18/11/2011 10:59 GMT | Updated 18/01/2012 10:12 GMT

Was Einstein Wrong? New Neutrino Experiment Says Yes

It turns out Einstein, generally accepted to be a by-word for genius, was wrong about the speed of light, according to a new experiment.

The Telegraph reports that the accepted speed of light can be broken. A second experiment to double check the results of an early one on light speed has come to the same conclusion.

European scientists issued a scientific "walk-off" of sorts to US counterparts, saying they had measured neutrinos travelling at six kilometres per second faster than Einstein's velocity of light. In short, they were undoing the gold standard set down by everyone's favourite genius.

The first experiment was carried out between the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland and a laboratory at Gran Sasso in Italy.

At the time, the scientists agreed that it could be an error, as even the tiniest of shifts in the earth between the two measuring points could have changed the results.

In October, responding to criticism that they had been tricked by a statistical quirk, the team decided they would carry out a second series of experiments.

The Telegraph reports that in the second experiment, the scientists altered the structure of the proton beam.

US scientists have been critical of this saying: "OPERA's observation of a similar time delay with a different beam structure only indicates no problem with the batch structure of the beam, it doesn't help to understand whether there is a systematic delay which has been overlooked," said Jenny Thomas, co-spokesman for the Chicago-based lab's own neutrino experiment, MINOS.

In her blog on the Huffington Post, Anais Rassat, Astrophysicist and Science Communicator wrote: "Two main issues are that to measure a speed, you need to measure the precise distance travelled, as well as the exact time it took to travel that distance. This is no easy feat, and this is where the largest possible blunders can lie."

"And though we all want to witness a scientific revolution, it is overly optimistic to start re-writing physics textbooks," she said.

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