Thursday, February 23, 2012

CERN: Was Einstein wrong - or was the cable loose?

(Reuters) - Physicists are to run new tests in May after the CERN research institute said on Thursday that its startling findings appearing to show that one of Einstein's fundamental theories was wrong could have been caused by a loose cable.

The CERN lab near Geneva appeared to contradict Albert Einstein's 1905 Special Theory of Relativity last year when they reported that sub-atomic particles called neutrinos could travel fractionally faster than light.

Einstein's theory, which underpins the current view of how the universe works, says that nothing can travel faster than light, and doing so would be like traveling back in time.

CERN said two possible effects had been identified that could have an influence on its neutrino timing measurement during its OPERA experiment. "New measurements with short pulsed beams are scheduled for May," it said in a statement.

One effect concerned an oscillator used to provide the time stamps for GPS (Global Positioning System) synchronizations, which could have led scientists to overestimate the neutrino's time of flight.

However, the other effect appeared to be more significant in the faster-than-light finding of the original OPERA experiment. Read More