Friday, September 23, 2011

Neutrinos: When speed gets a new maximum limit

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 23: City astrophysicist Dr BG Sidharth's theory on the
speed of sub-atomic particles neutrinos on Friday got a strong
scientific backing with the European physicists announcing that the
neutrinos have crossed the cosmic speed barrier.

It's a long held view that light travels at the speed of 29,97,92,458
metres per second and the famous theory of relativity proposed by
Albert Einstein is based on this speed barrier in physics. Now the
experiment carried out by Oscillation Project with Emulsion Tracking
Apparatus (Opera) at the CERN laboratory, 1.4 km below the earth, in
Geneva showed that neutrinos travelled at a speed of 29,97,98,454
metres per second. This exceeds the limit of speed in the universe.

Dr Sidharth, who heads BM Birla Science Centre, predicted way back in
2000 that the speed of neutrinos may show a sensational deviation from
Einstein's theory of relativity. His work replaces the usual Einstein
energy momentum formula with the so-called Snyder-Sidharth
Hamiltonian, which shows that the speed of neutrinos is slightly
greater than that of light.

"There are other interesting ramifications like the mass of a particle
and its antiparticle may differ slightly," Dr Sidharth pointed out.

The Opera result is based on the observation of over 15000 neutrino
events. The observation shows that neutrinos travel at a velocity 20
parts per million above the speed of light. European researchers,
however, are cautious of debunking the theory of relativity. "Given
the potential far-reaching consequences of such a result, independent
measurements are needed before the effect can either be refuted or
firmly established," says a CERN official release.

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