If you’ve heard the recent news about the speed of light supposedly being broken by neutrinos being detected as having traveled faster than the speed of light or 186,000 miles per second or 300,000 km/s (henceforth we’ll simply call “c”), unless you’re familiar with relativity, you might not understand how Earth shattering this would be if it turned out to be true.
It goes like this: According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, NOTHING with mass can travel faster than light, nor even reach the speed of light. Not even light can go faster than c. Nothing that could carry information about distant events can go faster than light. To do so would allow for backwards in time transmission of information, or, would even allow a solid object to travel backwards in time. The ramifications of this are obvious:
As most of you know, a paradox is an event which is logically impossible, such as going back in time and murdering your younger self. Of course, if you did that, then how do you explain the existence of the older you that wasn’t murdered to go back in time to do the murder? If you were murdered earlier, you wouldn’t have been around to go back in time to commit the murder, but if you didn’t murder your younger self, then you’re older you could exist to go back and murder the younger you which prevents the older you from existing, etc… etc…
I won’t go into the explanation here of why faster than light (FTL) travel results in time travel. I’ll do that in this series of articles here:
If these neutrinos truly did go faster than light, then this presents us with a paradox problem. Some observers traveling at high speeds relative to CERN and Italy where the transmission and reception of the neutrinos occurred, would see Italy receive the neutrinos before they left CERN!
So much of our understanding of the universe has the fundamentals of relativity (in particular, the limit of c) as their foundation. Proving something can go faster will turn everything upside down.
But then again, maybe not. Maybe we’ll discover something fundamentally different about this event that doesn’t really violate relativity. But, jus the thought of something with mass actually going faster than light sends shivers down the spines of scientists the world over. I can’t wait to see how this plays out. In a few months, it will be attempted to be repeated in a different lab in Chicago.
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