These Two Neutrinos Walk Into a Bar…


The estimable Charles Krauthammer explains that light-speed thingy much better than I ever could. At National Review Online:

Einstein’s predictions about how time slows and mass increases as one approaches the speed of light have been verified by a mountain of experimental evidence. As velocity increases, mass approaches infinity and time slows to zero, making it progressively and, ultimately, infinitely difficult to achieve light speed. Which is why nothing does. And nothing ever has.

Until two weeks ago Thursday.

That’s when the results were announced. To oversimplify grossly: If the Gran Sasso scientists had a plate to record the arrival of the neutrinos and a super-powerful telescope to peer (through the Alps!) directly into the lab in Geneva from which they were being fired, the Gran Sasso guys would have “heard” the neutrinos clanging against the plate before they observed the Geneva guys squeeze the trigger on the neutrino gun.

Sixty nanoseconds before, to be precise. Wrap your mind around that one.

It’s as if someone told you that yesterday at drive time Topeka was released from Earth’s gravity. These things don’t happen. Natural laws don’t just expire between shifts at McDonald’s.

They certainly don’t at any McDonald’s I’ve ever been to. By all means, read the whole thing. And hold on to your hat.

UPDATE: An opposing view from someone with a bit more direct experience in such matters.

UPDATE THE SECOND: It’s an error, which can be accounted for by special relativity according to MIT. Supposedly they’re pretty good at this physics stuff…

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