Apparently, researchers at CERN have found definitive evidence of particles traveling faster than the speed of light. The article writes:
If confirmed, the discovery would undermine Albert Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity, which says that the speed of light is a "cosmic constant" and that nothing in the universe can travel faster.
Is this just a publicity stunt, or is it possible that this is legit? (I would like to see the paper for these findings, I love how they conveniently leave that out). In other words, if this is found to be true, would Einstein's theory of relativity really be challenged?
There's some debate in the comments which suggest this doesn't do anything to Einstein's theory. E.g.:
The reporting here is incorrect. Einstein’s theory DOES NOT HOLD that nothing can travel faster than light. That is a very common misconception. Einstein’s theory starts with one axiom (a self evident truth) and one postulate (a statement deemed to be true without further argument). The axiom from Einstein’s theory can be stated: the laws of physics should not depend on the frame of reference of the observer. This is a self evident truth. The postulate can be stated: light will be measured to travel at the same speed by all observers regardless of reference frame. This postulate was based on experimental evidence available in 1905 and still available today. When the axiom and postulate are applied to observers traveling at constant speed relative to one another, you get the special theory of relativity, published as part of Einsteins 1905 paper. One of the conclusions is that “the speed of light is constant and absolute in free space”. It falls out of the mathematics. This conclusion is part of the special theory of relativity. It has to date not been dis-proven. If it is, then the postulate must be incorrect. It would mean that light can be measured to travel at a different speed depending on the frame of reference of the observer. I don’t get from the article that this is what has occurred. When the axiom and postulate are applied to gravitational and accelerating frames of reference, you the general theory of relativity, published in 1916. The general relativity mathematics bring forth strange things like black holes, worm holes, time warps, time travel etc. in the so called “fabric of space and time.” The stuff science fiction authors and buff’s are so enamored with. Including me. Most of it has not been practically realized. Only the more mundane stuff like gravity lenses, time dilation, length contraction have been observed. If any experiment can be performed that is in contradiction to the conclusions, then we would merely say, as would Einstein, that the postulate of the constancy of the speed of light, regardless of reference frame, must be incorrect. That’s not such a big deal, really. It would change a lot of physics. It would be very exciting. But it would just mean that the one postulate, one that none of us have ever been able to intuit anyway, is incorrect.
This is not the first time that experiments have been performed that have particles traveling faster than light in a medium other than free space. In this case neutrinos travel through, air, water and apparently rock faster than light does. That does not violate the fundamental postulate that the speed of light is constant regardless of the frame of reference of the observer.
Get it right.
Dr. Karl Hudnut, UCAR – COSMIC.