Monday, September 26, 2011

Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos | Science Hurtles Back in Time to Make Gene Roddenberry Shit His Pants

So some scientists last week asked for help in determining where their calculations had to have gone wrong, lest we determine that–we have no idea how, but–some neutrinos traveled marginally faster than the speed of light.

The easy answer is "somehow we overestimated the distance between emitter and receiver by 0.00000006 lightseconds. Plate tectonics, maybe?"

The more fun answer is that somehow neutrinos were coaxed to arrive hundreds of miles away infinitesimally faster than they should have, given that–having mass–they should have arrived slower than supposedly mass-less light waves, in fact, faster than even hypothetically perfect and massless light waves.

Possible Explanations:
  • We sped up nearly-massless particles over the threshold
    • Unlikely, as the limit still would apply. Having mass, we can't really accelerate a thing  to the speed of pure energy sans-mass.
  • More likely long-shot: we decreased either the distance or time between points A and B as a side effect of the experiment.
    • Not necessarily insane. We could have pumped out so much high-energy non-reactive particles as to let loose a bit of the "Dark Energy" theorized to overcome gravity in the universe, cause it's expansion, and–at the dawn of time–fuel the "inflationary period(s)." It's possible we concentrated some and kicked the neutrino beams forward, or rather the space they were occupying. Conversely, since neutrinos have some mass and are affected by gravity, it's possible they too were affected by something akin to frame dragging, where the high-energy levels around them minus most material interaction led to a localized spacial distortion. Any of these effects could make it appear as though the particles traveled a set distance faster, when in reality they traveled at precisely normal speeds over either a shorter distance or a longer lime relative to our vantage point in the universe.
Or, maybe someone just built the machine fractions of a millimeter closer than it should be.

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