The front page of Discover magazine said “The Top 100 Stories of 2011,” so I had to buy it so I could have something to read on the flight to JFK airport in Queens. After we were airborne and my wife began watching a movie on the little screen in the headrest of the seat in front of her, I took out the magazine and began reading. Number one on the list of top one hundred stories was titled, “Faster Than the Speed of Light,” which referred to the announcement by a collaboration of 174 physicists at CERN that they were tracking bursts of neutrinos that were travelling faster than the speed of light.
Now according to Einstein that’s flatly impossible, and suddenly scientists all over the world were trying to search for flaws in the experiment or for independent verification of CERN’s observations. As for myself, as soon as I heard of the FTL neutrinos I remembered my article that I’d written back in January of 2010 and realized that it would fairly and easily explain the anomaly. But, I told myself, that would be self-serving, just another shot of faux seratonin for my own overblown hubris that led me (non-college-grad and certainly non-physicist that I am) to even presume to question all the world’s physicists in the first place.
That was before I read the article in Discover magazine. Now we should all bear in mind that Discover magazine is to the science community what Newsweek is to the political community – not much more than a collection of summaries of current events made sexier with all the pretty pictures. That said, both magazines still try to keep to a certain standard of accuracy as they try to present important events in language easily understandable by most people with high-school educations.
But back to the article. On the second page of the article (the full text of which is not freely available on line) I read the following:
One of the most intriguing ideas [to explain the FTL neutrinos] comes from Jarah Evslin, Emilio Ciuffoli, and Xinmin Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, who are using one unexplained phenomenon to account for another. Dark energy is a mysterious kind of antigravity thought to operate on a cosmological scale, pushing galaxies apart and causing the universe to expand ever more quickly. Evslin and colleagues propose that dark energy changes its behavior in the presence of large masses like Earth. It could be scrunching spacetime together near the planet so that the neutrinos’ rout becomes slightly shorter – 20 meters shorter, to be exact – than the measured value of 730,534.61 meters. “It creates a shortcut,” Evslin says. “The neutrinos see the distance between CERN and Gran Sasso as being less than we do.” If the particle is traversing a smaller distance (from the neutrino’s perspective) in the same amount of time, its speed dips below that speed of light, preserving relativity.
Tears came to my eyes for two reasons. One was because they were describing precisely the same effect I’d proposed in my article nearly two years earlier wherein I described a possible solution not only for the Pioneer Anomaly, the Flyby Anomaly, and the Galaxy Rotation Problem, but also for Dark Energy and maybe even Dark Matter. While the physicists from Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences were suggesting a radically different set of mechanics to explain CERN’s observations, but the effect they described was precisely the same that I proposed in my article!
The second reason I had to wipe tears from my eyes was this (and here comes the braggadocio): I’m not that crazy/stupid after all! I’ve been told since I was young about my level of intelligence, but I had never accomplished anything to justify what I’d been told. But to see that I came up with an idea all my own, and to see the central facet of that idea proposed by respected physicists at a world-class institution and subsequently noted in a complimentary fashion in a fairly respected magazine…well, that’s pretty special to me. Maybe it doesn’t mean much to anyone else, but it means a great deal to me.
What’s next? I should at least try to contact those physicists (and Discover magazine) to point them to my article, because if if my theory turns out to be true, my overblown hubris demands that I be awarded at least a footnote of credit in scientific annals henceforward! More likely, I’ll be proven stupidly wrong and unceremoniously swept into that fabled dustbin of history – but hey, it’s a nice feeling while it lasts!Powered by Sidelines