Let’s hope not.
Recently a study conducted at the CERN research lab (pictured) in Geneva conducted an experiment where they sent tiny, almost mass-less particles called neutrinos to a lab in Italy. The particles clocked in at just over the speed of light. And although CERN has said that they’re still ensuring that there aren’t any errors, physicists are getting nervous.
Is it That Big of a Deal?
My friend and I were running the other day, and he had asked me whether or not I had heard about this experiment. I had, and told him I really hoped that they messed up somewhere. He asked why as he couldn’t figure out why this was such a big deal. I said, “it’s like working your way up to calculus, only to find that 2+2 actually equals 5.” “Oh, that would suck,” was all he could manage.
Einstein’s ground-breaking theory of relativity, which has set the stage for modern physics states that there is a universal speed limit — the speed of light. This universal speed limit is applied to everything in terms of speed through time + speed through actual space. Everything actually travels at the speed of light, just in a different way. For example, lets say for the sake of simplicity that the speed of light was actually 100 mph. If you were driving in a car at 25 mph, you’d be moving through space at 25 mph. Your remaining 75 mph would be put toward traveling in time. Conversely, if you were driving at 75 mph, you’d be moving through space at that 75 mph, so there’d only by 25 mph left for you to travel through time. As a result, time would be slower for you than the person driving at 25 mph. (This is why atomic clocks on jets actually tick slower than those on earth, they’re going through space faster.) Also, as you come closer to the speed of light, you lose mass. So, if a person drove our theoretical car at 125 mph, not only would they have a negative mass, they’d also have to travel backward in time. Both of these ideas, modern physics says are completely impossible. So yes, it is that big of a deal.
So Now What?
For the next several weeks, and probably months, you can expect the scientists to pour over the findings and ensure they’re correct. After that, you can expect the labs to test this, retest this, and then test this again. If the findings keep coming up the same, then the world of physics is in for a major overhaul.