# The speed of light may have been broken.

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Pincho Paxton, Sep 22, 2011.

1. ### RJBeeryNatural PhilosopherValued Senior Member

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Excellent point. I have no evidence against heaven, hell, leprechauns, unicorns and anal-probing aliens either. At a 50% chance of each existing that means that there's a 96.875% chance that at least ONE of them exists! I like this method.

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3. ### OnlyMeValued Senior Member

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The question now is which one are you.., hoping for?

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5. ### Walter L. WagnerCosmic Truth SeekerValued Senior Member

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And, of course, all of the above are actively being predicted theoretically, and searched for experimentally, like strangelets. Nice analogy.

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7. ### prometheusviva voce!Moderator

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It says or implies absolutely nothing of the sort. Notice here that you can't even grasp at the ridiculous 50/50 argument here either.

8. ### RJBeeryNatural PhilosopherValued Senior Member

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Unless I unsubscribe from this thread I may start hoping for an anal-probing unicorn to visit some folks.

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9. ### Walter L. WagnerCosmic Truth SeekerValued Senior Member

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When he used the term 'now', that is a demarcation between everything in his past, and everything in his future. When he said it worked perfectly fine in his past, there is therefore an implication that maybe those anomalous results are correct, and it won't work as he thought, in the future. To me, that implies he is considering the possibility of having to 'rethink' relativity as espoused by Einstein. Perhaps you simply didn't catch the implication.

And, yes, I did 'grasp' that the armchair physicist was attempting to cast ridicule on the 50/50 comment, with his first salvo, amplified thereafter with his unicorn rant. It was rather obvious, don't you think?

10. ### OnlyMeValued Senior Member

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This is all based upon assumptions made upon assumptions.

I cannot remember the precise reference right now but even Einstein made comment to the effect that, even should the speed of light prove to be variable GR would still remain valid.

General relativity is only married to the speed of light being a universal cap not a universal constant. And yes if we were to discover that c does vary in some fashion, it would necessitate a great deal of rethinking. Most of that on "our" applications of the fundamental ramifications of GR, more so than on GR itself.

11. ### nietzschefanThread KillerValued Senior Member

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Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
12. ### prometheusviva voce!Moderator

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You're reading this with your own preconceptions. Until John Ellis actually says that relativity needs an overhaul (at which point I will say he's wrong) I will assume he believes what he says.

Re read my post and you will see I didn't mean what you thought I meant. I've got to say though, the 50/50 comment really doesn't need any more ridicule on it. All one needs to do is actually listen to the comment to realise how uproariously funny you are.

13. ### Walter L. WagnerCosmic Truth SeekerValued Senior Member

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Actually, it requires c to be a constant (but does not predict its value, which has to be measured).

As is amply detailed in numerous quotes from physicists commenting on the CERN result, having a faster-than-light particle that is capable of interacting physically (as neutrinos do - i.e absorbed or emitted and detectable by such) creates a causality paradox which unhinges all of physics. And, we have no evidence for such.

14. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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Is it possible that the speed of light has been underestimated by a billionth or so, and that the speed of the neutrino is the correct speed?

15. ### Motor Daddy☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼Valued Senior Member

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No, because the meter is defined by light travel time. The speed of light is defined, not measured.

In essence, what the results have shown is that in a race between light and a neutrino, a neutrino wins. The neutrino gets there before light. The numbers are actually meaningless in the concept.

16. ### rpennerFully WiredStaff Member

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From CERN physics labs in Switzerland says it discovered neutrinos that travel faster than speed of light, September 22nd 2011, 6:25 PM
(Highlighted in red is the portion of the Ellis-based section Mr. Wagner chose to quote)

I for one, think you are misreading this article and substituting your own speculation for the facts of what was attributed to Ellis.
1) Ellis is credited with the sentiment that Special Relativity underlies large parts of modern physics.
2) Ellis is credited with saying "[Special Relativity] has worked perfectly up until now." "Has worked" is the present perfect tense of "to work" and in this case the sense is an action that began in the past and continues in the present.
3) Should Ellis had wanted to indicate that he thought Special Relativity no longer worked predicated on the OPERA discovery which happened before Ellis' comment, he would have used the past perfect tense (i.e. 'SR had worked perfectly up until then.') but Ellis did not elect to send either signal that he thought SR had been discredited.
4) Ellis' could have used the stronger present perfect progressive tense ('has been working perfectly up through now.') but such a choice would necessarily be speculation on what data the future will bring and may be a particularly awkward phrasing for a professional physicist speaking to his expert subject matter.
5) The final two paragraphs are also from Ellis' section of the article and strongly indicate he doesn't believe the current evidence requires discarding SR, contradicting your speculation on what you think Ellis meant to convey.

Even Federal Magistrates can get this wrong. Look at what Google wrote about a similar claim of speculation substituting for evidence in the reasoning of a judge:
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110921143117645

Timing and analysis:
http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.4897

The all-important Geodesy:
Neutrino velocity measurement with the OPERA experiment in the CNGS beams, G. Brunetti, PhD thesis, in joint supervision from Université Claude Bernard Lyon-I and Università di Bologna, 2011.

Sadly, I would like to be able to estimate the non-inertial contributions to error, but there is not enough in the papers to evaluate the effect of the rotation of the Earth or the variation in gravitational potential. The GR picture for relativistic beams might differ significantly from the essentially Newtonian survey.

17. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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Yes, but isn't light slowed more by matter than a neutrino?
And isn't c defined as the speed of light in a vacuum?

There's no such thing as a perfect vacuum.
And even if you created one, particles could spontaneously come into existence.

In any real situation, surely light is going to travel at less than c.
But a neutrino will hurtle along just fine.

I'm sure they are capable of thinking of that at Cern, so there must be a good reason why I am wrong. What is it?

18. ### OnlyMeValued Senior Member

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Curent applications assume c to be universally constant. And my post was instigated by a recollection of a statement Einstein made involving the effect a potentially variable speed of light would have on GR. GR would not be falsified...

Besides all of this as far as neutrinos are concerned is to at least some extent based on assumptions. We do not know the root "cause" of inertia or that it does not have a "texture" or "grainy" limitation, that is greater than the mass of a neutrino. Is a neutrino experimentally proven to be subject to the laws of inertia that other forms of matter (mass) are? Since once created we cannot really play with them the way we do with light, we just assume that they are.

I am not positive but I doubt anyone has any observable evidence that neutrinos are even affected by gravitational lensing or the redshift phenomena.

Once again this is as GR is interpreted by those individuals. And yes a lot of consensus of opinion and many many formulas would need a fresh look. That does not translate opinion into any sort of fact.

Personally, I like the idea that a neutrino may exceed c. While it would certainly require some reeducation, it also opens up a great deal of new physics to be explored. The inertia question being only one of many.

19. ### OnlyMeValued Senior Member

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This is a good post. Thanks.

20. ### Motor Daddy☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼Valued Senior Member

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If the distance is known from point A to point B a time of light travel is known, as distance IS light travel time, as if it were a perfect vacuum. There is no need to time light from point A to point B, distance IS time as far as light travel is concerned.

It will take light 1 second to travel 299,792,458 meters, by definition.
It will take light 1/299,792,458 of a second to travel 1 meter, by definition.

There is no need to measure it, it is defined.

The neutrino beats the defined speed of light.

21. ### River ApeValued Senior Member

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Be in no doubt ... the guys at CERN have checked out their results over and over ... some of the brightest scientists in the world ... the phenomenon they have been observing is a real one. They are being not only very cautious but very polite ... because a lot of physicists are going to get very angry about being told that the speed of light has been broken!

THOUGH IT COMES AS NO SURPRISE TO ME

Neutrinos were originally thought to be massless, but are now accepted to have a very tiny (and difficult to measure) mass, meaning that they travel slightly SLOWER than the speed of light.

Yet the truth about neutrino mass has been out there for some time for those prepared to accept the evidence of experiment at face value: NEUTRINOS HAVE NEGATIVE MASS, meaning that they travel slightly faster than the speed of light.

See for example: cupp.oulu.fi/neutrino/nd-mass.html

"The mass of electron neutrinos is measured in tritium beta decay experiments. The decay results in a 3-helium, electron and an electron antineutrino. If neutrinos have non-zero mass, the spectrum of the electrons is deformed at the high energy part, i.e. the neutrino mass determines the maximum energy of emitted electrons . . . To be exact, the experiments measure the neutrino mass squared. Curiously, when taken at the face value, all results point to a negative mass squared, particularly the oldest experiment. This is probably due to a systematic error ..."

Odd that, the way supposition of systematic error is preferred over an acceptance that the universe is not quite as one has been taught!

22. ### rpennerFully WiredStaff Member

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Surely your claim should be imaginary mass, since the Neutrinos convey real amounts of momentum and energy.

From the relations which hold for massive and massless particles:
v = pc²/E
and
E² = m²c⁴ + p²c²

It is not wholly unreasonable for these to hold for particle faster than light. But it is wholly unreasonable to either ignore them or to make make predictions without some sort of basis.

The claim v² > c² means p²c²/E² > 1 which means p²c² > E² which means E² - p²c² = m²c⁴ < 0

Thus m² < 0.

Thus m is a purely imaginary number.

--
If m was merely negative, then m² > 0 and p²c² < E² and so v² < c².

--

Finally -- one web comic strip already has this topic well-covered:

http://xkcd.com/955/

Last edited: Sep 24, 2011
23. ### AlphaNumericFully ionizedModerator

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$m^{2}<0 \not\Rightarrow m < 0$

Physicists know to be cautious. Only recently a 2 standard deviation signal was seen for the Higgs but upon further analysis it turned out to be statistical effects, not the particle.