Get ready to spin up the FTL drive and kick it into hyperspace because scientists have discovered particles traveling faster than the speed of light, according to the Associated Press. An experiment was run by CERN, those dudes you heard about in Angels and Demons, who sent particles zipping from their lab in Geneva over to another lab in Italy. This 454 mile trip was covered 60 nanoseconds faster than it would have taken light to cover…. pick your jaws up.
The particle in question is a neutrino; you know, those particles that Woody Harrelson rambles on about for 10 minutes in 2012. Already referred to as “one of the strangest well-known particles”, the particles were found traveling 282 miles per second faster than the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second for those out of the know.
There’s always a margin for error that CERN calculated to only be 10 nanoseconds which at worst case puts the particles traveling 50 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light. This may not seem like much of a feat, but Einstein’s theory of relativity disproves the possibility of faster than light travel, even by 50 nanoseconds. This staple of the physics world, laws that govern our lives, has been broken. This is like finding an apple that’s unaffected by gravity, it just shouldn’t happen. But it has.
Of course, CERN isn’t baselessly claiming that they’ve busted the laws of physics, they’ve called in the help of scientists around the globe to help them verify their discovery by running the same experiment, or one like it, at their own labs. Currently running tests are at Fermilab outside Chicago and the T2K experiment in Japan where if these results are confirmed, and here’s the scariest quote you’ll hear today, “scientists agree this will force a fundamental rethink of the laws of nature.”
This doesn’t mean we’ll be jumping from one point in the universe instantly to another anytime soon, or inadvertently sending spacecraft through portable wormhole into a Hell dimension. What it does mean is that new, very large doors are opening in the world of physics. Will we see the benefits in our lifetime? Probably not. But this is one step closer to a future where deep space human travel is a possibility. Very, very cool.