• Switzerland edition
 
Einstein was right: CERN scientists
CERN

Einstein was right: CERN scientists

Published: 08 Jun 2012 13:40 GMT+02:00

Scientists on Friday said that an experiment which challenged Einstein's theory on the speed of light had been flawed and that sub-atomic particles -- like everything else -- are indeed bound by the
universe's speed limit.

Researchers working at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) caused a storm last year when they published experimental results showing that neutrinos could out-pace light by some six kilometres (3.7 miles) per second.

The findings threatened to upend modern physics and smash a hole in Albert Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity, which described the velocity of light as the maximum speed in the cosmos.

But CERN now says that the earlier results were wrong and faulty kit was to blame.

"Although this result isn't as exciting as some would have liked, it is what we all expected deep down," said the centre's research director Sergio Bertolucci.

"The story captured the public imagination, and has given people the opportunity to see the scientific method in action.

"An unexpected result was put up for scrutiny, thoroughly investigated and resolved in part thanks to collaboration between normally competing experiments. That's how science moves forward."

The neutrinos were timed on the journey from CERN's giant underground lab near Geneva to the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy, after travelling 732 kilometres (454 miles) through the Earth's crust.

To do the trip, the neutrinos should have taken 0.0024 seconds. Instead, the particles were recorded as hitting the detectors in Italy 0.00000006 seconds sooner than expected, the preliminary experiment had shown.

Researchers updated the science community on Friday at the International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics, being held in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto.

"The previous data taken up to 2011 with the neutrino beam from CERN to Gran Sasso were revised taking into account understood instrumental effects," the team said.

"A coherent picture has emerged with both previous and new data pointing to a neutrino velocity consistent with the speed of light."

The initial findings had been greeted with a combination of excitement and scepticism, even from those involved in the experiment, who urged other physicists to carry out their own checks to corroborate or refute what had been seen.

"If this result at CERN is proved to be right, and particles are found to travel faster than the speed of light, then I am prepared to eat my shorts, live on TV," Jim Al-Khalili, a professor of theoretical physics at Britain's University of Surrey, declared at the time.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Red Cross seeks record budget as aid needs soar
Red Cross chief Peter Maurer. Photo: Junior D. Kannah/AFP

Red Cross seeks record budget as aid needs soar

The Geneva-based Red Cross says it will need a record $1.68 billion (1.26 billion euros) to cover its humanitarian activities next year, amid soaring needs for aid in conflict-hit countries like Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. READ  

Meat firm apologizes over labelling scandal
Carna Grisha delivery trucks. Photo: Carna Grisha

Meat firm apologizes over labelling scandal

Faced with dropping sales in the wake of a scandal about falsely labelled products, Switzerland’s fifth largest meat company, Carna Grisha, has issued an apology and announced measures intended to reassure customers. READ  

Ronaldo goal gives Real Madrid edge over Basel
Ronaldo (left) vies with Basel's Swiss defender Philipp Degen in Wednesday night's match. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Ronaldo goal gives Real Madrid edge over Basel

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 71st Champions League goal as Real Madrid recorded a club record-equalling 15th consecutive win by beating FC Basel 1-0 in Switzerland in the Champions League on Wednesday. READ  

Bern museum gets grant to house Gurlitt artworks
Photo: Kunstmuseum Bern (Bern Museum of Fine Arts)

Bern museum gets grant to house Gurlitt artworks

An anonymous benefactor has put up at least one million francs ($1.04 million) to help the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern house a massive collection of 1,000 artworks hoarded during the Nazi era. READ  

Two men arrested over refugee centre fire
Photo: SIS/Ville de Genève/File

Two men arrested over refugee centre fire

Two people have been arrested on suspicion of intentionally setting a fire at a centre for asylum seekers in the canton of Geneva that left one man dead and 40 others injured earlier this month, according to a report. READ  

Top Swiss firms seen paying 'record' dividends
Nestl; is expected to lead the way with higher dividends. Photo: AFP

Top Swiss firms seen paying 'record' dividends

The top 20 companies on the Swiss stock exchange are expected to issue dividends to shareholders worth a record 35.8 billion francs ($37.2 billion) for 2014, according to a German business journal. READ  

Sunday referendums
Voters' turn: immigration and taxing rich expats
Ecopop poster (detail)

Voters' turn: immigration and taxing rich expats

Swiss citizens will head to the polls this weekend to decide whether to dramatically slash immigration numbers, this time in the name of saving the environment in a proposal opponents have labelled xenophobic. READ  

Swiss Michelin-starred restaurants on the rise

Swiss Michelin-starred restaurants on the rise

Switzerland remains the country with the most restaurants per capita awarded a Michelin star in the world, according to the publisher of the Michelin guide books. READ  

Zug police arrest 15 in 'biggest' drug bust
Photo: Zug cantonal police

Zug police arrest 15 in 'biggest' drug bust

Law enforcement officials in Zug say they have cracked the biggest drug smuggling ring ever uncovered in the canton with the arrest of a woman and 14 men and the seizure of 55 kilograms of heroin. READ  

'Better' Basel brace for Real Madrid challenge
Basel coach Paulo Sousa insists FC Basel have improved since last game against Real Madrid. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

'Better' Basel brace for Real Madrid challenge

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has insisted his side won't let up despite already securing their place in the last 16 of the Champions League as they seek a club record-equalling 15th consecutive win away to Basel on Wednesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Swiss meat firm faces scandal over alleged false labelling of products
Sport
Federer victory gives Switzerland its first Davis Cup tennis title
National
Switzerland's Christmas market season gets into full swing
Business & Money
Italy's PM upset over Swiss mogul's acquittal in asbestos deaths
Business & Money
University of Zurich study finds 'banker's oath' could spur honesty
Sponsored Article
Exclusive offer: Try out home exchange
National
Swiss National Bank chief calls proposal to boost gold reserves 'fatal'
National
Mudslides kill four people in Ticino and neighbouring Italy
Culture
British X Factor star seeks internet support for Swiss Eurovision place
National
Court overturns ban by backing right for schoolgirl to wear scarf
National
Swiss ranking for English skills worsens among non-Anglo countries
Culture
Swiss model and French TV star Nabilla held for 'attempted murder'
Travel
Switzerland's Zermatt voted best ski resort in the Alps by skiers
Sport
VIDEO: FC Zurich claims crime after 'vicious' tackle hospitalizes player
Tech
Federal government announces new '.swiss' internet domain name
National
Zany emergency: Basel firefighters rescue ass stuck in manhole
Business & Money
American jury clears former UBS top executive of tax fraud
International
Switzerland ranks second to Norway in global 'prosperity' index
National
Financial regulator bans former Coop Bank CEO for three years
International
Switzerland slips in World Economic Forum's gender equality rankings
National
Job candidates unhappy with hiring process in Switzerland
National
Glacier 3000 opens new foot bridge spanning two mountains in Vaud
National
Swiss seek special Unesco heritage listing for yodelling and watchmaking
International
Switzerland regarded as best place in world for expats: global survey
National
Red faces at Migros over Hitler and Mussolini coffee cream pots
National
Quarter of workers in Switzerland 'stressed out': new survey
Travel
Lonely Planet ranks Zermatt among top places to visit in 2015
National
Majority of Swiss back proposed new immigration curbs: poll
Features
Eritrean asylum seekers find refuge in Swiss monastery town
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
National
Sputtering eurozone drags down Swiss economic growth forecast
Features
Swiss-based English expat writer lauds immigrant 'brains and brawn'
International
Our survey: Switzerland third priciest for food and drink from back home
National
Zurich market gardener sets world 'record' for heaviest pumpkin
National
Report: Switzerland's residents richer than before economic crash
Features
Geneva lab sleuths use high tech to help art world uncover fakes
National
Father of Scot missing since early September fears Swiss trauma
National
Foreign women give birth to rising share of newborns: latest figures
National
'Giant's penis' bloom in Basel uni botanical garden bigger than ever
National
Switzerland's voters reject public health insurance proposal
National
Zooming foreign immigration continues to boost Swiss population
National
Scientific study rings alarm over wellbeing of Swiss cows with bells
National
Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water in restaurants
Business & Money
Switzerland's residents top world financial wealth list: Allianz report
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,028
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply