Remember a few months ago, when a group of scientists observed subatomic particles going faster than the speed of light, possibly overturning one of the foundational laws of Einsteinian physics? They just did it again. Or for the first time? Who can tell! Time is meaningless now!
The same group of researchers, Opera, repeated their experiment and found the same result: neutrinos beamed from the CERN facility in Geneva to the Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy showed up 58 billionths of a second faster than should theoretically be possible. Faster than light itself! They even changed one part of the experiment and still the neutrinos beat out light:
When these results were presented to a meeting at CERN in September, after a prairie fire of blog rumors, they were greeted by fierce skepticism. Among the problems with the original experiment, scientists said, was that the neutrinos were produced in bursts 10,000 billionths of a second long - much bigger than the discrepancy in arrival time.
Last month CERN retooled so that the neutrinos could be produced in shorter bursts, only 3 billionths of a second long, making it easier to match neutrinos at Gran Sasso with neutrinos at CERN, and the experiment was briefly repeated. The neutrinos still arrived early, about 62 billionths of a second early, in good agreement with the original result and negating the possibility, the Opera team said, that the duration of the neutrino pulse had anything to do with the results.
Of course, before you get excited and start smashing all your clocks with a hammer, be aware that scientists are acting pretty cocky about the whole thing: "One [interpretation] is that they have stumbled upon a revolutionary discovery; the other, on which I would place my bet, is that they are still making and not finding the very same error," CERN theorist Alvaro de Rujula told The New York Times.