Faster than the speed of light?

So in the last few days we have all been excited by the suggestion (here) that CERN may have sent some neutrinos either faster than the speed of light / backwards in time [which may be the same thing in Einstein’s General Relativity. I have worried (here) about Relativity before, so here I go again!

I don’t propose  to explain the tenets of Relativity here, just do some basic (partly informed analysis). See you after the break…


I think there there are three options which I cover below:

  • Bad data
  • Super-luminal (Faster Than Light – FTL) travel
  • Shorter Path

Bad data

In the most likely case there is something wrong with  the Italian data and to be fair this is the option that the scientists themselves expect to be the outcome. No-one is claiming to have broken Relativity just that they don’t understand their results. This is of course the dullest outcome for sci-fi fans!


Well they may have broken the light barrier and the particles arrived in Italy faster than light-speed would permit. This blows holes through a vast proportion of 20th century physics (so what!) and there is some counter evidence; there was a supernova event which triggered a swathe of neutrinos that arrived on Earth in tandem with the normal light. Unless the light itself went faster the vast distance implies that the neutrinos musty have travelled no faster than light else they would have arrived substantially earlier.

Shorter Path

The last theory (which is the one I like) is that the neutrinos travelled at light speed but took a shorter route. Maybe the CERN LHC has warped space and there was less distance to travel? This was always how I thought the Enterprise was meant to work in Star Trek!

This is actually a bit glib – if you can do tricks like these with space you can still go back in time (though not in a 1966 to re-watch the England World Cup game) more in a getting to the moon before a message you sent. This still upsets Einstein mind you! Who knows if true we could soon be into artificial gravity and forcefields.

Or with the collapse of Western Capitalism we will close CERN down as use it as a theme park!



About Tony Jones
Big Finish writer, reviewer and blogger, I'm interested in science fiction and Doctor Who. I review for CultBox, The Doctor Who Companion and others. I am also Lead Writer for Starburst Magazine, and write the occasional piece for Vortex, the BSFA critical magazine.

2 Responses to Faster than the speed of light?

  1. Pingback: Moon – 11 plus – FTL – Anti-Magnet « Reality Checkpoint

  2. Pingback: Tractor Beams – Mars – Bletchely Park – FTL « Reality Checkpoint

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