Wibbly Wobbly Space Time…

‘…We don’t allow faster-than-light neutrinos in here,’ says the barman. A neutrino walks into a bar…’

You’ve got to love high energy physics humour 🙂

So the boys at CERN are excited, cautiously, about their neutrino burst arriving 60 nanoseconds earlier than predicted for a journey of 730 km between their supercollider, where the neutrinos were born, and a neutrino detector buried under the Italian alps.

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve busted the speed of light. They may in fact have taken a shortcut through another dimension. Space time gets a bit wibbly-wobbly when you get down to that scale and neutrinos may be able to ‘slip’ through.

Of course this is one experiment, and the proof is in other experimenters (using different techniques) getting the same results. Or as Karl Popper would put it pitilessly testing CERNS results to see if they can falsify the claim. Science is a harsh realm run by ruthless people :-).

As an aside, measuring the speed of light and other fundamental physical constants has a long and noble history of experimenters underestimating the effect of systematic error (the difference between what you’re measuring and the actual value of interest) so there is always the possibility that this difference can be explained away. So I wouldn’t buy stocks in a FTL drive startup company just yet…

At the moment the guys at CERN are checking and re-checking their results, but the real excitement will come when someone independently gets the same results. Until then don’t blink ;-).

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