Sunday, November 20, 2011

Neutrinos faster than light: Einstein would love it

**IF** CERN is right, Einstein would love it. A lot.

Today's theoreticians have troubles with this result because they have (mostly) become overcommitted to a narrow class of models which some of us would call quasilinear. That's partly because of the very abstract ways they try to formulate quantum mechanics, which Einstein objected to enormously. If the laws of the universe obey Einstein's special relativity, but are NOT quasilinear, the vacuum speed of light need not be an absolute limit in regions like earth which are not vacuum. Working with Infeld in his later years, Einstein worked hard to try to explore the possibilities of a new nonquasilinear theory of gravity (beyond general relativity which is nonquasilinear but limited in some ways), and to find empirical data to help choose among the many possibilities. He would rejoice to hear of it.

Let me try to explain this again another way. Einstein claimed that the laws of the universe, the true "theory of everything," could be expressed as a set of nonlinear partial differential equations (PDE). Most physicists now believe that it's impossible that things could be so simple, because they couldn't figure out how to explain some basic experiments, like the "Bell's Theorem" experiments, with that kind of theory. But I could. In the International Journal for Theoretical Physics in 2008,
I showed how one can reconcile these experiments with Einstein's viewpoint. In fact, empirical data has already shown us that the usual "Copenhagen" version of quantum mechanics taught in school today is clearly wrong. See .

Einstein's theory of special relativity says that these PDE obey a certain symmetry relation, called Lorentz or Poincare symmetry. (Those are not exactly the same, but I don't want to get TOO technical here.)

Mathematicians have proved that information cannot flow faster than the speed of light in forward time, in universes governed by PDE which are "quasilinear," meaning that
the terms which have the most derivatives in them must be linear. The nonlinearity is just in lower-level interaction terms. But Einstein was interested in looking for new
nonquasilinear theories to his dying day...


What about HUMANS traveling faster than light, across the vacuum of space?

In my view, most "modern' discussions of this issue are about as trustworthy
as discussions by ancient Egyptian scholars in 2000BC discussing the possibility of television, radio and cell phones. We need to learn a whole lot of other stuff first before it could be even close to real. Yet we don't know enough to say it is impossible. Even general relativity (which would rule out the CERN neutrinos)
does admit of "Alcubierre" solutions which would allow FTL travel, under certain
problematic conditions. A new, more refined physics (both for space bending
ala CERN's results and for nuclear forces) might well allow more feasible solutions.
But we would have to rediscover the scientific method to have hope of getting there..
not to mention surviving the next few years,

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