Has CERN found an exploitable vulnerability in physics?

Filed Under: Vulnerability

We don't often cover non-computer non-security news on Naked Security.

(Don't worry. When we do, we take great care to find some sort of connection - however nebulous - to the cyberworld, just to keep you, our readers, onside, and to ensure that the URIs in your web logs look as relevant and as important as ever.)

But some news just cries out to be told, like this: that researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, better known as CERN, claim to have exported subatomic particles from Switzerland to Italy at greater than the speed of light!

You read that correctly. Greater than the speed of light - something which even science fiction fans accept isn't really supposed to happen.

Reports say that CERN boosted streams of neutrinos to a whopping 300,006 kilometres per second on their journey from Geneva, Switzerland, to a laboratory over 700km away in Gran Sasso, Italy.

But received wisdom - and the so-called Standard Model of physics - says that the neutrinos ought to have topped out at just 299792 kilometres per second, the speed of light. Suddenly, the laws of physics seem to have an exploitable vulnerability.

The results now need checking out, a project which researchers worldwide will doubtless be keen to take on.

Unless and until the findings are disproved, however, we can all hope that this means that the speed of light will no longer be the limiting factor in the speeds at which we can send data across the internet.

And then, who knows?

Perhaps we will be able to replace our fibre optic cables with neutrino-based transmission systems, and gain an unexpected 0.07% improvement in performance?

Just imagine how much more YouTube video we'd be able to pack into our busy lives!

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16 Responses to Has CERN found an exploitable vulnerability in physics?

  1. Rosie · 1104 days ago

    sweet :D, just watching Star Trek Voyager and have been speculating about warp speed, speed of light, transporter capabilities etc. One question though, would I get more views on my bankslayer YouTube channel using this capability? tehehehe BTW - loved the segway :P

  2. I doubt this is true. The measurements are tiny and it needs to be repeated. If the ~730km distance between them was inaccurate by just 20 meters it would give this result. Of course, if it is repeated this is massive.

    The BBC quotes Dr Ereditato as saying "we are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result - because it is crazy".

  3. We wouldn't even need to put any cables in, right. I thought they sent them straight through the ground.

  4. dan waggoner · 1104 days ago

    If physics crashes, all ur base r belong to us!

  5. Nerds are having a field day on Twitter using #mundaneneutrinoexplanations

  6. Luis · 1104 days ago

    Hold your horses! Neutrinos are VERY difficult to handle, as they don't interact with anything except very rarely: no charge, no mass, no strong force, no weak force...

    Sonicated is right. Have they really checked the distance accurately?

  7. Yossi · 1104 days ago

    So, the real question now, when will this be patched and will it require a reboot?

  8. Damian Millar · 1104 days ago

    Well I have known that for some year's now without Cern...
    I believe that the answer to the question that the science community are seeking is in the wrong place...
    The key is Magnets par say.... not the magnet itself but the force that's driving or making the magnet....

    When the science community can emplane in plane lamens terms how dose a magnet get it's force then they will know what Nicola Tesla was talking about and Einstein...

    you can look at atoms all day long and yes you can go smaller and smaller down to up quarks and down quarks but that's all you will do is just keep getting smaller.

    I see thing's in kidology mode - It will surprise you what you see!.

  9. MikeA · 1104 days ago

    What I want to know is -- if this turns physics on its head, will the change fall out of its pockets?

  10. Ray W · 1104 days ago

    A highly respected Bugarian Professor, Bozhidar Paliushev, published a book, The Physics of GOD 11, in which he descibed his Torsion Physics researches and submitted proof that it is possible to send data at many hundreds of times the speed of light. The Russians recognised the significance of his work and have been working on his theories ever since.

  11. Neil Conder · 1104 days ago

    I would venture it's more a case of expanding our knowledge base rather than an exploitable vulnerability. The existing laws and principles of physics form a practical base from which our minds can then leap forward beyond the confines of conventional knowledge to imagine greater possibilities. Without imagination and creativity, few of our modern technologies would be present. I find myself skeptical, yet hopeful that this "discovery" can be put to conventional use in the near future.

  12. Pat Galea · 1103 days ago

    "Just imagine how much more YouTube video we'd be able to pack into our busy lives!"

    Won't make much difference to bandwidth, but will improve ping time. These neutrino pipes are for gamers!

  13. Krakovian · 1099 days ago

    Thanks for all the insight on magnets and the 'nerds' working overtime to solve this issue and of course that the distance could be incorrect. I mean how can these slow coaches at Cern not have realized this before now ... I really hope they're reading these posts, I mean they'd be stupid not to.

    Thanks for the sensibility Janis -)

    If ever there was a reason for ROFL these comments have to be it!

  14. Krakovian · 1099 days ago

    Thanks for all the insight on magnets and the 'nerds' working overtime to solve this issue and of course that the distance could be incorrect. I mean how can these slow coaches at Cern not have realized this before now ... I really hope they're reading these posts, I mean they'd be stupid not to.

  15. We wouldn't even need to put any wires in, right. I believed they sent them directly through the floor.

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About the author

Paul Ducklin is a passionate security proselytiser. (That's like an evangelist, but more so!) He lives and breathes computer security, and would be happy for you to do so, too. Paul won the inaugural AusCERT Director's Award for Individual Excellence in Computer Security in 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @duckblog