Sunday, January 12, 2014

Faster Than Light Neutrinos? No thanks.

In science, there is a saying that goes something like this: It is very hard to unprint something. This saying speaks towards the inevitable fact that, once something goes to print, it is hard to change it. Because of this, there are a lot of public misconceptions of science – I’m going to put one of them to rest today.

Allow me to set the stage for you. It was September 23, 2011 when the world woke up to impossible news; scientists have measured neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. Headlines around the world read ‘Was Einstein Wrong?’, ‘Faster than Light Neutrinos Could Disprove Relativity’, ‘Physicists Worried about Relativity’ and the like. All of the sudden, it appeared as if a century’s worth of physics and advancements began crumbling all around us. Most of these stories (and the first one I read) left you under the impression that this result was all but certain, what they didn’t say is that this result was a one-time occurrence and it hadn’t been confirmed. (As a comparison, NASA lands a rover the size of a small car on another planet in one of the most technologically advanced and ambitious Mars missions of all time, not a mention of it in my newspaper. This story was on the front page – and it isn’t even confirmed.)

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1 comment:

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