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CERN Reconfirms Faster Than Light Neutrinos

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BY CHRISTINA HARTMAN

ANCHOR ANA COMPAIN-ROMERO

A discovery that rocked the physics community a few months back -- is re-rocking it -- with a re-confirmation.

Here's KVUE with the physics-defying discovery.

"Scientists shot a particle beam from Switzerland to Italy yesterday-- if it was traveling the speed of light... It would arrive in two point four milliseconds. But neutrinos -- tiny sub-atomic particles -- managed to arrive 60-billionths of a second faster. They repeated the experiment at least 15-thousand times. Scientists are cautioning -- the results still need to be duplicated in another lab and confirmed."

You might remember the story from September, when the European Organization for Nuclear Research -- or CERN -- first went public with the faster-than-the-speed-of-light find. 60 billionths of a second faster than light.

Now, that might not sound like much, except according to Einstein's theory of special relativity, there's nothing in the universe faster than the speed of light. (Video: IBN)

But at the time of the initial announcement, scientists cautioned more experiments were needed before drawing any conclusions. They've done them, and gotten the same results. The BBC explains...

"Critics of the first report in September had said that the long bunches of neutrinos (tiny particles) used could introduce an error into the test. The new work used much shorter bunches. ... The error in the length of the bunches, however, is just the largest among several potential sources of uncertainty ... these mostly centre on the precise departure and arrival times of the bunches."

At first blush, CERN reconfirming that something travels faster than light seems to challenge Einstein. But wait -- The Washington Post reports -- even with the reconfirmation...

"...more tests are needed, and on other experimental setups. There is still a large crowd of skeptical physicists who suspect that the original measurement done in September was an error. Should the results stand, they would upend more than a century of modern physics."

And even at that -- when the faster-than-light neutrinos first rocked the scientific community in September, a physicist told WNET's THIRTEEN -- this doesn't mean Einstein was wrong.

"Absolutely not. The theory works really well. It has been tested. It might mean that the assumptions that he made were only approximations. The speed of light seems to be constant, but how do we know that unless we keep testing it? Are these absolutely true or do they break down?"

The results haven't been peer-reviewed yet.

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