Particles Travelling Faster Than Light Detected, Claims CERN

CERN Has Just Made A Huge CLAIM!  

Particles travelling faster than the speed of light have been found. This startling claim comes from a source as respectable as CERN. This was supposedly observed in a neutrino experiment carried out by CERN. However, it is too early to confirm this startling result.


UPDATE: The ‘discovery’ was made by the OPERA experiment while the neutrinos were beamed from Geneva to a lab in Gran Sasso in Italy. The pre-print of the report, prepared by CERN and published today (23rd September) can be found here:

A news webcast by CERN will be available live later today. Details and URL of the webcast :
CERN Press Release by CMS:

Faster Than The Speed of Light? Real Life Tachyons?

Albert Einstein and his Special Theory of Relativity taught us that nothing having mass can travel at the speed of light or above. Massless particles can travel only at the speed of light. Thus, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

CERN’s scientists have now found that neutrinos, one of the most enigmatic particles, have breached this barrier. Neutrinos have nearly no mass, no charge and interact negligibly with ordinary matter. It is due to these properties that they cannot be easily detected. The scientists claim that a neutrino beam fired near Geneva to a lab 730 kilometers away in Italy reached its destination 60 nanoseconds earlier than expected. The experimental and statistical errors combine to deduct 10 nanoseconds, which still leaves 50 nanoseconds unexplained and makes this result significant. There are obvious checks and re-checks being performed.

What All Of This Really Means – Is Einstein Up For Grabs? A Close Look:

Confirmation Awaits

CERN is now depending on the colliders in America and the T2K neutrino experiment in Japan to reinforce its findings. The findings may need many runs and checks to be confirmed. Once confirmed, it raises many questions, including why such an effect wasn’t noticed before. The big question would be this: What happens to Special Relativity, which is an extremely reliable theory?

John Ellis, a theoretical physicist at CERN, gauges the magnitude of the find, if found true:

This would be such a sensational discovery if it were true that one has to treat it extremely carefully.

About the implication for Special Relativity, Ellis says that It has worked perfectly till now”.

Jury Out On Relativity? Not Really!

A knee-jerk reaction would provoke statements about revolutionizing the whole of physics, since stars to elementary particles, all rely on the Special Theory of Relativity. It has been wonderfully accurate, especially when combined with Quantum Mechanics to form Quantum Field Theory. Personally, at this moment, I don’t think this will throw Relativity out, even if the result is correct – Relativity is too beautiful and has been proved too correct in too many situations for that drastic step. I would even stick my neck out and add that this observation is some sort of experimental glitch and that faster-than-light particles have not really been detected. However, only more tests will testify to that.

The grand old man of physics has been challenged by a tiny, nearly massless particle.

What all of this really means:

Published by

Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.

  • OldOllie

    Supernova 1987-A proved that neutrinos travel at the speed of light. That event occurred ~168,000 LY away, and the neutrinos and the photons it produced arrived here at the same time. If neutrinos really traveled as fast as the CERN experiment claims, they would have beaten the photons here by nearly 4 years.

    • Debjyoti Bardhan

      You’re right. Plus, there was a time lag between the neutrinos having different energies, meaning that they have mass, however small. Massive neutrinos are important to explain neutrino oscillations. All in all, neutrinos travelling faster than light have never been observed.

    • Hans Albers Belerink

      I am stupid but like SiFi, please looke at this:
      If it is possible, for matter, to travel faster than time, this would mean that it matter would be possible to go faster than the expanse of the universe and, by default, through its outer shell.
      Could it be that this phenomenon creates a black hole? And if so it can this or could it be controlled (every action creates a reaction, for a problem one can find a solution)?
      Because if that would be possible time travel, (in distance E=mc2 – every distance travelled forwards needs the same time as returning to the point of origin – not possible with future or history) could be achieved.

  • DrG

    Note that the title of this article is misleading. The scientists at CERN are absolutely not claiming to have detected particles travelling faster than light. What they are claiming, is that they have made measurements that they do not understand, one explanation of which is that the particles they measured were travelling faster than light. However, the CERN researches also strongly state that the result may equally be due to systematic error with their experimantal procedure, and so have made their results public for other scientists to examine.
    Misrepresentation of scientific information by the media in order for a good headline like this article is a a serious problem that leads to distrust and riducule of the scientific community.

    • Debjyoti Bardhan

      No, the systematic error boils down to something about 10 ns. The advance seen is 60 ns. Systematic error doesn’t explain this! (Why would they report anything at all then?)

      “the CERN researches also strongly state that the result may equally be due to systematic error with their experimantal procedure”: This is a completely wrong statement. If they have published a paper on this on arXiv, CERN is CLAIMING the result. What they have not done is attached a theoretical or phenomenological interpretation of the results. I stand by my title.

  • Not undermining your article or anything, rather I am genuinely curious, as to how this is going to effect everything we perceive about physics?

    • Debjyoti Bardhan

      Don’t worry about undermining my article. Your question is a valid and good one.
      You see, special relativity assumes that speed of light is a constant and that it is the highest speed possible. If this is violated, then special relativity falls.
      So what, you ask? Well, all of physics, depends on special relativity. I’m not exaggerating. EVERYTHING depends on SR. All the physical theories, including that of gravitation (General Relativity), would then have to be reformulated.

      I’m writing an editorial explaining this in more detail. I’ll post the link as soon as I finish. I think you’ll find a more satisfactory answer there.

    • Debjyoti Bardhan
  • DrG

    Professor Antonio Ereditato, in his interview for BBC states “we are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result – because it is crazy”.

    Your article title states: “Particles Travelling Faster Than Light Detected, Claims CERN”.

    It is you, the author of this article that is making the claim, not the CERN researchers.

    • Debjyoti Bardhan

      Can CERN disown the result? No, right? When CERN scientists are saying that they are “not claiming anything”, what they mean is that they are not claiming any theoretical or phenomenological interpretation of the results. They are definitely claiming the result, not the obvious ramifications. They are hoping that there is some mistake in the expt.

  • Nalliah Thayabharan

    In 1932 Nikola Tesla reported that neutrons are small particles, each carrying so small a charge and they travel with great velocity, exceeding that of light.
    Experimental tests of Bell inequality have shown that microscopic causality must be violated, so there must be faster than light travel. According to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, nothing with nonzero rest mass can go faster than light. But zero rest mass particles can go faster than the light. Neutrinos have a small nonzero rest mass. Faster than light interactions are a necessity and they provide the non local structure of the universe. We should understand the relation between local and nonlocal events like the dynamics of universal structure. In any physical theory, it is assumed that there is some kind of nonlocal structure violates causality. If neutrinos are traveling faster than light, then neutrinos must be on the otherside of the light barrier going backwards in time, where the future can interact with the past.
    There are lots of theories and research regarding this matter including Cherenkov radiation, Standard Model Extension, Heim theory, Novikov selfconsistency principle, Casimir effect, Hartman effect, Casimir vacuum & quantum tunnelling, Tachyons, etc.

    – Nalliah Thayabharan

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