PLEDGE NOW
Tracking Neutrinos

Roll over Einstein. Scientists clock neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light. If it’s true, it changes everything. We’ll track neutrinos.

In this Tuesday, March 30, 2010 file photo, the globe of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, is illuminated outside Geneva, Switzerland. Scientists at CERN, the world's largest physics lab, say they have clocked subatomic particles, called neutrinos, traveling faster than light, a feat that, if true, would break a fundamental pillar of science. (AP)

In this Tuesday, March 30, 2010 file photo, the globe of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, is illuminated outside Geneva, Switzerland. Scientists at CERN, the world's largest physics lab, say they have clocked subatomic particles, called neutrinos, traveling faster than light, a feat that, if true, would break a fundamental pillar of science. (AP)

E=mc2 is the one piece of physics everybody knows.  Einstein’s special relativity theory.  1905. Says nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.  It’s the basis, the bedrock, of modern physics.  And last week, out of the big CERN facility in Europe, the stunning news that some speedy little neutrinos have been clocked traveling faster.  Faster than the speed of light.

To physicists, that’s more than an earthquake.  Most are skeptical so far.  Waiting for confirmation.  But if it were true?  Time travel fans, start your engines.

This hour On Point:  speedy neutrinos rock Einstein’s world.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist, tenured professor, and co-creator of string field theory, a branch of string theory.

Stan Wojcicki, a member of the MINOS collaboration [Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search] at Fermilab and a Professor Emeritus at Stanford University.

James Gillies, a particle physicist and spokesman for CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), which runs a series of particle accelerators, including, most famously nowadays, the Large Hadron Collider.

From Tom’s Reading List

The news of the neutrino experiment prompted an explosion of neutrino jokes on the web, here are a few.

Here’s a description of the OPERA team’s experiment that produced the startling results.

Wired “In the experiment, neutrinos are generated at the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) particle accelerator at the CERN LHC complex in Geneva and further accelerated down a 1 km beam line toward the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy. At Gran Sasso, a detector instrument called OPERA measures the neutrinos. The distance from CERN to Gran Sasso is 732 km straight through the Earth, traveling up to 11.4 km below the Earth’s surface. Remember, neutrinos don’t interact with matter so the Earth is invisible to the tiny particles.”

Wall Street Journal “That was the reaction of physicists around the world last week when they heard that experiments in Switzerland indicate that Einstein’s theory of relativity might be wrong. Since 1905, when Einstein declared that nothing in the universe could travel faster than light, the theory has been the bedrock of modern physics. Indeed, most of our high-tech wizardry depends on it.”

New Scientist “Most commonly, experiments use large pools of water or oil. When neutrinos interact with electrons or nuclei of those water or oil molecules, they give off a flash of light that sensors can detect.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
May 22, 2015
Crashed cars with airbags deployed are shown to visitors as part of the display of Toyota Motor Corp.'s safety performance standards at the automaker's exhibition hall in Toyota, central Japan. (Shuji Kajiyama/AP)

ISIS rolls on. A TPP vote. Biggest recall ever – airbags. And Letterman’s last bow. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

May 22, 2015
The Barden Bellas, the all-female a cappella group at the center of Pitch Perfect 2. (Richard Cartwright/Universal Pictures via AP)

Pitch Perfect 2 is the number one movie in the country, and it’s over the top on a capella.

RECENT
SHOWS
May 21, 2015
Ships dock at the piers at the seaport town of Murmansk on the Kola peninsula in Russia. Russian authorities have detained a Greenpeace ship 'Arctic Sunrise' and 27 crew and they face charges when they arrived at Murmansk. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

The Arctic Circle is opening up at a gallop as the ice disappears. Oil, gold, armies, spies. Big opportunities and fear of the consequences.

 
May 21, 2015
In this photo taken Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, late light falls on Wheeler Hall, South Hall and the Campanile on the University of California campus in Berkeley, Calif. This famously liberal college town is known as the cradle of the Free Speech Movement, but speech isn’t the only thing that’s free here. Whether you’re strolling the redwood-shaded University of California, Berkeley, campus, or slipping across the Oakland border for a dose of Golden State history, you can exercise your limbs and your intellect without giving your wallet a workout. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

With student debt topping $1 trillion, a renewed call for radical change – maybe even free public university tuition. We’ll hear more about it.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
A Former Bike Gang Member Explains "The Life"
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Larry called in from Lawrenceburg, KY and told us he was once a member of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, a mid-Atlantic biker gang. He didn’t sugar coat the facts as he explained the draw of the brotherhood and what makes the outlaw motorcycle corner the underworld go round.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: May 15, 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015

We cancel a few hours and suddenly all of you get convinced of a global radio conspiracy! Plus, dragon zoos.

More »
1 Comment
 
Caller: ‘It Doesn’t Always Turn Out Okay’
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

One caller shares her own story of an extremely premature birth. Her daughter, born at 22 1/2 weeks in 2012, was taken off life support after seven days.

More »
Comment