• Switzerland's news in English
 

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
Fifa corruption scandal
Will he stay or go? Pressure rises on Blatter
Photo: AFP

Will he stay or go? Pressure rises on Blatter

Sepp Blatter, the Swiss head of Fifa, headed into the eye of a storm on Thursday with world media calling on him to resign as major corruption scandals overshadow the Zurich-based world governing body of football. READ  

Fifa corruption scandal
US soccer kingpin key to Fifa corruption probe
Chuck Blazer: central figure in Fifa investigations. Photo: Peter Kohalmi/AFP

US soccer kingpin key to Fifa corruption probe

Once the most important man in US soccer, Charles "Chuck" Blazer turned on FIFA to become the central figure in a wide-ranging graft investigation that threatens to bring the sport's Zurich-based world governing body to its knees. READ  

Strong franc hurts Swiss exports — and imports
Watchmaker for Swiss brand Piaget. Watch exports dipped 0.8 percent in April from the same month a year earlier. Photo: AFP

Strong franc hurts Swiss exports — and imports

Swiss exports and imports dropped significantly in April because of lower prices linked to the strong franc, the Federal Customs Administration (FCA) said on Thursday. READ  

Presented by the University of Geneva
Geneva's revolutionary marketing education

Geneva's revolutionary marketing education

The world is changing rapidly, and that means marketing has to change with it. The University of Geneva offers a programme which keeps pace with evolution. READ  

Switzerland drops in 'global competitiveness'
Photo: IMD

Switzerland drops in 'global competitiveness'

Switzerland slipped in IMD’s 2015 World Competitiveness Ranking to fourth place from second a year earlier, the Lausanne-based business school said on Wednesday. READ  

Fifa corruption scandal
Blatter says Fifa will expel guilty officials
Sepp Blatter: facing pressure ahead of vote. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Blatter says Fifa will expel guilty officials

Fifa's Swiss president Sepp Blatter admitted Wednesday football's world body faces a "difficult time" because of a major corruption storm but vowed any officials found guilty would be expelled from the sport. READ  

Dump truck driver dies after plunge into water
Photo: Aargau cantonal police

Dump truck driver dies after plunge into water

Help came too late for a 62-year-old dump truck operator who died on Wednesday after the vehicle plunged several metres into a retention basin in Wohlen in the canton of Aargau, police said. READ  

Fifa corruption scandal
Six indicted Fifa officials oppose extradition
FBI Director James B. Comey speaks during the announcement of charges against Fifa officials at a news conference on Wednesday in New York. Photo: Don Emmert/AFP

Six indicted Fifa officials oppose extradition

Six of the seven top Fifa officials arrested on Wednesday in Zurich as part of a twin corruption probe are opposing their extradition to the United States, the Swiss justice department said. READ  

Who's who in US Fifa corruption probe

The US Justice Department announced charges against nine present or former Fifa officials on Wednesday as part of a major probe into corruption at the core of football's world governing body. Seven were arrested in Zurich. Here are brief bios of the nine, five others also indicted, and four who have already pleaded guilty: READ  

Federer and Wawrinka advance in French Open
Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP

Federer and Wawrinka advance in French Open

Switzerland's Roger Federer continued his seamless progress at the French Open tennis tournament on Wednesday by ousting Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-2, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 to reach the third round. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Severed rope recalls Matterhorn's first ascent 150 years ago
National
Top Swiss court refuses to recognize child's two gay 'fathers'
National
Woman's scoop for Ticino online news site: 'I killed my husband'
National
Four Swiss bathing areas 'unfit' for swimmers: Euro environmental body
Technology
Scientists from Zurich university find craters beneath Lake Neuchâtel
National
Prince William in Switzerland backs fight to protect endangered species
National
Swiss Federal Railways rely on sheep to 'mow' grass alongside tracks
Sport
Switzerland to host 2020 international ice hockey tourney
Business & Money
I never learned German: departing Credit Suisse CEO's regret
Sport
International tennis museum in US showcases Federer hologram
National
Inequality greater than most Swiss think: opinion poll for unions
National
Shooting in Switzerland leaves five dead in domestic drama near Zurich
National
Swiss Federal Railways tackle taboo subject of suicide in bid to cut deaths
National
German expats in Switzerland face discrimination: report
Travel
High prices blunt Swiss tourism's cutting edge: World Economic Forum
Business & Money
Ticked off Rolex slaps Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on wrist
National
Shock and humour drive police safety video warning over 'inattention'
National
Switzerland ranks 13th best place in world for mothers: NGO
Education
Times Higher Education rates EPFL world's top 'young university'
Travel
Switzerland's trains again ranked best for performance in Europe
National
Ten percent of Swiss farmers fail to meet government regulations
National
Municipality of Zermatt bans taking selfies with Saint Bernard dogs
Business & Money
Salt (formerly Orange) aims to shake up Switzerland's mobile market
National
Switzerland tops 2015 world 'happiness index' developed by UN
National
New book: Swiss architect Le Corbusier was 'out-and-out fascist'
Features
Tasty street food catches on in biggest Swiss cities
Sport
Invasion of frogs forces early end to Zurich football game
National
New ranking downgrades the 'power' of Switzerland's passport
Features
Swiss hotel management schools serve up 'world best' recipe
National
Segways win approval for operation on Swiss bicycle lanes
National
Joan Baez and Sting in lineup for this summer's Paléo music festival
National
Second CERN club skier dies from avalanche in Valais Alps
Sport
Lausanne and IOC celebrate a century of Olympism
National
Bern waters down criteria for beer that can be labelled ‘Swiss’
National
Internet giant Google named most attractive employer in Switzerland
National
VIDEO: Swiss television satire clip ridicules Americans on ski slopes
National
Immigration remains top election issue for Swiss voters: opinion poll
National
Environmental bureau ranks Zurich first among Europe's 'sootfree cities'
National
Zurich crane-climbing stunt by teenager flags 'roofer' concerns
Education
THE ranks EPFL among seven 'fastest rising young universities'
Features
Mobility takes off as young urban Swiss catch the car-sharing bug
Business & Money
Ethical Coffee Company aims to beat Nespresso in home market
National
Use of temporary staffing continues to rise in Switzerland
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

4,350
jobs available