March 30, 2012
‘Speed Of Light’ Scientist Resigns
The Italian professor who claimed particles were moving faster than the speed of light has resigned after his finding was overturned.
Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) said Antonio Ereditato has stepped down as coordinator of the OPERA experiment.
The experiment was measuring the speed at which sub-atomic particles called neutrinos travelled from the CERN research center in Geneva to Gran Sasso in central Italy.
At first, the researchers believe the particles had flown the 454-miles at 60 billionths of a second faster than light.
The finding could have disproved Albert Einstein's 1905 Special Theory of Relativity, which is a foundation of modern physics and cosmology.
This theory states that nothing in the universe can travel faster than light, a statement that is considered to be fundamental in modern physics.
The result of the experiment was called into question by separate experiments, and CERN said the OPERA result appeared to be caused by a measurement error.
"I hope OPERA will find new unity and a new leadership to pursue its main target of observing the appearance of a new type of neutrinos," Antonio Masiero, the deputy head of INFN said in a statement.
He said another test on the speed of neutrinos would be carried out later this year to check OPERA's findings.
The OPERA team was just as surprised at their findings as everyone else, so at the time they urged other physicists to carry out their own checks to corroborate or refute what had been found.
The CERN team confirmed Einstein's theory in mid-March, disproving OPERA's findings and leading to Ereditato's resignation.
"The evidence is beginning to point toward the OPERA [rival team] result being an artifact of the measurement," CERN research director Sergio Bertolucci said March 16 after their findings.
The OPERA team admitted in February that a malfunctioning cable may have been responsible for their finding.
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