Baffling Neutrino

– By Usman Khan, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

– Comic by Faiza Syed, Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences

Many of you will have heard about CERN by now… for those who are wondering what it stands for, let me explain… It’s an acronym of the European Organization of Nuclear Research – Well, of the French equivalent of that.

In there, they have got the biggest machines on earth to study some of the smallest particles in the universe, and they, armed with their weapons, aim to crack huge secrets that the universe is hiding within the folds of its many galaxies, and to grasp the knowledge of its very existence.

The most recent of CERN’s research involves the discovery of speeds of particles that are faster than light. ‘What type of “ludicrous notion” is this’ was the first thought that came into my mind when I heard about CERN’s research, though the words that escaped my mouth explained my emotions much clearly, but can’t be put here because many will think them to be rather rude and immature. But what else could I have said? I first heard about the very famous ‘Einstein’s mass energy relationship’ when I didn’t even know what mass and energy meant. Gradually I absorbed it in, though never bright enough to understand fully what Einstein actually meant, I grew up believing it, and now, suddenly out of nowhere, CERN is trying to claim that all of it was wrong… The eccentric, lunatic genius, Einstein was wrong about the fact that ‘no particle could travel faster than light’. Whole of the Relativistic Mechanics by Einstein was based on this one simple assumption which many other great personalities in history, whose credibility as ‘genius freaks’ can never be denied, also believed to be true. So I think it wasn’t wrong for me to use a little slang and vernacular language to express my emotions, which, by the way, I very much tried to control, was it?

When you come to think of it, a simple fact that the energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can only change its form, has been the basis of all the theories succeeding it. According to Einstein’s mass energy relationship E=mc2, the mass of a particle travelling at the speed of light is totally converted into energy. So if the particle was to travel even with a greater speed than that of light then where is this extra energy coming from? Makes your head spin, doesn’t it? I am sure that CERN will soon have an answer for that but who is to say that what CERN discovers is always true. So much confusion, such imbalance of thoughts and whirl of emotions… I just want to blow up my brain. But still I can’t answer a simple question ‘what to believe and what not to’?

There are thousands of links, posts and comments regarding the current research of CERN, but whenever I hear about this particular discovery all I actually hear is blah, blah, blah. It seems my brain’s been rendered unable to filter or process the information about the ‘Neutrinos’ research of CERN.

On one side is the most genius person in the history of, like forever, whose ideas are still indigestible by the best of researchers, whereas on other side one of the World’s biggest Research Organization, CERN, which is claiming to have repeated the same experiment under exactly the same conditions and have obtained the same results even after 15,000 times.

James Gillies, spokesman for CERN, spoke with RFE/RL correspondent Ron Synovitz about the discovery of the neutrino particles travelling faster than light does.

RFE/RL: CAN you explain more about how the CERN experiments were conducted?

Gillies: Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity says there is a cosmic speed limit and that is the speed of light – and that nothing can go faster than that. What this measurement shows is a measurement of the time it takes for a beam of neutrinos to fly from CERN – 730 kilometres through the Earth – to a particle detector underground at the place called Gran Sasso in Italy. It’s about 732 kilometres away and the time of flight is about 2.4 milliseconds to do that. And what they appear to be measuring is that the neutrinos are arriving early. Only very slightly early – it’s a 20 part per million effect, but early nevertheless.

AND the first thought that came to my mind after reading this piece of information provided by a CERN’s official was “why has the neutrino got to be so selfish to arrive ahead of his other fellow particles?” Couldn’t it have SLOWED UP A LITTLE so it could have arrived with its other fellow particles? I mean if I were to go somewhere with my friends, I would match their pace so that we can reach our destination together… But NOOO, the stupid neutrino didn’t care a bit about friends. Just showing off, proving to others that it is faster and better than its other fellow particles.

CERN is now putting together a whole new experiment to check whether their discovery is 100% correct. No one knows when it’ll be complete. This discovery is still a theory and not a fact. So there’s an equal chance of either one being wrong i.e. Einstein or CERN. But since my great hero Einstein isn’t here to prove that his research is right, I am willing to bet in his favor 😛 For me, he’s still at the very top of true ingenuity. So people make up your minds and take your bets. I can see that future beholds a great revolution for science, no matter which of the two is right.

Like Shakespeare said “to be or not to be: that is the question” but I am going to modify that a little as I say “to believe or not to believe: that is the question”.


9 thoughts on “Baffling Neutrino

  1. Guest

    Well, both of them can be correct if you ‘believe’ the existence of extra dimensions: neutrino merely made a wormhole to get to the final destination. That way the distance traveled is actually shorter than your measured distance and neutrino might as well have been travelling at, or even slower than, the speed of light.

    1. Coldmedal

      well, i wouldn’t call it crappy… writing is a difficult job and few people take it on…

      and to the author…way to go!

  2. Zahra

    Pretty nice article, awesome use of words to explain your thoughts and ideas. Was confused too after reading this. Well, let’s see what comes out with the passage of time.

  3. Sidrah

    The fact is that all the discoveries are like packets of knowledge, exposed to mankind by the nature at the best time and so is the case here. At the time of Einstien that thing was important but now nature has revealed a secret and probably this means ‘openeing of new phases of knowledge’.

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