Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Speed of Light

"The team which found that neutrinos may travel faster than light has carried out an improved version of their experiment - and confirmed the result.
The experiments have been carried out by the Opera collaboration - short for Oscillation Project with Emulsion (T)racking Apparatus.
It hinges on sending bunches of neutrinos created at the Cern facility (actually produced as decays within a long bunch of protons produced at Cern) through 730km (454 miles) of rock to a giant detector at the INFN-Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy.
When the Opera team ran the improved experiment 20 times, they found almost exactly the same result.
'This is reinforcing the previous finding and ruling out some possible systematic errors which could have in principle been affecting it,' said Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration.
'We didn't think they were, and now we have the proof,' he told BBC News. 'This is reassuring that it's not the end of the story.'"

If this proves to be true, it would have serious consequences. If the speed of light is not the limit, it would shake the principles of modern science. We would probably have to discard the Theory of Relativity. So everything written in Metaphysics Part IV of this blog would be void too. But the consequences could even go farther and affect quantum physics too. In this case we would effectively be thrown back to the 19th century and Newton physics as the best approximation to physical reality.
It's still to early for such a radical judgement, but modern science is in serious problems now. Physics could be far more complex as we assumed.
But we still have to wait for further verifications of the Opera measurements, which may take about one year or more. Then we will see if the Theory of Relativity can be adjusted to the new observations or has to be completely discarded. There might be something really big ahead of us and we might just have  scratched the surface. Or mya be it was just a systematic error of measurement. We will see.
But one thing is already sure: Modern physics has become to much dominated by speculations of theoreticla physics without enough experimental proof. Physics needs to rethink its approach. There are too many theories (String Theory, Superstring Theory, Big Bang Theory, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Black Holes and other singularities) without any experimental or observational proof. We have to go back to what we actually know and can observe instead of making new speculations based on previous speculations.
We have for example never observed a Black Hole, but the theory of Black Holes has spawned entire branches of physics. It is highly speculative to assume that the density of mass can be infinite. May be there is an upper limit, a so far unknown property of space itself (e.g. the density of Neutron Stars, which are among the most dense objects that have really be observed). We have not understood gravity, but we try to extrapolate by playing with numbers and speculate about singularities inside Black Holes and at the beginning of the universe. This is not how science should work. We have to calm down a little bit.

May be light speed is not the maximum speed, may be there is no such thing as an event horizon and the universe is bigger than we think. We will soon know more.
Meanwhile we should limit ourselves to what we actually know.

Considering the recent discoveries, there will be no further posts  in this blog on the topic of Metaphysics until the issue of light speed has been clarified. So let's get back to rather earthly topics.

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