Speedy Neutrinos

This week I read an article called “Particles Faster Than the Speed of Light? Not So Fast, Some Say,” in the New York Times by Denise Overbye. The article looks at the entire debate about a faster than light neutrino. It examines the ramifications of verifying the findings, and the pile of evidence against verification. The extreme impartialness of the article makes it almost sound biased, since there are so many arguments against faster than light neutrinos, specifically Einstein’s theory of special relativity. A nice touch of humor helps “dumb down” the jargon relating to the debate, like when Overbye says “Technically, relativity does allow some particles, known as tachyons, to go faster than light — in fact it forbids them to slow down to light speed. The hitch is that they would have imaginary masses, whatever that means.” The light, funny commentary mixed with a hearty dose of technical jargon makes the article extremely readable and approachable, even for those without an extensive scientific knowledge base. The ethical appeal of each side of the debate is built up by references to the background of each side, such as the mention of MIT and Boston University. The article does not take a stand on which side seems to be right, and it will be very interesting to see which side turns out to be true!

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~ by humanling on October 31, 2011.

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