In science fiction, traveling faster than light is no big deal. Everybody’s doing it. The details of how they do it are… a bit vague. But scientists at CERN, an international research facility in Europe, say they’ve discovered something that really can travel faster than light: the neutrino.
So does this mean science fiction writers should start building spaceships with neutrino engines? Not quite yet. Many physicists are not convinced by the CERN scientists’ claim. The equipment in the experiment could have been faulty, leading to a false measurement of the neutrinos’ speed. More tests are required to confirm these findings.
And now we’re learning that some of the scientists involved in the experiment did not want the results published. Though most of their colleagues felt confident, a few still worried that the measurement was somehow in error.
There are precious few particle accelerators in the world, but I expect scientists will try to replicate the experiment at another location soon. In the meantime, science fiction writers should stay away from neutrino engines. In a year or two, we might find out the whole think was a fluke.
For more on CERN’s recent neutrino experiment and the controversy around it, click here.