, but egotism yes. And I also have nothing to prove to you. Because just as well, you don't know who I am or how accomplished I am.....exactly the point I am making. There is virtue in being humble. Regardless of how much you know or think you know, learning to be humble is far more valuable.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  20. Zwei Stein

    In my dealings with scientists in the past, the most frequently heard phrase: "It's impossible because..." Then along comes someone who doesn't know that "it" is impossible and does "it." I'm not really knocking scientists with this observation – no, they are extremely valuable and eventually accept the change from "impossible" and make "it" even better. I think they have an extreme, almost psychotic, fear of being wrong.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • E

      Impossible is not the same as improbable.

      We often say the latter and avoid saying the former.

      At least because of our current understanding of the way things work.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Peter

      Zwei,
      You are absolutely right. Some scientists seem to live with a cult-like zeal for their physical laws, without ever thinking about the fact that the current physical laws are just the current models for what we know now. Others, on the other hand, ask themselves some question, look for data, and come to conclusions based on the data, no matter what their beliefs are. For no matter how improbable something may seem at any point in time, and how it may disprove the current models, you have to believe the data.

      Einstein never said that traveling faster than the speed of light was impossible. I don't remember reading that. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. I think the law is that you could not travel AT the speed of light, which in itself is not too comforting, since light is traveling at that speed. IMO, this cosmic speed limit may have something to do with the interaction of space and time. It is my belief that the 3 dimensional fabric of space is rebuilt at a rate related to the speed of light, thereby giving us a dimension in time.

      But, I belief that traveling faster than the speed of light may be impossible for nature but not for a man-built machine.

      Hey, would someone already build a Jetson type of antigravity machine. My commute in the NJ highways, one hour each way to work, is painful.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  21. TalkingDonkey

    The bible is always right. Because everyone knows those illiterate desert goat herders living in tents 3000 years ago knew way more than any well-educated modern-day scientists.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  22. Anachron

    E=mc2 ... c isn't so much the speed of light as it is the 'speed' of time. Since all measurements are based on time, it can never actually violate it. 'c'ircular logic at a 'c'osmic scale.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  23. Colin McMahon

    Just another Sun dog, Icarus.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx1_6F-nCaw&ob=av3e

    March 17, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  24. Jaf

    While I have much respect for the science community, it is only a matter a time before the theories and laws set forth by Einstein, Plank, Bohr, Dirac, and countless others, are disproved with new science and mathematics that allow us to progress into a new world of technological illumination.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • E

      Doubtful they'll get disproved. More like expanded upon.

      We haven't abandoned Newtonian and Galilean physics, after all.

      Just developed a more comprehensive understanding.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |
      • Jaf

        Good point, but what is your opinion on the impact to Newtonian and Galilean physics once the true nature of dark matter is discovered? And beyond that, the behavior of matter once it falls into a black hole? We don't have the physics to describe those events, so it's my belief humanity will embark on a new era of technological enlightenment.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:42 am |
      • E

        My opinion?

        Simply that most of us will still use classical physics in our everyday lives. Unless we find a practical common use for black holes and dark matter, which is unlikely in our life times.

        Until then, the astronomers and theoretical physicists will enjoy those results. And we can have endless armchair discussions about them to pass the time.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Nathan

      That is an uneducated statement. Back in the day of philosophy that would be true. These days we have strong experimental data to back it up. Science has to pass specific experimental guidelines to become a law. This isn't the 1500's buddy.

      March 17, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  25. Justin R

    OK now what about warp speed, come on people Star Trek had it figured out . haha.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • clearfog

      If you want to see something warped, look at the comment immediately below.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:28 am |
      • clearfog

        Immediately as in Ex Rationalist.

        March 17, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Zwei Stein

      I think the North Koreans are working on it, having intercepted some Star Trek episodes. They're trying to catch up.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  26. Ex Atheist

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things...

    † Atheism is a religion that makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things (90% of silly comments here are posted by closet Atheists)
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate!

    †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator ††

    March 17, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Jaf

      Religion is a choice, not a mistake. You believe what you want to believe.....I like to believe in what I can see, touch, feel, and taste...and until now, I have not done either with God or the Devil, so I'm still an atheist, you got a problem with that you corn feed retard?

      March 17, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • E

      Atheism has what to do with the light speed barrier???

      March 17, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Zwei Stein

      If god was the being described by the religious, there would be no horrific suffering by little children. He/she would intervene and not allow it. If you told me you are deist, I would have much more respect.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Nathan

      Religion also kills thousands of people per year from religious disagreements that lead to violence. Religion causes wars. Religion is man made.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • intothemoonbeam

      I'm agnostic not atheist

      March 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  27. CaptQuark

    scr*w you all ~ I'm outa here, Scotty beam me up NOW.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  28. clearfog

    Einstein was 'right' in the same sense that Newton was 'right' – a good approximation of real world events. Einstein understood that his theories of general and special relativity were a complete description of physics if and only if the theoretical randomness of quantum mechanics was not a complete description of physics. In order to accomplish this, Einstein had to posit 'unknown parameters' to account for the apparent randomness described by quantum physics. In attempting to establish the existence of these unknown parameters, Einstein (along with Rosen and Pedovsky) put forth the ERP Paradox. Both the ERP Paradox and therefore the 'unknown parameters' were essentially disproven by the work of John Bell and others. The result is that both general and special relativity break down at very high energies and very small distances and time – 10 to the minus 35 seconds. Quantum physics teaches us that the speed of light can be and is exceeded through the concept of quantum tunneling or, for example, as Hawking described it, the creation of virtual particles near the event horizon of black holes, causing black holes to evaporate which would only be possible if something exceeded the speed of light.

    March 17, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  29. Zwei Stein

    The experiments have been conducted right here on earth. A neutrino is unimaginably tiny. Even the slightest external influence can result in major consequences.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  30. The Flamingo Kid

    Too bad Mr. Einstein plagiarized the work of his wife, among others.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Zwei Stein

      I agree Flamingo Kid. But, in their day, a woman discussing physics was given no (zero) consideration or credibility. The only way for her ideas to get out was through Albert. She was a truly brilliant woman.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • clearfog

      Too bad you have no evidentiary bases for your statement other than the ramblings of people with a feminist agenda. His wife was a second rate physicist. If there was any attribution to others, it would be Lorenz.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  31. nizer

    How do you know the article is not lying?

    March 16, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Smokey Zenmaster

      Because I'm reading it in America ?

      March 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  32. Jacob M

    The underlying basis for relativity is the measurement of the object of interest, which is conducted using light (in some form or another). Within this framework, Einstein's theories are internally consistent and it's highly unlikely (it would require a violation of isomorphism) that an experiment using light as a basis of measurement will detect a deviation from it.

    However, there are bases for believing that relativity may be violated in our universe – and not just in obscure ways. For example, due to the effects of gravitation within Einstein's framework itself, 'time' cannot be considered to be a consistent background dimension within the universe as a whole (not for the objects 'within' it, but rather for the spacetime continuum itself). As such, localized spacetime may very well behave as relativity predicts but vast spaces in the universe may contain distortions/deviations from this. (I'm being purposefully nontechnical, which may lead to confusion – sorry.)

    In any case, within a localized framework in which electromagnetic effects are used as the principal measuring method (such as in particle accelerators), deviations from Einstein's predictions are extremely unlikely – but that doesn't mean it's a universal principle.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • jacob

      You're saying that in a sense, the space time plane we live on may be warped, and as we were able to traverse it we may notice alterations in both our measurements of time and speed? For instance, we may all of a sudden roll down a 'space time hill' and time for us, as we roll down, speeds up. However, as insiders we don't notice the change, but an outsider could detect our change without being affected?

      March 17, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Nathan

      Are you talking about the red shift from the expansion of the universe?

      March 17, 2012 at 1:57 am |
  33. AGuest9

    There are more religious nuts here than on the belief blog. I'll remember that the next time I'm asked to leave it.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  34. Will

    I remember when this was first reported last year and I thought to myself, "Gee, what's more likely, that the entire foundation upon which theoretical physics is based is wrong or that somewhere in this experiment there was a faulty piece of equipment"? I don't know, it seemed kind of obvious to me....

    March 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Zwei Stein

      You could still be wrong...you'll probably know in about 17 years.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  35. Zwei Stein

    Consider "A" the starting point of the neutrino. Consider "C" the ending point. Then add "B" as a mid-point in the distance the neutrino traveled. The neutrino's time to get from "A" to "C" may not have surpassed the speed of light. But do we know that it traveled at the same speed throughout it's journey from "A" to "C" ? Perhaps it starts a bit slower? Perhaps the speed it actually moved was greater than the speed of light from point "B" to point "C".

    March 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Smokey Zenmaster

      You'll never know exactly what happened in between A and C for the same reason that you don't know if Schroedinger's cat is dead or alive. At a certain quanta, the answer is the question.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  36. Smokey Zenmaster

    You guys all sound like morons. Not just morons, but morons on drugs !!!. C is the LIMIT !!! Accept this FACT !!! If you can believe in Jesus and Mohammed then why can't you believe in a simple FACT ? ... C is the LIMIT !!!! .... Now here's the catch, ... you CAN transmit information instantly anywhere in the known universe. But that's a story for some other schmuck to explain to you bunch of newbs. I gotta get to sleep. Have a nice day. Love, Smokey XOXOXOXO (Ladies Only) http://facebook.com/SmokeyZenmaster

    March 16, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • L D Fox

      this is why people are looking for other way of going to the stars. the speed of light travel just doesnt work. you have to warp space or travel thru worm holes or something. c is the limit, that the facts of life man.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  37. Marc Parella

    Using experimentation to prove Relativity is fine, but that is not how Einstein arrived at the idea. Relativity came from a metaphysical approach, that is through mental experimentation. And I believe that is where another theory will be developed to either extend Relativity or perhaps surpass it. Let's be careful of not violating of one Einstein's own axioms: "Imagination is more important than knowledge." And that is the realm where FTL (Faster than Light) theories will be or not be developed.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Smokey Zenmaster

      That is a very Zenful statement Einstein made. It is possible he was a reincarnated Buddha from the other side of the world.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • E

      He still based it off of real world observations with known physics.

      I have yet to see one thought project where FTL can potentially work.

      At least one not involving massive gravity waves (e.g., black holes, quantum strings)

      March 17, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  38. steve

    how embarrassing is this for the guys that reported faster than like nutrinos

    March 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Embarrassing, but this is how science works. That is why they are called "experiments".

      March 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Smokey Zenmaster

      They probably work at Microsoft

      March 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  39. davao blogger

    I will always bet my marbles with Einstein.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  40. jacob

    The question I'd like to have answered is, if time slows down as you speed up, yet speed is relative – to me the 5% guy is traveling @ 98% and vice versa – why do I age slower and not them? How is it decided who is traveling at what speed? I'd age slower relative to the other person, since he perceives me as traveling faster, but shouldn't he age slower than me given he would appear to be traveling faster than me? All of this can be imagined in an empty environment with just the two travelers and one photon. The only way I can think to answer my question is that although time and speed is relative, energy is not. A third observer, if possible, could measure my energy and the other's energy and determine who is traveling at the faster rate. So is it true that the greater the energy the slower you'd experience time? Say I'm traveling 90% the speed of light and another person 95% the speed of light, however my mass compensates enough so that my ener gy is much greater than his, would time be slower for me or him?

    March 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Steve

      Point is that to make the side-by-side comparison of aging, one of the two would have to turn around and come back again. That would involve an acceleration (change in velocity) which breaks the symmetry of the situation, so there is a real difference between the two.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
      • NG

        Because I disagree with what your saying, what i'm saying isn't intelligent? Anyone can post here instead of trying to insult me, tell me why I'm wrong unless you can't. Or perhaps you don't understand what I was saying because your so focused that your right. When in fact it's just a theory that will eventually be proven right or wrong which is the nature of science. No question or statement is stupid because one of those "unintelligent" responses may be worth answering.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:05 am |
      • E

        NG, it's a proven theory.

        See my response below.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • NG

      Time and distance are human measurements. Traveling faster doesn't mean you will age slower. The universe doesn't care how fast your going. Your going to age at the same rate as if you were standing still. It's like people are saying there is a magical barrier called the speed of time. People forget time is based on the earth traveling around the sun and the math isn't perfect for that. the prof is Leap Year.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
      • Steve

        If you don't have anything intelligent to offer, why do you even bother responding? Geesh!

        March 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
      • E

        Sorry, NG.

        There are experiments with atomic clocks, showing that atomic clocks in motion move through time slower than one's at rest.

        It's a problem with synchronizing GPS satellites, too.

        The scientific evidence comes down hard against your explanation.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:19 am |
      • Colin McMahon

        WRONG. *BLAM*

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx1_6F-nCaw&ob=av3e

        45 degrees, Kevin, and NO, she didn't want a pair of boots.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:24 am |
      • Peter

        NG, "E" is absolutely right. You are made of quantum particles, just like the atomic clocks. And since you exist in one of the basic dimensions, that of time, you are affected just like the atomic clocks by changes to your speed.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:36 am |
      • jacob

        NG,

        The time you are referring to, say the time on a clock, would not slow down if the clock were to travel faster. However, everything about the clock would slow down to someone not traveling with the clock. If you were traveling with the clock everything would appear normal. You would have no indication there was a change in time. It is only when you reference something you know you're traveling faster than that you realize time slowed down. You could travel the universe at the speed of light and think only 56 years went by, you could mark off each 24hr period based on the clock you brought and whole hearted believe it was only 56 years. Then as you were returning to earth you'd realize how fast you were going, slow down, land, and realize 10million or so years went by. It's called time dilation.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:39 am |
      • NG

        Thanks, for taking the time to tell me I'm wrong and why. That's pretty interesting. Good luck.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:43 am |
      • Nightwriter

        @Jacob – That was a really excellent and thoughtful explanation. Those seem more rare these days, so thanks.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:47 am |
      • Bobby

        NG, if two mirrors are reflecting a ray of light back and forth, when the mirrors travel at a higher speed, the ray of light has to cover more distance to complete one period. You can think of the ray moving diagonally instead of up and down. Now imagine that those mirrors + ray of light represent subatomic and atomic behaviour.

        March 17, 2012 at 1:06 am |
      • jacob

        Nightwriter,

        Thank you.

        I wanted to add that there is no immediate benefit for traveling faster – slower rate of time. You gain no extra 'experience' of time. You don't get to experience 60 years of living while only aging 2. You'll age the same rate no matter what speed you're going. The benefit is subjective, let's say you hate the current world we live in, travel at the speed of light for a year then return. You'll have wasted 1 aging year but you'll get to live the rest of your life in a world 10-20 years progressed from when you left.

        March 17, 2012 at 1:07 am |
      • Nathan

        The faster you go through space-time the slower you age relative to a slower velocity. Space (distance) and time are inverse. Meaning the faster you go through space-time the longer the time dimension dilates and the shorter the spatial dimensions dilate. Therefore the faster you go the smaller you get relative to a slower velocity. The the "speeding observer" everything going the same speed as him will appear normal but to a slower velocity it seems a lot different. It's all relative. Hence, Einsteins theory of special and general RELATIVITY!

        March 17, 2012 at 1:52 am |
      • Robrob

        "People forget time is based on the earth traveling around the sun and the math isn't perfect for that. the prof is Leap Year."

        Winner of the most ridiculous post of the year. Time exists independently of the Earth and the Sun. No different than mass or inertia. We use the Earth's orbit around the Sun as a way to gauge time.

        March 17, 2012 at 2:06 am |
      • Sagar

        Your dumb mind can not catch up with the understanding of the theory of relativity, can it? Do you understand the meaning of Frame of Reference ? What you said it true in your frame of reference only. You age slower looking from other's frame of reference. If you depart from earth at a very high speed, you enter into a relatively moving frame of reference. You return to earth in 10 minutes, you may see 11 minutes passed on the earth. If you are travelling fast enough, you could see 100 years past on the earth, however in your frame of reference you only aged 10 minutes. Understand?

        March 17, 2012 at 5:58 am |
      • Stentor

        NG if that were true, then what about before humans existed. There was no time? There were no distances? Obviously false because there was a Big Bang so time occurred before humans existed, & our universe was once smaller than it is presently, so distances existed before humans. You are confusing your personal perceptions with the actual definitions of these phenomena. You perceive time differently than the universe does. Photons do not experience time at all because they constantly travel at the speed of light. Time is relative because of lightspeed, so are distances. This is why effects such as time dilation, & distance foreshortening occur as you approach the speed of light.

        March 18, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Jacob M

      The answer to this question is found not in the theory of special relativity, but in the theory of general relativity. In your example, you'd be accelerating – and thus subject to an environment which is different from your friend. This difference – even if only for a short portion of the journey – has a measurable effect on the outcome.

      By the way, that's good thinking for someone who's a non-specialist in this. It took some of the best minds in physics at the beginning of the 20th century to conceive of such a question – and eventually answer it.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
      • jacob

        To Steve and Jacob M.,

        Steve – what if the travelers are traveling is a circular path? Like the planets around the sun? If I remember correctly, this would also add the element of rotational acceleration to the equation.

        Jacob M., thank you. I'm an IT guy but read physics and quantum mechanics in my free time. I really enjoyed the Feynmann lectures on physics. However, with your reply, i'd ask measureable to whom, and when? Are we to say that in order to determine who accelerated we'd have had to be present at the very start? What if the traveler was not aware he ever accelerated, he has traveled the same speed for as long as he existed? That last question seems far fetched, but given certain quantum concepts it seems like a reasonable response.

        March 16, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Steve

      You age slower because you are the one moving, not him. Empty space has structure and therefore provides a reference point for who is moving even if the rest of the universe were empty. Imagine you are the only thing that existed in the universe (an you could somehow survive in a vacuum), if you were to spin around like a figure skater does, you would experience centripetal forces. But why? What are you spinning with respect to? The fabric of space. So even empty space acts upon us. When you travel fast, you are warping time and space around you, hence you age slower than your friend who is sitting still.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
      • Jacob M

        Precisely – UNLESS the spacetime fabric itself is nonexistent. This is the basis of Julian Barbour's work, I'd say.

        March 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
      • jacob

        Steve,

        I was under the impression that inertia is what would cause me to feel a force if I spun, which is relative to the force of gravity that would be acting on me. If I were alone in a vacuum and spinning, the force I'd feel would be due to inertia cause by my own mass. What you are saying implies we live in some sort of ether. I would like to believe that but I believe there are experiments that have already disproved that. What you are talking about may be related to dark matter, unfortunately I lack knowledge in that subject. I'm hoping to educate myself on it soon.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:03 am |
      • jabelar

        I don't know that the "structure" has to be anything fancy - just the concept of spatial dimensions. If you feel acceleration it means that you're changing velocity relative to those underlying dimensions. So the difference between the person that leaves and then comes back is that he felt acceleration on the journey. What most people forget in these thought experiments is the force/acceleration - if you just think of speed and time then you'll get confused.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:37 am |
      • Jer

        One doesn't age slower, both people would have aged at the same rate relative to their own perception, while one person may be 90 and the other 9 after the 9 year old left when bother were 8 the 90 year old would have lived 82 years relative to him and the 9 year old only lived one year, time is not constant and neither one has aged differently or incorrectly. There is no real way to prove an object is in motion nor that its not either, while you may be moving relative to the universe, how does one prove the universe is not moving relative to the motionless you?

        March 17, 2012 at 12:50 am |
      • jacob

        Jer,

        To add to your statement. There is no immediate benefit for traveling faster – slower rate of time. You gain no extra 'experience' of time. You don't get to experience 60 years of living while only aging 2. You'll end up aging the same rate no matter what speed you're going. The benefit is subjective, let's say you hate the current world we live in, travel at the speed of light for a year then return. You'll have wasted 1 aging year to get to live the rest of your life in a world 10-20 years progressed from when you left.

        March 17, 2012 at 1:01 am |
      • Yan

        It helps to NOT think that time passes at a different rate because you are travelling at a different speed. Instead just look at the acceleration history. If an object has been accelerated then its time-rate is also changed intrinsically with (during) that acceleration. After the acceleration has stopped then the resulting time-rate also stops changing. Coasting through space at a constant velocity your time rate will now be different from the environment you were in before the acceleration.
        KR
        Jan

        March 17, 2012 at 4:41 am |
      • Jer

        Indeed, it is somewhat like a casset tape, one doesn't like it, one fastforwards, you have experienced a mere 2 seconds, but now the tape is two minutes further ahead to the part you like, a somewhat flawed but easy to understand analogy. 🙂

        March 17, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Mike

      Hi jacob,

      Acceleration is relative to the frame of outside (star position, for example), not the other object at rest. Only one individual will experience acceleration. It's physical effects are noticeably felt (such as when you accelerate your car), and the human body has a limit of about 5g before losing consciousness.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:15 am |
      • jacob

        Mike,

        I appreciate the comment however you can't assume there's another outsider. Let's say there was a star position and the traveler at rest, and me going 98% the speed of light. I'd think both the star and the other are traveling that speed. I'd think any other outsider is traveling instead of me. I understand that when you accelerate you experience a force, therefore during acceleration you know you've changed speeds. However, once you're traveling at that constant speed, how do you know the other individuals haven't also accelerated to get to a particular speed? There is no way of knowing. All I can say for certain is that I changed speeds. For all I know I decelerated came to a complete stop and others are flying passed me, but in reality I actually accelerated.

        March 17, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • lk

      Liken it to Dog Years. For each year you live, your dog ages 7 years. The counter is the effect of traveling faster. The faster you get to the speed of light the slower you age in relative space. IE: if you are traveling at a speed equivalent to 300 years for every year, you would be only one year older, but 300 years would have passed. The fast you go, the more you cover in a smaller amount of time. 30 miles per hour vs 60 miles per hour – the timeraveled is still one hour – however the distance traveled is greater.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Mike

      Acceleration is relative to the frame of reference outside (star position, for example), not the other object at rest. Only one individual will experience acceleration. It's physical effects are noticeably felt (such as when you accelerate your car), and the human body has a limit of about 5g before losing consciousness.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • matt

      Its all about inertial reference frames. The one that undergoes acceleration is technically not in an inertial reference frame.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:45 am |
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