ON SEPTEMBER 23rd researchers at CERN, Europe’s main particle-physics laboratory, caused a stir. They suggested that neutrinos—ethereal particles which pervade the universe but rarely interact with anything while they are doing so—can travel faster than light. According to Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity, this is impossible.
Physicists from OPERA, one of the experiments at CERN, sent beams of neutrinos through the Earth’s crust from the organisation’s headquarters on the outskirts of Geneva to an underground laboratory 730km (450 miles) away beneath Gran Sasso, a mountain in the Apennines. The neutrinos appeared to be reaching the detector 60 nanoseconds faster than light would take to cover the same distance—a small deviation, and one that might be written off as experimental error if an experiment in America, called MINOS, had not detected a similar anomaly in 2007.
Jegarakshagan R. Gokul