back to article Rock star physicist Cox: Neutrinos won't help us cheat time

Fire up the DeLorean and grab the almanac, time travel is here... or maybe not. Atom-smashers at CERN's subterranean Alpine lab seized the headlines recently when they found a set of subatomic particles once obscure outside the world of boffinry had turned scientific convention on its head by travelling faster than light. …


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  1. TeeCee Gold badge

    "'s not something obvious you see on Twitter."

    There are other, simpler, discoveries in physics that have been made by studying what's on Twitter?

    Do tell.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      . <-- The point You -->

      The point is that many people have been suggesting overly simplistic potential solutions on Twitter, Cox is saying that these have already been thought of. He's not saying that you can make scientific discoveries by looking at Twitter.

    2. Thomas 4

      Very well

      By analysing Twitter, we can deduce that stupidity travels faster than the speed of sound, using a set of particles known as morons.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Absolutely first class!

    3. Ru

      Commentards take note

      Cox is referring to Inevitable Internet Omniscience Syndrome, something that pops up everywhere that a bunch of people with a bare minimum of knowledge congregate and discuss things they don't really understand, combined with a fair bit of bashing academics and specialists who despite having worked on the problem for many, many years lack the piercing insight of a forum troll who can see the simple solution in moments.

      Cox is a fair bit more polite about the issue that I could be, or indeed the guilty parties deserve.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I reckon you really wanted to add: Just look at any discussion about Climate Change on this web site.

      2. Rob Dobs

        No place for new thought?

        Agree that bashing the professional academics (especially on personal level) is uncalled for, but you seem to imply that anyone who is not already a professional scientist can't have a good idea? I seem to recall part of Einsteins success was that he didn't buy into the current accepted rules, and proposed what he thought made better sense, same with many other great thinkers and revolutionaries who challenged established thought?

        Sometimes, like maybe when all of science seems to agree that nothing can move faster than light speed, it takes a so called "person of minimum" knowledge to not know or accept this and actually maybe prove it wrong?

        And yes even the smartest minds sometimes miss the obvious, and sometimes the simplest minds discover it.....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          re: Einstein

          Einstein wrote papers which were accepted into journals and peer reviewed, his ideas were new, but they were backed up with hard science and the review from others. It was certainly not all people who liked him, especially at first, but suggesting that this equates to a bunch of people commenting on the Internet with no other knowledge of the subject, other than their personal theory, just doesn't stack up.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Gullible journos ...

            "'It doesn't mean I can build a new time machine to shine into the past and tell myself the share price performance of today,' he says of the neutrino findings. Damn."

            Yeah ... um ... scientific truth is a collectivist enterprise, not whatever your favourite media whore says it is. That's as true for climate change as it is for particle physics.

            Mr Cox is a performer, always has been, always will be. In this instance, he may be better informed than your average journotard, but he's still speculating, offering an opinion that hasn't and won't be subjecting to the rigors of the scientific method.

            We don't call that science. Okay?

            Beyond highlighting how much Brian Cox has become your Stephen Fry, what is the point of this article? Man has opinion?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              it's reportage

              Of a Reg sponsored event, at which Brian Cox was a speaker. Why would they exclude it?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward


                It's not reportage of an event. It's reportage of Brian Cox's opinion on something.

                Here's another of his opinions:

                "Science is a process and climate modelling is very difficult, although climate models are good now."

                Does that make him a fraud and a cheat and now worthy only of ridicule?

          2. Keep Refrigerated

            Perhaps a better example then...

            ... would be Thomas Huxley.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This whole speedy neutrino business has no scientific merit whatsoever

    I think if we're going to crack this whole time travel thing we need to do what Superman did at the end of Superman The Movie and fly really really fast around the Earth until its rotation changes.

    It worked for Superman; Lois Lane died and then he brought her back to life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Superman did not change the rotation of the earth at the end of Superman: The Movie. That wouldn't reverse time on the planet below.

      No, Superman used the earth's gravitation pull to allow him to fly faster than light (which is why we see him flying into his own image from the previous orbit resulting in the stretched out "bands" of Superman image that we see circling the planet) allowing *him* to go back in time so he can save Lois.

      Because this shit is important to remember when discussing FTL neutrinos in real-life science. I think I've been nerdbaited.

      1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

        The explanation given by one of the films makers at the time of the film's release was that Superman simply flew backwards around the planet several times in order to go back in time by the simple expedient of crossing the international dateline backwards. Which of course wouldn't work.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        same would happen

        sauntering past a suitably massive body with appropriately large rotational velocity. I think people. Are attempting to esign experimental apparatus to test the theory on subatomic particles. Can't remember where I read about it though.

      3. matibee

        God Damn. The thought that Superman could reverse time by locally affecting the spin of the earth has irked me since I was 9. Superman is a hero again. Thank you.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby

      I think you're missing the point...

      It's not a question of breaking the Cause and effect, but in explains why something appears to be moving faster than c, the speed of light.

      In the other article i was trying to explain how it's possible...

      Here in this article they talk about representing 3Dspace as the surface of a paper. If its flat, and nothing can move faster than c, all things will hit the target at the same time.

      But what if the paper wasn't flat?

      Now the laws of physics still have light, gravity etc moving along the paper's surface.

      Again taking the same amount of time. But if the neutrinos still moving at c aren't restricted to moving along the paper's surface, you will see them hitting the target sooner than the photons.

      The question is what is causing the surface of the paper to bend?

      My bet is gravity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Space-time is already bent by gravity. Einstein wrote quite a lot about it. It's long-established.

        The concept that neutrinos are short-cutting via higher dimensions suggested by M-Theory has also long been on the table. Simply stating 'they're taking a short-cut through... um something' is exactly the kind of 'this isn't going to be solved by suggestions on Twitter' kind of comment that Dr. C was referencing.

        1. Chemist

          "Space-time is already bent by gravity"

          Noooooooooooooooooooooo !

          That's not General Relativity - it's almost the opposite

          The presence of matter & energy curves spacetime - the effect of moving through 'bent' spacetime is *perceived* as a fictitious force called gravity.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Gravity is a force that acts on mass, which may or may not be an 'frictive' effect of motion through the Higgs field. Either the Standard Model is bang on or it's way off.

            If what they are observing at Opera is a real effect and not due to systematic or statistical error it could provide an insight into experimental designs to test M theory - which is exiting.

        2. Ian Michael Gumby


          I am not trying solve the problem. What I am saying is that you don't need to find something exotic to explain it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Ian Michael Gumby

        If the paper wasn't flat, then anything not stuck to its surface would just wizz off into empty 'space', and not even hit the same target.

        The real question is What is causing the errors in the Italians measurements?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm still not convinced.

    The neutrinos arrived early by the time light travels in 18 metres. The size of the detector? about 18 metres!

    1. JMac

      That's quite insightful

      I think you should email CERN pronto!

      1. Code Monkey


        Or put it on Twitter

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yes, and this all happened around 11/11/11, which reads the same forwards as backwards. Surely some significance there when talking about things going "backwards" in time.

    3. burnard
      Facepalm mate.

      The Neutrinos travelled from Cern, Geneva to Gran Sasso. They travelled 732km.

      1. Esskay

        But, but, but...

        Geneva - G - the *7th* letter of the alphabet

        CERN - C - the *Third* letter of the alphabet

        San Grasso - *Two words*



        Fuck yes.

    4. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      "The neutrinos arrived early by the time light travels in 18 metres. The size of the detector? about 18 metres!"

      Wow you're so clever. I bet nobody at CERN thought of that.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wow... I'm sure several hundred PhDs never though of that! Best you post something to @ProfBrianCox right away! :oD

  4. Anonymous Coward


    MS Windows has been breaking the relationship between cause & effect for a long time...

    Where's the recognition and fame it deserves???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but there is hope....

      ...if indeed if the speed of light is really surpased and the laws of physics have to be rewritten, then the dominance of Linux on the desktop, for so long spewed out by fanbouys may really happen....

      Or is that to far fetched?

  5. Mr Nobody 1

    Prof Cox ?

    The trouble with the good professor i find is that his on screen persona indicates that his surname should be in the singular rather than the plural.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Damn those who strive for the public understanding and popularisation of science.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Popularisation of Science? Public Understanding?

        If you can't do the maths you can't do the science. This "popularisation of science" crap misses the point that pop science is usually wrong science, with a load of misleading verbiage where some variational calculus should be . And it is only ever interesting to those already interested.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Jealousy is a terrible thing...

  6. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up


    Odd choice of example. It seems that with a few trillion dollars we could build a SUPER fast trans-light, trans-atlantic link for High Frequency Trading. Shave those naneseconds!

    Sub-ether radio, anyone?

  7. Cratig


    What's the issue?

    I reckon it's something along the lines of a new dimension - I'm talking the analogy of 2D beings seeing 3D objects - Could it be that we, humans, are only able to observe things in 1 time-stream and that actually, time is multi-vectored?

    If it isn't a calculation error, then it my theory above could explain the reason we can't seem to do much with neutrinos, because they are just 'side-stepping' in the other dimension slightly.

    And BTW, no - I'm not a scientist or claim to play one!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I think you have to flesh it out a bit more, before you can refer to it as a theory!!

  8. Anonymous Coward


    They just need some jump leads and Starbug.

    It's all in the captains message. The one that's hidden in the microdot in the 'i' in Einstein's swimming certificate.

  9. Tony Paulazzo

    Not a scientist but, aren't neutrino's really small, like sub atomic particles? which would place them in the quantum area of physical laws, which don't function at all like Newtonian physics and pretty much do their own thing. Surely scientists should be surprised if neutrino's didn't travel faster than light.

    Quantum Physics is what makes physics fun :-)

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      FFS that's what these people deal in every day. They are, if you like, quantum mechanics (sorry).

      The universal speed limit is nothing to do with Newtonian physics anyway. It *is* quantum physics and one of the building blocks thereof. That's not to say I don't think that neutrino's couldn't exceed the speed of light, but if they do the laws of quantum physics would need to be rewritten.

    2. Juillen 1

      Neutrino's what?

      Oh, you mean neutrinos plural!

  10. Ageless Stranger

    The answer to time travel

    88 mph

    Everyone knows that...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That would worry me. I can't think of many historical periods where arriving at 88mph would be a good thing.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time has nothing to do with space...

    Light is an observation of matter we currently can see, time is another - the two dont go hand in hand and time travel IS impossible... The sooner we accept this the better...

    Just start working on FTL drives and I expect that we will start observing new stuff..or better still... Let the wookie win....

  12. Chris Miller

    Those of us lucky enough to be at Live2011 saw that he's much better in person than on screen*. He started by saying something like: "I've been asked to speak on the work being done at CERN, but since I've been told you're all a bunch of geeks (guilty), I thought I'd try to explain why neutrinos travelling faster than light would be such a big deal". He then proceeded to give the clearest explanation I've seen of why faster than light information transfer would break cause and effect (if Einstein is correct). The best presentation of an extremely good day.

    * Where he can be all too easily parodied - as all those sub-Culshaw spoofs on YouTube demonstrate.

  13. burnard

    Check your facts please author

    " Fellow scientists in November claimed to have disputed the faster-than-light Neutrino findings – after the CERN OPERA physicists that produced the results had themselves run them again just to make sure."

    That's not true. The results disputing the finding were published in October BEFORE the second experiment by OPERA. In fact the results for the energy of the Neutrinos is from the same experiement that first produced the faster than light result. The results were re-published in November so they appear to have been after the second experiment, and the media have jumped on them. The results are from the same data as the first experiment. They have no bearing on the result of the second experiment. They don't disprove the result anyway, just add to the pile of questions surrounding this event.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Other things about the article that made me cringe:

      >"It's the foundation of cause and effect, and dictates that when throwing a brick through a window you see the movement of the brick through the air and towards the window before the window shatters – not vice-versa."

      The principle of cause and effect is a lot older than Einstein, and relativity showed how it was in fact dependent on your frame of reference and that the same two events could occur in one order in one frame, the other in another or be simultaneous as seen from a third.

      >"Space-time, according to Einsteinian thinking, puts the 3D world of space on a flat plane along with time to calculate the way we observe events."

      "Puts the 3D world of space on a flat plane"? What is that even supposed to mean?

      >"Ninety-nine percent of the energy in a dying star is emitted by neutrinos, but it is light that has reached the observers on Earth first, not neutrinos"

      No, the neutrinos reached here first - the light has to struggle its way up through the infalling dense outer layers of the collapsing star, where the neutrinos just sail through it without interacting. The problem is that the neutrinos only got here four hours ahead of the light, rather than the four years we'd have expected if they were travelling the same amount faster than light that the OPERA measurements suggest.

      This was not a good day for the public comprehension of science. The article attempts to simplify matters for a lay audience but just ends up getting them flat wrong.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    tosh - wikipedia science

    The problem with all of this is that it is complete tosh. The theory of special relativity (and clasical mechanics) has 3 possible outcomes

    1) something travels slower than light and would require infinite amounts of energy to get it to light speed (ordinary mass)

    2) something is stuck travelling at the speed of light (photons)

    3) something travels faster that light to start with and can never drop below light speed without destruction.

    It happens because in classic mechanics you can have a negative velocity that is the squared (basic kinetic energy) therefore making it a positive so at lower than light speeds the energy of the particle would be negative, e.g. non-existent which happens quite a lot in theories like dropping to absolute zero where a particle has no energy so can have no mass. It's perfectly possible to travel faster than light but only if one starts faster so in "the real world" one would require negative energies and mass. Possibly CERN generated neutrinos of this type but probably not. How is light altered by gravity in the parallel plane if gravitons aren't particles faster than light ? (and so giving use the red shift used to correct astronomical observations to give us an idea of the make up of stars). Just because no theoretical model has predicted that a neutrino could be created starting off faster than light doesn't mean it couldn't have happened. Stating that something is "impossible" based on a theory is a dodgy starting point for any discussion, otherwise we'd still be stuck with Newtonian mechanics. Best to see if the experiment can be replicated by a different lab.

    I blame the media and the second paragraph of wikipedia on lightspeed myself.

  15. bert_fe

    You comentards have as much knowledge of subatomic physics as you have on global warming. None! Bert

  16. George Nacht

    My mistake

    When I read the headline, I imagined Courteney Cox going all Stephen Fry on the basics of the modern physics. My mistake, sorry.

    Interesting, anyway. Contemporary scientists generally are not very eager to publicize such shocking revelations, unless they have it thoroughly backed up. CERN is quite solid institution, as far as I know. It´s not like an interference from running electric can opener would screw their readings. I look forwards further news.

  17. jabuzz

    Relativity and speed of light

    I am getting sick of all this stuff that relativity says nothing can go faster than light. IT SAYS NO SUCH THING. What it does say is that nothing with a none zero rest mass can be accelerated through the speed of light, which is something entirely different. So photons which have zero rest mass always zip around at the speed of light, things with real mass can never get to the speed of light, and if we can ever find anything with imaginary mass they can never slow down below the speed of light.

    Finally anything that can warp space time could take a short cut and appear to be moving faster than light to an observer while never actually doing so.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Relativity blah blah blah

      "nothing with a non zero rest mass can be accelerated through the speed of light"

      Close but no cigar, it should be "to" not "through" or more pedantically:

      "nothing with a non zero rest mass can attain the speed of light"

      because saying “through” implies that it can be reached, which it cannot.

      Here, do the maths yourself:

      M (motion) = M (rest) / SqRoot( 1 - (v^2 / c^2) )

      Where M = Mass, c = Speed of Light, v = velocity, ^2 = squared

      This shows an object approaching the SoL gains apparent mass until at the SoL it has infinite mass, beyond the SoL the mass becomes imaginary which may cause some problems in the real universe (or possibly not).

      So yes nothing can (or at least should be able to) move from moving at the SoL or above or below it to any other one of the 3 states.

      As for “short cuts” like warping or hyperspace or infinite improbability drives or Harry Harrison’s splendid Bloater Drive, bring ‘em on, with any luck one of them will actually work.

      Assuming the equation is correct and there is a vast body of empirical evidence to support it, we can say for certain that nothing with mass has been accelerated to the SoL because the gravitational effect of an object with infinite mass would be noticed, the destruction of the universe would be a subtle clue.

      1. Just Thinking

        Imaginary mass?

        What is all this imaginary mass business?

        Imaginary numbers were invented by mathematicians and turned out to have some interesting properties and practical applications.

        They don't tell us anything about the physical world.

        Just because an equation has a square root in it doesn't mean there is some special undiscovered physics with imaginary properties. Would an object have negative kinetic energy if it was travelling at an imaginary velocity?

  18. Annihilator

    Irony overload

    Article which mentions Cox saying "of course we've thought of this, it's also a lot more complicated" towards armchair physicists results in armchair physicists commenting with their own half-assed theories...

  19. Adam Inistrator

    bert or berk

    maybe, bert ... but most science (especially pseudo science, lol) is viewed through the prism of human nature ... and on that topic non-scientists are often better

  20. Nixon

    Brian Cox.

    Yes please.

  21. dave 81

    The Barman says, "sorry, we don't serve neutrinos here."

    A neutrino walks into a bar.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Classic joke,

      shame most people I tell it to just dont get it!

      1. Just Thinking

        Took me a minute or two :)

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon


          "Took me a minute or two :)"

          before or after it was posted?

          1. Just Thinking

            Oh sh*t that took me a minute or two as well!

      2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Very true. I find most people don't even get it before I've told them

  22. Hairy Airey

    AC doesn't understand General Relativity...

    ... which claims that moving clocks tick slower. This has been proven with the GPS system as their clocks have to adjust for the high speed they are travelling at when orbiting around the earth.

    However, the two assumptions that particles with mass cannot travel faster than light and that the speed of light is constant are very difficult to prove.

    1. Poor Coco
      Thumb Down

      “High speed”?

      While a satellite may move quickly compared to, say, a car, it is FAR FAR FAR slower than relativistic speed.

      The relativistic time compensation required for GPS relates to the fact that here, deep in Earth’s gravity well, time runs more slowly. Has nothing at all to do with the motion of the satellites.

  23. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Bad Science

    Obviously they are going to question any observations that challenge current theories, but it seems to me that the scientific community is going out of it's way to explain away these inconvenient findings. Surely what they should be trying to do is simply explain the findings and if this causes them to modify Einstein's theories then so be it.

    The surprise to me at least is that they are not embracing these findings as something that opens up a whole new field of research. After all this would mean more funding and job security. Plus of course a chance for somebody to make a big name for themself. After all there would surely be lasting fame for the person who proved Einstein wrong.

    It seems we have a similar problem here to the one we have with global warming. Too many people are treating Einsteins theories as articles of faith.

    Question everything.

    1. Chemist

      "trying to do is simply explain the findings"

      Oh, good grief !!

      What they will be doing first is to try and duplicate the finding, preferably somewhere else with different equipment

      Only on the basis of good hard experimental results that disagree with SR ( which has HUGE existing experimental support ) will there be a need for theorists to get involved.

      Anything else is pure speculation for speculation's sake

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Do you have a PHd in anything? No.

      You are totally unqualified to second guess what is going on here.

      You are correct in one thing though: We do have a problem here that is similar to the problem with Global Warming. Lots of people who don't know enough about a subject to understand that they don't know enough about it to comment on it seem to think that they can question senior academics about it on a par with them. This is while at the same time shouting that it's all a giant conspiracy and that the academics are on some sort of gravy train. (Do you know how much they get paid? It's sod all.)

    3. arrbee

      Standard scientific approach - extraordinary findings require extraordinary (levels of) evidence. The next step will be to see is someone can get a similar result using completely different equipment.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Utter failure to even understand the word 'science'


      I'd recommend you take a look at 'scientific method' in Wiki.

      Measurable and repeatable are two key words here.

      When someone claims to invent cold fusion, the scientific world does not immediately run around going 'yay' and fist-bumping. Nor should you do the same with any other finding which defies both current theories and other experiments which were designed to test the same thing. The speed of Neutrinos has already been measured and found not to break the speed of light; which is why people are first looking at experimental error.

      If I were to claim to have turned wine into water, would you 'embrace it', or would you say 'ok... show me?'.

      You ensure that there is no experimental error, and you repeat the experiment. At present, people are repeating the experiment, and attempting to find any experimental errors.

      The world of Physics is doing it's damnedest to open up new fields of research. Thousands of people in the field will be over the moon if the findings are true. But running around saying they are without repeating the experiment is just the kind of bad science that you are labelling the converse as.

      1. Just Thinking

        "If I were to claim to have turned wine into water, would you 'embrace it', or would you say 'ok... show me?'."

        I can turn wine into water. Kind of. Would you really want to watch?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Psyx

      "Question everything."


      1. Luther Blissett

        @Psyx - "Question everything." Why?

        That way you will realize that "Question everything." should have a ? at the end not a.

        1. Psyx

          A question mark at the end of a directive statement?


    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It might be a few decades...

      It took a few decades between the Michelson-Morley findings (which were repeated and cross-checked with other experiments first), and Einstein's relativity. Don't hold your breath for overnight upheaval....

  24. Cratig

    nothing can speed upto speed of light?

    Just had a thought - If nothing can speed up to the speed of light without requiring infinite energy, how the hell do torches and light bulbs and lasers etc work?

    I didn't realise the 2 AAs in my torch created infinity energy, there was me thinking they created 3 volts!

    1. TheCloudTheCloud

      I think you're confused.

      Obviously light does not have infinite energy! Photons (light) have negligable (infinitely small) mass which effectively allows light to be so fast. It is arguable whether photons have any mass at all.

    2. completely_hatstand


      Nothing **with mass** can accelerate to c.... photons don't they just pop into existance at light speed.


      1. Dan 55 Silver badge


        What happens if you have two masses travelling in opposite directions at 3/4 c?

        From each other's point of view they've just accelerated past c.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          To find the answer to your question look up more-or-less any article on relativity written in the past 100 years.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.....

          Or were you serious??!

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge


            It wasn't explained to me at A Level physics. Or I wasn't paying attention. I shall read Wikipedia, I'm sure it'll have a reliable peer-reviewed explanation. Oh no, it's full of articles of people writing as if the reader already was an expert or just wrong.

            I do wish there were more boring Open University programmes presented by people in kipper ties explaining things in mind-numbing detail and less of . While the visuals might look pretty and he might be getting his enthusiasm across he's exactly not telling me much.


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward


              basically, the central tenet of special relativity is that the speed of light (ie maximum speed, also called C) is fixed for all observers, everywhere, no matter what they are doing, or how they are moving.

              so your question about what happens when two masses / observers are moving toward / away from each other at close-to the speed of light has some interesting consequences. If both observes always agree on what the maximum speed limit is, and neither of them observe the other going faster than it, ... then they must disagree on how the other is experiencing time.

              (and when you start looking at other equations, you see that mass, and even length are effected by travelling fast,... but not the speed C).

              look up "time dilation" in youtube. there are over a thousand videos.

              this has nice visualization, though no words.


              yes, A-level physics unfortunately does little more than teach children how to fill in multiple choice papers or memorize answers, i did it too. but most of the concepts are actually pretty simple (though not intuitive), and only need basic math (algebra rearranging) to start make clear points.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge


                Thank you, sir.

                Will use that as a starting point when I get some free time (at this rate, when I retire, if they'll still let you retire then).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why not go and read a wiki article on it, if curious; instead of raising the point somewhere where your enquiries will be met with a flamethrower from the wise, and misinformation from the uninformed?

  25. Louis Savain
    Thumb Down

    RockStar Physicists Have No Clue

    So physicists have no idea why the speed of light is the speed limit. Was it a guess all along? It sure seems that way, doesn't it? Otherwise, they would know that the neutrino FTL result was in error and the whole nonsense would have never made the news.

    Truth is, if physicists really had a clue about the nature of motion, they would know that the speed of light is not just the fastest speed in the universe but the *only* speed in the universe. Nothing can move faster or slower. A body that seems to be moving at a much slower speed than c is really making a series of quantum jumps at c, with lots of wait periods in between. This is true no matter how smooth motion appears at the macroscopic level.

    And if physicists really understood the causality of motion, they would also know that we are moving in an immense lattice of energetic particles without which there could be no motion. Google "Physics: The Problem with Motion" if you really want to understand motion. Believe me, you don't understand motion even if you think you do. And while you're at it, Google "Why Space (Distance) Is an Illusion" for more surprises.

    1. Toastan Buttar

      Crackpot bloggers have no clue (about physics, computers, experimental evidence...)

      "Truth is, if physicists really had a clue about the nature of motion, they would know that the speed of light is not just the fastest speed in the universe but the *only* speed in the universe. Nothing can move faster or slower."

      Physicists do indeed know that everything in the universe travels through space-time at exactly the speed of C. This was beautifully explained in the popular-science book "Why Does E=MC2 (and Why Should We Care)?" written by.......oh, that'd be rockstar physicist Brian Cox. No need for a series of quantum jumps, either.

      So much fail in so short a post.

      It's Friday afternoon. If you fancy wasting a few hours before hitting the pub, google "Louis Savain". YOUR HEAD ASPLODE.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Those clueless people have done a mighty fine job of carving out the theories that put man on the moon, regularly fires stuff into orbit, and created the technology on which fewls who know nothing about physics claim that those people who hold physics degrees have 'no idea'.

      Your armchair physics am totally fayle.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My word. You really are a crackpot, aren't you?

      Having just checked out your website, your 'theory' on motion lacks ANY experimental or mathematical proof. You've had a crazy idea; and wrote it down. I've just had an idea about anti-matter tasting like fudge! I think I'll blog it, then rally on anyone who in any way attempts to deconstruct it.

      Before attempting to tear down the physics on which our world is built, you need to understand it. You clearly don't. Your theories show a real lack of basic understanding.

      "When I am ready to demonstrate the power of the lattice, I will do so. And I will not do it for your benefit nor your approval. You people in the physics community are in no position to dictate anything to me. You are a bunch of crackpots who believe in magic and teach generations of young people to do likewise." - You

      Says the self-professed Christian. You believe in magic, and teach generations of young people to do likewise, too... albeit without any actual evidence, unlike science teachers.

      "Part of my thesis is that there are only four dimensions, no more and no less, but this is something that I am not prepared to write about at this time. I just want to approach the subject from a less philosophical angle. The lattice must be at least 3-D since we can observe three dimensions. Why is there a need for a fourth dimension? The reason is simple: if the lattice was 3-D, it would quickly run out of energy because the lattice particles interact with normal matter and are jettisoned from their positions of origin and sent flying in all directions. Empty areas would be created everywhere and this would drastically diminish movement. This is not observed. Therefore, in order to keep the observable 3-D universe moving and doing its thing, it must be refreshed with a new lattice at every instant!" - You

      I don't think I can read any more. My IQ is draining away by reverse osmosis over the Internet by attempting to do so.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I don't believe in the peer review process. Physics is in a sorry state precisely because of the peer review process. Peer review is synonymous with a$$ review in my opinion. So why would I want to publish my ideas in your so-called "respected" journals? I despise them and I refuse to take part in their political (i.e., ass-kissing) shenanigans.

      Yes, I know that I am a nut job in the eyes of the scientific community but that suits me just fine. In fact, as a rebel, I like it that way. My eventual vindication and triumph will be all the more sweeter."

      -Louis Savain

      You forgot to add the maniacal laughter.

    5. John Brookes

      I think I'll stick with rockstar physicists.....

      ...over muppets who advertise their own self-contradictory mumbo-jumbo. I've just read your articles. Yeesh

      You do realise that many of the denizens of this place are scientists, engineers and other sorts of folk you can't abide?

      Some standard steps in science according to the world at large:

      1) Make a new observation. Check it.

      2) Get other people to see if they can see it too

      3) Postulate an explanation for what you've seen. Check it.

      4) Get other people to see if your postulated explanation works with their related, or independent observations

      5a) Try and make a prediction using your explanation that differs from prevailing explanations - see if it happens

      or if 5a not possible

      5b) Use your explanation and existing data to attempt to accurately post-dict real events

      6) Repeat 5 until dead, retired or bored of the topic

      If you fail at any point, go back to 1)

      Scientific method according to Louis Savain:

      1) Have a particularly vivid dream

      2) Convince yourself that it is both right and obvious

      3) Have a quick google to see if you can find any off-the-cuff remarks from long-dead philosophers, natural philosophers or scientists that don't entirely contradict your dream

      4) Publish (NB self-editing for blatant contradictions is not only optional, but to be discouraged)

      5) Slag off anyone who contradicts you

      If you fail at step 2, you're not trying hard enough, if you fail at 3, just skip it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "CERN's subterranean Alpine lab"

    It's actually under the foothills of the Jura, not the Alps.

  27. Herbert Meyer

    Fermi's joke

    Neutrinos are an explanation of the violation of conservation of energy in Beta Decay, made up by Fermi, in the 1930's as a joke. Their existence was not demonstrated until the 1950's, in observations at Nuclear Reactors. Almost every experiment involving neutrinos, like the Solar Neutrino observations, has produced puzzling results.This joke has gone on long enough, we do not understand neutrinos.

  28. Dom 3

    Quantum, innit.

    If there's no systematic cockup, that is.

  29. g e

    But but but...

    Isn't all speed relative? There's no absolute zero-point of speed to measure anything relative TO is there?

    In the LHC, for example you bung some particles in opposite directions round Ye Ringe at 0.8c, say but doesn't one particle 'see' the other (or not, thinking about it) approaching at 1.6c? Relative to itself, of course, but all the same...

    So is it then impossible for any object in the universe to 'see' another approaching it at >2.0c ? (obviously photons travelling head on to each other should be at 2c relative).

    1. DJO Silver badge


      So many words, so little understanding!

      Look up "Time Dilation" - Here's a quick précis, as velocity tend towards the SoL time slows. An object such as a photon moving at the SoL is not subject to time at all so from the perspective* of a photon the whole universe is stationary.

      Nothing is "obvious" in the quantum world!

      *Apologies for the anthromorphication of the photon but at twenty to five on a Friday I’m never going to bother to explain it properly.

    2. Poor Coco

      That is essentially it...

      Since there are many effects involved with relativistic speeds (time dilation, length contraction, mass increase etc.) the observer sitting on an LHC proton at .99999c would see the other photon (which, to the boffin in the control room, is also moving at .99999c) approaching at, say, .999999999c or so — but still possessing the appropriate amount of kinetic energy.

      However, it is NOT true that massive physical objects can’t APPARENTLY move faster than light w.r.t. each other; the expansion of space itself, which results in the redshift of distant galaxies, results in APPARENT motion at speeds greater than c if you look at points more than about 20 billion light-years away. This is further than the 14-or-so-billion-light-year limit imposed by the fact space was opaque for a while after the Big Bang; but it is nevertheless accurate.

    3. Chemist

      "universe to 'see' another approaching it at >2.0c "

      Worst than that.

      The two proton beams at the LHC each almost travel at c. To an observer outside the beam it appears that the closing speed is ~2c, but to an observer traveling with a proton the closing speed will always appear to be <c

      It's one of the reasons relativity always appears so bizarre to non-relativitists Worth looking up 4-velocity.

    4. Dom 3

      Velocity addition

      Plug 0.8 + 0.8 in to it and you get 0.976.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The whole space/time/lightspeed connection is just wrong and physicists need to wake up like their forefathers before and admit they were wrong, again.

    The speed of light is just that, a speed. There is no universal rule saying that just because a photon in a vacuum travels at 'c', nothing can travel faster. Bollocks. That's just what our current, limited undertstanding tells us and what the maths says - the very maths that was created from what we currently understand to describe and 'prove' what we currently understand!

    Time is not linked to the speed of light, whatever the rules currently say. Why should it be? Now, observable time, that is linked to the speed of light since we are limited to obeserving and measuring anything by that speed maximum but just because something travelling faster than 'c' would appear to act strangely to us and to any measurements, it is not really changed at all.

    Just because something may appear to arrive before it was sent doesn't mean it travelled back in time. It did arrive after it was sent it's just that any observation or measurement of when it was sent is limited to 'c'.

    Clocks in orbit losing time as evidence of time dilation? Absolute proof that they have experienced time dilation or just proof that atomic clocks can run slower in certain conditions?

    As to "Why Does E=MC2" - Of course it does, it was 'created' to do so just as any equation you think up linking one existing value to another newly created one via a large constant. It simply equates energy with mass. Energy is mass except that they wanted energy to be a very large number so they decided to multiply it by the square of c. There is no connection between energy and the speed of light beyond this equation. It's a bit of a con really and nothing special.

    1. Chemist

      This is the most blatant ignoring of data ..

      That I've read in a long time.

      No wonder you're an AC

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're joking/trolling, right?

      The vast majority of our physics works in a provable manner. Which is why we have computers, atomic bombs, aircraft, internal combustion engines and electron microscopes. You can't just claim it was 'made up' because people wanted to tie numbers together.

  31. Hoodlum

    "It's a beautiful example of how you do science," Cox said. "The collaboration of serious people at CERN who've proved published their results and it's gone to peer review. I can see the headlines now if it's shown to be a measurement error, it will be: 'Look at these idiots'. But that's not the point. This is how science proceeds."

    Except climate science, where an assumption is made and then only supporting evidence is searched for.

    1. Geoffrey Swenson
      Thumb Down

      Recently a physicist using money from the US fossil-fuel / liberatarian Koch brothers to analyze all of the historical measurements since the invention of accurate thermometers.

      This physicist had long accused the climatetologists of poor methodology and bad analysis of the data, so he started out from scratch with new algorithms to correct the biases in the data based on the best available information.

      Geesh, from almost an entirely diffferent perspective, but using prinicples of science, they arrived at pretty much the same answer.

      Global warming is real, though you would think otherwise if you read stuff on this website only.

  32. bahamut

    there is nothing particular in this discovery

    The relativity theory stated an upper limit for speed correctly, according to the observations. Einstein`s big failure was to state that light itself possesses this maximum speed. No clear evidence proved this, although the two speeds are very near to each other.

    Neutrinos are just more closer to the maximum speed, but we still don`t know if they reach it or not.

  33. Madboater

    This isn't twitter so...

    "Albert Einstein concluded in 1905 that no object can be accelerated to the speed of light;", well it is no longer 1905 so that rule doesn't apply any more!

  34. bahamut

    and from now on

    we have to call the maximum speed "neutrinospeed" instead of "lightspeed".

  35. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    To recap about half of this thread . . .

    "I know nothing about science whatsoever, but here's why learned physicists are wrong!"

  36. disgruntled yank


    I thought that Brian May was only rock-star physicist out there.

  37. alwarming
    Paris Hilton

    Cox Talks Pro Bono, Anachrono Neutrino is a No No.

    Maybe Paris can go back in time and make a lesbian tape with herself ?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rock star?

    Think the contradiction inherent in calling someone partially responsible for "things can only get better" a Rock star may be greater than that of neutrinos apparently exceeding the speed of light. It also singularly fails to open up any intriguing possibilities and simply serves to irritate those of us who firmly believe pop != Rock. I don't recall many post-pub/spliff conversations where you ask what everyone fancies listeng to and someone pipes up; " Nah, I'm really bored of Motorhead and Clapton - why not stick some D-ream on". I know we're supposed to live in a world where everything is exactly the same in terms of musical merit, but some things just aren't.

    Just fucking wrong, no Einstein, maths or LHC needed.

    1. Toastan Buttar

      The wrong definition of "Rock Star"

      People have decribed Shigeru Miyamoto as a "rockstar games designer" but no-one is claiming that Wii Music is a "rock music" game.


      1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

        He was also in Dare. Not a successful band I'll grant, but they could claim to be a proper rock band with proper rock roots. Any band who's front man is ex-Lizzy counts as a rock band to me.

  39. Ian Cumbers

    When is a fact, not a fact?

    I'm not qualified to talk about Quantum/Relativity theories as I don't have a Twitter account, but that won't stop me...

    The thing I find slightly irritating is that some 'experts' are too often cock-sure that 'facts' are static - but they aren't. Facts (or 'truth') are relative (sorry) to our understanding at any one moment in time. Scientific history is littered with 'immutable facts' over the centuries (earth is flat, thylidamide is safe, Norwich will never make it to the Premier league).

    Knowledge is always constrained by the bounderies of our understanding. As our understanding expands, so does our knowledge. It may not be verbally elegant, but adding "... to the best of our current understanding" to the end of every 'factual' comment by an expert would be more accurate.

    And wasn't Brian Cox just saying that *if* these incy-wincy particles were travelling faster than light, we would just need to adjust our understanding and come up with an alternative theory that explained all the 'facts' as we see them? The world won't end... well, not for ages.

  40. JDX Gold badge

    re:Imaginary mass, Rockstar physicists

    1. "Imaginary numbers" are not imaginary. They were not 'invented', at least no more so that regular numbers were... which is to say both _were_ invented/discovered.

    2. Feynman would also today be described as a 'Rockstar' - keen on popularizing science, liked talking to people, charismatic, etc. Attacking a scientist simply because they don't spend every hour in a lab avoiding human contact is asinine

  41. KBeee


    As was once written on a toilet wall

    "Relativity is like an erection - the more you think about it the harder it gets"

  42. Frumious Bandersnatch

    nothing changes

    the only constant thing is still c^Hgeometry.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One of the possibles was extra dimension stuff. It would need additional things like the Hubble limit to allow energy the dark stuff to expand but matter to be on the way in to connect it like some TOE. Then give a rotation twist to the thermals in the galaxy and angular bending of the local fluff to keep the solar system in the chimney. In addition zero point energy would have to be seriously downgraded to make it connect universal like. Then if they get all that they are on their way to discovering atoms aren't what they think they are. Might take a while and a few large bumps.

  44. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    It may an effect of running the experiment inside earth's gravity field

    So you know what that means

    "Please can we have £567 thousand billion to build a LHC in space?"

  45. hybrid

    Time and gravity

    Where are all the space/time believers? Gravity changes time they, say, so neutrinos traveling nearer the cg of earth as they travel through it have their time changed?

    I don't believe this what does it but that is another story. See "The Dynamic Ether"

    1. Chemist

      "Where are all the space/time believers?"

      Every time anyone uses a GPS they are getting data that has been adjusted for the effect of spacetime being distorted by Earth's mass.

  46. c4m1k4z3

    Let us simplify the definition


  47. Lord Midas

    Hang on...

    Superman flew against the spin of the Earth, thus reversing the totally-harsh-for-a-PG burying alive of Lois. Then, once he'd succeeded in the event not ever happening, he then flew the normal way around the planet, putting everything back on the straight-and-narrow.

    Sounds completely plausable to me

  48. medv4380

    Factually Wrong

    "Ninety-nine percent of the energy in a dying star is emitted by neutrinos, but it is light that has reached the observers on Earth first, not neutrinos"

    1987A the Neutrinos arrived 3 Hours early not the light.

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