Friday, 23 September 2011

Einstein Wrong

Particle physicists have detect neutrinos traveling faster than light, a feat forbidden by Einstein's theory of special relativity. Pffft, Einstein, what did he know.
According to the more scientific amongst us this is a big deal, a Copernicus moment that raises the possibility of time travel and with no DeLorean or a flux capacitor in sight.
What i don't really understand is why does going faster than the speed of light mean going back in time? I wish I had paid more attention in Science lessons at school but it all seemed very boring at the time.
Prof Mark Lancaster of the University College London Physics and Astrology department explains.

Imagine the neutrinos which are travelling faster than light are a clock and we tell the time by photons light being emitted by this neutrino.
So the neutrino ticks and emits a photon at say 12:00 which takes some time to get to us travelling at the speed of light and it hits your eye and you go OK it's 12:00. The neutrino/clock though is itself moving quicker than the photon in emitted and so will overtake it on the way to you - let's say it overtakes the 12:00 photon and ticks again and emits the 12:01 photon - the 12:01 photon will then reach you BEFORE the 12:00 photon so you are seeing time tick backwards ie you see the clock going 12:01, 12:00, 11:59

Still boring then but like Jennifer Anniston on the L'Oreal adverts, you don't need to understand the science bit to have shiny, beautiful hair or in this case, to go back in time with the weekends European lottery numbers or persuade Simon Cowells grandfather to wear extra tight underpants or even find the man who gave Celine Dion a recording contract and flail him alive before he she gets to sign on the dotted line.


Chris said...

The well worn argument is if time travel was possible in the future, why are we not seeing people coming bsck to see us and tell us to stop doing stupid things?

Anonymous said...

They try but the men in black catch 'em...


Lucy said...

I have a theory about that Chris. What if something really major happens in 2013, something historic and you wanted to go back in time to experience it. You would go back to that event, not 2011 or 2010 or 2009. Take the 9/11 attacks in 2001, you would go back to that day in 2001, not a year or two before it. So nobody from the future is milling around now because there is nothing important happening at the moment.