An Outsider’s View–5-Opera test on speed of light deals heavy blow to physics,makes time travel possible?
Posted on September 25th, 2011

By Shelton A. Gunaratne Professor of mass communications emeritus, Minnesota State University Moorhead

 Recently, the Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Tracking Apparatus (Opera) sent neutrinos from a particle accelerator at CERN outside Geneva, Switzerland, racing some 450 miles to a cavern in Gran Sasso, Italy. Neutrinos are electrically neutral elementary subatomic particles, each of which has a corresponding antiparticle called antineutrino, which have the capacity to zip through ordinary matter almost unaffected over great distances.

The neutrinos arrived roughly 60 nanoseconds faster than light””‚with a margin of error of only 10 nanoseconds.

The conventional speed of light is 186,282 miles per second or 671 million miles per hour. It is the maximum speed at which all energy, matter, and information in the universe can travel, according to the basic laws of modern physics. Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity will itself require revision because it pivots on the notion that nothing can exceed the universe’s ultimate speed limit.

The Opera findings have confounded eminent physicists the world over because the affirmation of the results would invariably require contemporary scientists to go back a century and start on building a new body of knowledge. Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence formula, E=mc2 (energy equals mass multiplied by the square of speed of light), would need thorough revision.

If the Opera results stand true, it would erase one of the most fundamental laws of physics and raise bizarre possibilities including time travel and shortcuts via hidden extra dimensions. Brian Cox, a professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester, urged caution.

“If you’ve got something travelling faster than light, then it’s the most profound discovery of the last 100 years or more in physics. It’s a very, very big deal,” he said on BBC 6 Music on Friday. “It requires a complete rewriting of our understanding of the universe.”

Quantum physicist Fritjof Capra, who wrote The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (published in 1975 by Shambhala Publications) documented the many similarities between the bizarre findings of quantum physics and the much disparaged Eastern beliefs embedded in the Indic (e.g., Buddhist and Hindu) and the Sinic philosophies (e.g., Taoist and Confucian).  Capra’s book became a bestseller in the United States, and has been published in 43 editions in 23 languages. The fourth edition in English was published in 2000.

Capra wrote, “Physicists do not need mysticism, and mystics do not need physics, but humanity needs both.” However, the Opera findings clearly show that science alone cannot explain the universe because science and philosophy are interdependent.

Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), best known for asserting the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics, had extensive discussions with Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the Bengali poet, about Indian philosophy. These talks helped Heisenberg to realize that all the new ideas in quantum physics were in fact not all that crazy because he found a whole culture that subscribed to very similar ideas. Niels Bohr (1885-1961), best known for the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, had a similar experience when he went to China. The yin yang concept of Chinese philosophy is believed to have influenced Bohr in elucidating the complementarity (article-wave duality) principle in quantum mechanics. Now we know that every particle/neutrino (yang) has a complementary antiparticle/antineutrino (yin), and their unceasing interaction produces the totality of energy that we call the universe.

If particles can exceed the speed of light, it makes no sense for science to insist that only empirical research can produce universal laws and that transpersonal phenomena belong to the arena of mysticism.

In May 2001, a rumor floated around the world that an Indian boy named Sudarshan Reddy had theoretically proved the existence of a subatomic particle that can travel at speeds greater than that of light, thereby challenging one of the fundamental postulates of the “Theory of Relativity.” The story looked like an urban legend. A decade later, the respectable Opera gave voice to the same urban legend, proof and all.

4 Responses to “An Outsider’s View–5-Opera test on speed of light deals heavy blow to physics,makes time travel possible?”

  1. AnuD Says:

    I think, with this time travel thing we are confused. All the particles that come under visible particles travel only at the speed of light. So, if we are to think about time travel we have to find a method to transform the visible matter to other invisible forms of matter which can travel faster than light. Then comes the question of how to transform large objects like human body into invisible matter.

    With the double-slit experiment everybody knows that particle pairs know each others’ location whether they are meters away or billions of miles away. But, how do those do that, I did not read anything any where.

  2. Ben_silva Says:

    Good article.
    Science is based on mathematics and a body of theory. supported by experimental evidence. Religion and myths such as Sansare, Rebirth, God and Nirvana rely on beliefs and do not have supporting evidence. Scientific predictions can be challenged by any one using maths and theory. Science is evolving all the time to incorporate new observations. Humans like myths,mysticism and fairy tales, as man created God, Sansare, Nirvana, rebirth etc, using human imagination. Capacity of umans to imagine is infinite. Due to this capacity, some creations of imagination coincide with scientific predictions. The fact that humans like mysths is shown by the popularity of Harry Potter books, God etc.
    Science attempt to understand and predict the universe using maths and theory, supported by evidence rather than beliefs.

  3. geoff Says:

    There is other proof that this is correct.

    If ETs visiting earth is scientifically proven, despite lacking second or third kind of contact it opens up amazing possibilities. After studying planets in relativley closer systems, scientists have concluded there aren’t any that can hold large enough life as we know on earth. Potential life containing planets have been found hundreds to tens of thousande of light years away. If ET activity has some truth, they must have exceeded the speed of light. Otherwise it takes an awfully long time to travel hundreds of light years.

    For meaningful space travel humans must exceed the speed of light. And it is possible.

    Time travel – I too find it difficult to apprehend how a time traveller can interact with the objects. It is not possible to interact with the objects. A time traveller may only see unpolluted light particles of already emitted light.

  4. Ben_silva Says:

    If particles can travel faster than light, rebirth becomes a reality. Earlier, it was thought that information cannot travel faster than light. However, all the Karmic information, coded, stored and transmitted in correct form, perhaps using nutrinos, enters the egg as the sperm meets the egg. The new persons DNA is usually obtained from the parents. However the new discovery enables information to travel faster than light and arrive at the egg, the same moment that sperm meets the egg. However, it is revolting to think that when some one is dying two other persons are having sex. Is this rebirth idea an Indian myth or is it made possible by the new theory. Hope Prof. can shed some light.
    Clark looked into rebirth and ruled it out.

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