E=MC^2 is the theory of mass-energy equivilance, and hinges on the value of the constant “C,” or the speed of light, which is about 300 million metres per second — thought to be the speed limit of the universe . . . until last week that is.
On Sept. 22, scientists from CERN, the organization for European nuclear research, announced they had made a curious discovery. In an experiment unrelated to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), researchers observed neutrinos — extremely small sub-atomic particles with no electric charge — traveling at speeds above the speed of light; an impossibility according to Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity.
It is a commonly held belief that only objects like photons, which have no mass, can travel at the speed of light.
According to Einstein, the passage of time slows as something approaches the speed of light, and mass (M in the famous equation) increases, such that it would take an infinite amount of energy (E) to reach the speed of light for an object with any mass what so ever.
Scientists at CERN are being cautious about their announcement, inviting researchers from around the globe to study their data and repeat their experiment.
“[The researchers] are inviting the broader physics community to look at what they’ve done and really scrutinize it in great detail, and ideally for someone elsewhere in the world to repeat the measurements,” said James Gillies, a spokesperson CERN, speaking to the Associated Press.