Saturday, November 19, 2011

Can Cause Come After Effect?

It's looking like cause can come after effect. I can't even comprehend what that means.

Update, November 19, 2011: Remember this post below where a bunch of neutrinos were sent from Switzerland, through 454 miles of rock, to a lab in Italy? And it took them 0.0024 seconds, which was 60 billionths of a second faster than light would have taken (assuming light was traveling not through rock but through a vacuum)? Well, scientists conducted the experiment 20 more times and found the same thing:

Neutrino Experiment Repeat At Cern Finds Same Result, BBC


Originally posted September 22, 2011:

(The photo to the right shows tracks of a subatomic particle called a neutrino, which have just been found to be traveling faster than the speed of light.)

I'm not going to pretend that I understand, or even know very much about, Einstein's theory of relativity. But I was exposed to E=mc2 in University. In this equation, energy (E) is related to mass (m). That is, they are different forms of the same thing, and are related by c, the speed of light ... which is a constant. Or at least it was thought to be.

Faster Than Light Particles Found, Claim Scientists
Particle physicists detect neutrinos travelling faster than light, a feat forbidden by Einstein's theory of special relativity, The Guardian, September 22, 2011

Subir Sarkar, head of particle theory at Oxford University, said:
"If this is proved to be true it would be a massive, massive event. It is something nobody was expecting.

The constancy of the speed of light essentially underpins our understanding of space and time and causality, which is the fact that cause comes before effect.

Cause cannot come after effect and that is absolutely fundamental to our construction of the physical universe. If we do not have causality, we are buggered."


caulfieldkid said...

Not so fast:

Bix said...

Looking at those comments ... there are some pretty smart people in this world.

I wonder why they don't contact the authors and show them where they went wrong. They even invited this, "we are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result - because it is crazy."

caulfieldkid said...

I not trying to be a naysayer. I just keep readingstuff to the contrary.

I don't understand the full implications of either result, much less have a dog in the fight, but it's an interesting debate to follow.


Bix said...

Not to sound daffy, oh well ... to sound daffy, I think it's an exciting time to be alive. Just the fact that there's a particle that can travel near the speed of light - through rock - is enough for me.

I do enjoy the debate. It can get so emotional for something so scientific.

Bix said...

How can a particle that has mass, say a neutrino, travel faster than a particle with no mass, like a photon or a particle of light?

caulfieldkid said...

Just to follow this up (I hate loose ends). The scientist are now saying the measurements were bad due to faulty equipment.