Last month Einstein's general theory of relativity came under attack when physicists reported about neutrinos traveling faster than light, which subsequently cause many researchers to perform studies in attempts to figure out how to discredit or how to prove the finding.
In a recent development, Ronald van Elburg from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands has claimed that he has figured out how the neutrinos arrived at the Gran Sasso Lab seemingly faster than light.
His argument is that the team forgot to take into account the time distortions introduced by the Global Positioning System satellites in orbit that were used to synchronize the clocks at Gran Sasso and CERN resulting in the conclusion that the neutrinos were 60 nanoseconds early.
The key aspect is that the team seems to have forgotten to take into account the time it takes for the Global Positioning System signal to travel to the sensors on the Earth from the orbiting satellites, according to Elburg.
The delay for the signal to reach the Earth from the satellites amounts to about 32 nanoseconds on each end of the experiment, making for a total time delay of 64 nanoseconds as figured out by him. That is almost the exact amount of time that Gran Sasso showed the neutrinos arriving early.
There are two theories which are part of Einstein's theory of relativity, namely, special and general. Special relativity, which deals with space-time, is now being reviewed by CERN scientists. The general theory of relativity of late, however, gained more importance with the astrophysicists who proved that Einstein's theory is still correct on the cosmic scale.
According to the general theory of relativity, the gravity of any particle affects space-time deeply by warping it. The theory was validated previously by a research on the Sun and other stars.
If CERN's findings were proved to be true, they would violate Einstein's theory of relativity, opening it to rigorous scientific evaluation.
Earlier, a team of Danish astrophysicists claimed to have validated Einstein's theory by studying the cosmos. The finding was published in Nature.
A team of astrophysicists from the Niels Bohr Institute, led by Radek Wojtak, collected data from about 8,000 galaxy clusters by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and performed a statistical analysis. The goal of the work was to detect gravitational red shift by studying the properties of the red-shift distribution of galaxies in clusters rather than by looking at red shifts of individual galaxies separately, explains Wojtak.
Their research on galaxy clusters clearly shows that the red shift of the light is proportionally offset in relation to the gravitational influence from the galaxy cluster's gravity, says Wojtak. In that way, our observations confirm the theory of relativity.
All these point to the need for further tests before these results are fully confirmed and widely accepted. At the moment, it can be said that if neutrinos do travel faster than the speed of light it would be a revolutionary discovery.