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Thread: Einstein in error?

  1. #11
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    Thanks Pabmusic and umslopogaas - that is most helpful.....my one afterthought is are they saying how much faster than light speed they measured these neutrinos travelling at?

  2. #12
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    Thanks, fhg, Pabmusic and umslopogaas. I am aware of course that at this stage there is a lot of caution about whether the results are conclusive. And also that just as Einstein's work did not completely invalidate Newton's, this 'discovery' would not invalidate all of Einstein's. I was just interested in how, if the results were authenticated, they might alter scientists' understanding of the universe.

    A conference discussion at CERN on this is apparently available online this afternoon (might be a welcome alternative to the Rattle/BPO Mahler 8th on R3 )

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by johncorrigan View Post
    ...my one afterthought is are they saying how much faster than light speed they measured these neutrinos travelling at?
    I've not seen anything, but it's very (very. very) unlikely to be anything greater than a very small amount. If it were, they'd easily tell if their maths is at fault.

    French Frank -

    Neutrinos are parts of an atom - rather like electrons that have no charge - usually produced by radioactive decay. We're in the realms of quantum physics here, and very peculiar things happen. They've discovered particles that appear very briefly in two places at once, and others that can move between A and B without ever crossing the space in between. All very weird.

  4. #14
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    FF-

    I have not studied the explanations you requested on this thread, so please forgive if I am repeating comments.

    Studied physics at university, but my business has always concerned electronic matters.

    The basic experimental problem addressed by Einstein's theory of relativity, is that experiments in the 19th Century (Michelson- Morley) proved that light travels at the same speed (186,000 miles per second), no matter how fast or slow the light transmitter is travelling relative to the observer. To make this fact compatible with Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism, Einstein went through a ground breaking series of revisions of our understanding of basic concepts of geometric dimensions and mass, and showed that a fast moving spaceship (for example) would actually appear heavier and shorter, when measured from Earth. Similarly time intervals would seem shorter. This leads to apparent paradoxes where for example a cosmic ray particle having an extremely short lifetime could actually be detected on earth, although the time for it to travel from the outer atmosphere to the earth's surface is longer than its lifetime as measured in the lab. Or, fanciful, an identical twin travelling to a star and back at a speed near the speed of light, would arrive back on earth younger than his brother, although they were both born at the same time

    Einstein's equations showed that as moving objects approach the speed of light, they become infinitely heavy and infinitely short - hence the rule nothing can go faster than the speed of light.

    However I well remember a professor. professor Freeman speculating in a lecture in the 1960's - what if things could exceed the speed of light? At the time I thought it a daft suggestion, but I am sure the theoreticians are now well-prepared with revisions to Einstein's theories, should this latest exprerimental fact hold up.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by umslopogaas View Post
    A final thought. Whether Einstein was right or wrong is of huge intellectual importance, but to you and me and the man in the street ... so what?
    Don't be too sure! In 1831, when Faraday demonstrated his experiments showing the link between electricity and magnetism to William IV the king asked what use all this was. Faraday replied "I don't know, your majesty, but I do know that one day you will tax it".

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pabmusic View Post
    Neutrinos are parts of an atom - rather like electrons that have no charge - usually produced by radioactive decay. We're in the realms of quantum physics here, and very peculiar things happen. They've discovered particles that appear very briefly in two places at once, and others that can move between A and B without ever crossing the space in between. All very weird.
    I recall a few years back Michael Rosen on R4's 'Pick of the Week' talking about some of these particles - he was reviewing a programme that had been on during the week (quarks perhaps). If one of these particles came in contact with another one then subsequently, even if those particles moved thousands of miles apart, if something happened to one of the particles it affected the other. That sounded strange and yet something which sometimes seems to transfer to the macro world.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pabmusic View Post
    I've not seen anything, but it's very (very. very) unlikely to be anything greater than a very small amount. If it were, they'd easily tell if their maths is at fault.
    I think I saw something like a few billionths of a second quoted. I supposing this is a bit like snooker. Miscalculate your shot by a tiny bit, if the ball is a long way from the pocket when it's struck it will miss by a metaphorical mile.

    So you see these things do have practical importance
    French Frank -

    Neutrinos are parts of an atom - rather like electrons that have no charge - usually produced by radioactive decay. We're in the realms of quantum physics here, and very peculiar things happen. They've discovered particles that appear very briefly in two places at once, and others that can move between A and B without ever crossing the space in between. All very weird.
    I read the very fascinating biography of Paul Dirac last year. Sometimes - as with A Brief History of Time - I felt I was following the explanations. And then ... . But the anecdotes were good!

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    So you see these things do have practical importance
    In any case, I think there's something to celebrate in any increase in knowledge, even if it's the knowledge that something you believed to be incontestably true may now be disputable.

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    One of the results I saw quoted one of the scientists involved as stating the result had been repeated enough times with the anomalous result for it to be statistically significant, which is why they'd gone public. That said, I got the feeling that they don't really believe it, and think it's more likely there's an as yet overlooked basic error in the calculations or experimental set up which would explain it (and by making the results public it makes it more likely that someone will spot what it is)
    --
    David Underdown

  10. #20
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    Jim al-Khalili seems to be pretty sure it is a mistake.

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