Saturday, March 17, 2012

Neutrinos obey speed limit

AP reports on the latest neutrino experiment:
Einstein may have been right after all.

European researchers said Friday they had measured again the speed of a subatomic particle that a September experiment suggested traveled faster than the speed of light, violating Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which underlies much of modern physics. ...

Einstein’s theory of relativity, a pillar of modern physics, says nothing in the universe can travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, approximately 186,282 miles per second. ...

“I’m not displeased that Einstein was right again,” Mr. Rubbia said.
Everyone in these articles always idolizes Einstein. But before Einstein wrote his first paper on the subject, Poincare's 1904 St. Louis World's Fair lecture said:
From all these results, if they were confirmed, would arise an entirely new mechanics, which would be, above all, characterized by this fact, that no velocity could surpass that of light.
Einstein was just describing the Lorentz theory when he wrote about the constant speed of light in 1905.

For the last 10 years or so, conventional wisdom has been that the neutrinos have mass, and hence travel slightly slower than light. But they have been measured as being very close to the speed of light, and I guess these latest measurement was not accurate enough to detect if they were any slower than light.


  1. Why does the press idolize Einstein?

  2. There is a long list of reasons for the press idolizing Einstein, the most obvious being: the prominent physicists cite Einstein; Einstein has name recognition; Einstein was a liberal icon; and Einstein has his own cult following.