Like many, I am sceptical about the apparent findings of the CERN team, who believe that they may have observed sub-atomic particles travelling at velocities greater than the speed of light. Special relativity has served us well for the better part of a century, after all, and our understanding of it is integral to our engineering of everything from DVDs to nuclear bombs.
However, I simply cannot comprehend what would make a scientist say, in an interview on the subject with today’s Daily Telegraph, “It would turn everything on its head. It is too awful to think about.”
Too awful to think about?!?
The best, most wonderful experience for a scientist is to discover that the boundaries and frontiers of their understanding just expanded out beyond the visible horizon. To discover that Special Relativity might be inadequate to describe the world around us is a gift to physicists: there may now exist new realms of knowledge to conquer and the chances for everything from exciting (and well-funded) new research all the way through to the tantalising possibility of fame on the level of Planck, Rutherford and Einstein himself for the person whose team cracks it.
Anyone with even an amateur’s interest in physics whould now be (sceptically) abuzz. If Professor Jenny Thomas is genuinely so uncomfortable with the idea of having uncertainty in her world-view then perhaps theoretical physics, of all careers, is the most ironic choice of all. Just ask Heisenberg.