Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why Neutrinos Moving Faster than Light is not the Problem for the Theory of Relativity.

In a recent report by CERN they claim to have measured neutrinos going faster than the speed of light by about 20 parts per million causing quite a bit of internet chatter. Given that the speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s these neutrinos were going 6 km/s faster than light which could easily be an experimental error.

Despite all talk about thiis being a problem for Special Relativity it is not since even close to being a problem. the proabition against traveling at or faster than the light only applies to particles with a real non zero rest mass. A particle like a photon that has a zero rest mass travels at the speed of light. Particles that travel faster than light have been speculated for years under the name tachyons. Tachyons would have a negative imaginary rest mass giving it a real non zero mass at speeds above the speed of light. It would however be incapable of being decelerated to the speed of  light below it.

Also there are quantum effects like quantum tunneling provided another way around the light barrier by allowing particles to instantly skip over an area of space without actually going through them while traveling sub light through the space it does go through thus not violating Special Relativity. 

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