Step aside, Einstein?

If we were more of a science-loving people, maybe this would lead every newscast today:

Einstein proven wrong.

The science community is abuzz today with news from a group of European researchers that neutrinos — sub-atomic particles — travel faster than light. Einstein said nothing can travel faster than light.

If his special theory of relativity is proven incorrect, it means that most everything we think about how the world and universe works might be wrong.

Other scientists, however, are lining up to call “shenanigans” on the claim.

Chang Kee Jung, a neutrino physicist at Stony Brook University, says there’s an error in the calculations somewhere. “I wouldn’t bet my wife and kids because they’d get mad,” he says. “But I’d bet my house.”

“We have high confidence in our results. We have checked and rechecked for anything that could have distorted our measurements but we found nothing,” Antonio Ereditato, spokesman for the researchers, told Reuters. “We now want colleagues to check them independently.”

“This is so huge that the Europeans are asking us to check it. They haven’t done that since the rise of the Third Reich,” Alexandra Petri at the Washington Post jokes.

If it’s true, what does it mean? The researchers aren’t saying. So we turn to the world of science fiction which has long contended that the secret of time travel depends on overcoming the notion that nothing can travel faster than light.

Also, it means we may not don’t need roads, and there’s a possibility you’re dating your mother.

  • Z

    We still apply Newton’s laws even though they were proved “wrong” by modern physics (and the theory of relativity.) I think it’s far more likely that this will result in a refinement of the theory than an outright abandonment.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Very cool. I’ve been a string theory guy for quite a while. (Just don’t ask me to explain it.)

    And regarding: “Also, it means we may not don’t need roads, and there’s a possibility you’re dating your mother.”

    Dating? I know quite a few people who MARRIED their mothers.

  • John P.

    The obvious conclusion is that the universe has speeded up since 1905, and we probably caused it.

  • bench

    Isn’t the physics lab beneath the Soudan Mine doing research regarding neutrinos? Does that mean we lost another race with Europe?

  • Jim B.

    As a trained physicist I find this fascinating. We already know that relativity as a theory is incomplete, in the sense that it has yet to be reconciled with quantum mechanics. Perhaps this will prove an important clue on the path to a theory of quantum gravity, or perhaps it marks the beginning of a new scientific revolution.

  • Jim

    Isn’t the physics lab beneath the Soudan Mine doing research regarding neutrinos? Does that mean we lost another race with Europe?

    According to the summary in Nature, the MINOS project (the neutrino detector in the Soudan Mine) had previously observed the exact same phenomenon (neutrinos arriving before they should). The problem was that MINOS doesn’t know the exact distance from the neutrino source at Fermilab to the detector in MN, so they didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.