Michael South

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Could the findings at the LHC regarding the speed of neutrinos someday support the idea that quantum mechanics can operate on a larger scale

The search for a "theory of everything" that ties together all known physical phenomena has the major hurdle of unifying Einstein's theories of relativity and quantum mechanics.

At the LHC in Switzerland, scientists have observed neutrinos traveling at speeds faster than the speed of light, and have more recently re-run the test (eliminating a potential source of error) only to arrive at the same results. The implications of a particle that travels faster than the speed of light include refuting Einstein's theory of special relativity, opening the possibility of traveling back in time, and muddling the principles of cause and effect.

Now for my question: assuming that these findings prove to be accurate, could the existence of faster than light neutrinos coupled with Aaron O'Connell's experimentation support quantum mechanics (or some further evolved version) as a "unifying theory" which could predict the outcome of any theoretical experimentation? Aaron O'Connell's experiment demonstrates that visible objects can act in a quantum way. Does this mean that the ability of quantum particles to travel faster than the speed of light will also someday translate to macro-objects?

From what I can gather about Aaron O'Connell's talk, he is proposing that quantum mechanics can operate on a larger scale, which has always been the realm of Einstein's theories. Now evidence may exist which refutes aspects of Einstein's principle theories. Could quantum mechanics someday not only explain electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force, but the fourth fundamental interaction of nature, gravity, if the current theory we have for gravity is found to falter? And how might Aaron O'Connell's experiment tie into this?

I would appreciate any insights, opinons, or criticisms.

Closing Statement from Michael South

Thank you everyone for your inputs. I have learned a lot about a variety of related topics from this conversation. I personally cannot wait to see what these findings will have on classical physics as we know it.

  • Dec 14 2011: CERN's experiment did produce this joke:

    "Sorry," says the bartender, "We don't serve faster-than-light neutrinos in here."

    A neutrino walks into a bar.
  • Dec 9 2011: Michael !

    Aaron in his talk said :
    "...imagine if you are in multiple places at the same time...
    How would your consciousness handle your body being delocalized in space ?"
    We do not understand the physics of consciousness, there is no scientific definition, we don't know how it works.
    What if it's just the 'thing' that fix quantum objects to the position, to one place.
    Consciousness does not inhabit our body, but 'creates' it and through entanglement all objects around us.
    Everything everywhere does the same thing infinitely. '.. is it the wind moving or is it the flag? The zen monk answers, neither, its your mind that is moving."
    "it seems like all the objects in the elevator are really just quantum objects just crammed into a tiny space"

    If our consciousness could handle our being in two places at the same time we would enjoy it with all macro-objects or without !
    To move faster than the speed of light allows to travel in both directions in time.
    Focusing on the fact that the universe is structured in four dimensions ( it is not the only universe , but it is the universe we inhabit and experience),it is clear that if you had complete freedom of action in all four there would be anarchy.
    Instead of 'cosmos' you would have 'chaos'. So one dimension is not free - it has imprinted on it a one-way arrow that forbids you to go backwards, lets you to undo the connections that hold universe together. "Grandfather paradox "
    A particle, that travels faster than the speed of light, maybe is a "Hi!" from 'extended' universe with more dimensions, free from the eye of the observer, our consciousness?
    A string theory ?
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    Dec 13 2011: For those interested in the new findings.
    A seminar for today.
    • Dec 13 2011: I can't say I've understood everything there, but I've got the impression that the empirical observation is not quite empirical and not quite an observation nowadays :)
      Thank you for the link, Frans !
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        • Dec 13 2011: Thanks, Ed !!!
          It's amazing stuff indeed ! Maybe we are pretty close to humble understanding who we are !
          Any attempt to understand how mass is created leads to '0' . At the taproot level 'solid' matter evaporates into a ghost.
          Maybe this is not a failure of our instruments , not a flaw of technique, but a basic feature of Nature's design?
          An unobserved electron exists not as a particle but as a wave, a wave of potential, a ripple of possibility..., a dream that needs a touch of human will to push it into the realm of reality. Who are we then ?!
          Amazingly the Higgs boson is called a 'God's particle ' !
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    Dec 11 2011: It's really exciting to see more and more people wondering about how to personally wonder how to make these connections in real life. I think it would be really cool if we can do some kind of graphical mapping of objects in order model them, and factor in what we may typically see as reality plays along the boundaries around these objects. There are many things that i do not have knowledge of in the world, and i may not know what those things are. However this does not deny the existence of those things, or the fact that they exist. As we know with Galileo, even if you tell someone that the world is not flat, doesn't mean they will believe you, but because he told them, he got people to think in order to tell him that he was wrong. To tell someone something is wrong is to also a way of acknowledging that "wrong" idea to be something, a possibility. Quantum physics (and everything else) is the same way, there always exist a possibility, but its up to us to decide whether we want to pursue these possibilities.
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    Dec 15 2011: Quantum mechanics currently functions at all scales.

    Understanding a basic paradox and its function in our dimension; then incorporating this into the “Standard Model” will eventually enable us to fully understand gravity/time/quantum mechanics.

    The basic paradox: “Absolutely Nothing” exists an entity, it coexists at the same space, place, and time as its equal and opposite entity “Absolutely Everything”.

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      Dec 15 2011: That is my thinking also.
    • Dec 15 2011: Hi, James !
      I can't agree more ! On the level of shared space Absolutely Nothing = Absolutely Everything . Nothing is a potential existence for Everything, while the balance is not broken, till 'something' has not come into existence. Nothing/ Everything is opposed to Something. Actually, not opposed, because it is a part of it , that came into being or always coming... Here we are ; how being everchanging 'something', having limited tools and capacity to comprehend grasp Everything ? To be this Nothing/ Everything ? I don't know.
      Is it actually possible ? Maybe not, but God bless those who try !
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    • Dec 14 2011: Ed !
      Maybe I understand it somehow, but I won't try again to explain what I probably understand,
      the very attempt just ruins the feeling of understanding. I tried it in Russian, I couldn't shape it either...
      So I leave it there/here in the feeling.
      Thank you !
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    Dec 13 2011: I am not even close to understanding the mathematics of Physics; however my gut instinct tells me that all 4 Forces are in fact, the same force...and yes quantum mechanics operate on a larger scale. :)
    • Dec 14 2011: Hi, Thomas !
      My gut instinct tells me the same, maybe there are even more than 4 Forces, the rest yet to be discovered, but still they are the one force.
      Maybe on the level of intuitive mind there are no division between 'micro' and 'macro' world. The problem is how to shape this into words and equations :)
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    • Dec 13 2011: Hi, Ed !
      It is not English that is so limited, simply language as a tool is limited... But you've managed.
      So, the observer creates the phenomenon, not because it has not existed before, but because the consciousness is ready to see it, choosing from out of all always existed/ existing possibilities.
      And there is no end to it, discovering and creating are the one ...
      Now I am striving to get something across. It's been better said : The knower is the known... the seer is the seen... the thinker is the thought.
      Is that what you've meant ? :)
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    Dec 11 2011: Relativity is nonsense. Tesla said so... Prepare to watch the scientific world shit a brick : p. A new genuis is on his way into the cannon, and if I had to put money on it, I'd say it's not going to be anyone we've ever heard of.
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    Dec 11 2011: Macro world is just a zoomed-out view of quantum world. Quantum mechanics is applicable to any scale, but less noticeable in some scales then the other ones.
    • Dec 11 2011: Hi, Farrukh !

      There is problem with the Standard Model, it describes, in a single mathematical framework, the basic constituents of nature and three of the four known forces that govern their interactions: electromagnetism; the “strong” force, which holds the nucleus of the atom together; and the “weak” force, which causes radioactive decay. The Standard Model is not particularly elegant... It leaves out the fourth force of nature, the earliest one to be discovered and the one with which we’re most familiar: gravity. Nobody has yet figured out how to describe gravity in the same language — the language of quantum mechanics . So we need a separate theory for gravity: Einstein’s general relativity theory."
      Some physicists are reasonably content with this division of labor. Let the Standard Model handle the small stuff (atoms on down, quantum world), and general relativity handle the massive stuff (macro world ). Some physicists like Aaron O'Connell are not quite satisfied with this approach.
      I am not a physicist I have nothing to add, I am just interested :)
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        Dec 11 2011: I think that people who apply different approach in modeling different scales are trying to make calculations and modeling easier. Down at micro scale particles have tiny mass, so they can't have noticeable gravitational effect. Therefore people tend to neglect gravity at small scales. But in fact, gravity at larger scale can be obtained applying superposition principle to all particles of the objects that are involved.
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        Dec 11 2011: Hi Natasha,

        I will pick up your comment and deviate from the main topic of the conversation a little bit (my major was physics, so i have a soft spot for it)

        Yes some physicist might be content with the division of labor but just as a shortcut way to make progress (as Farrukh has pointed out). In general it is a very uneasy compromise and many physicists i know consider it a bit embarrassing to have to use two different tools.

        But there are places in the universe where it is impossible to separate the micro from the macro. The prime example is a black hole, where gravity is not negligible even at the tiniest of scales, and the quantum effects of course are relevant at the same time.

        M-theory (which came out of string theory) is so far the latest attempt to describe these two realms in a unified way. But it is by no means complete or accepted by the scientific community as the unifying theory (at least not yet)

        • Dec 13 2011: Andres !
          Thank you very much for the comment !
          I don't have opinions in physics and generally try not to have any at all. But I do have some beliefs and one of them , the major one : everything is deeply connected, I do mean everything.
          The more divisions the less understanding " It's impossible to comprehend a part not comprehending the whole " I am highly interested in physics and physicists that insist that an entirely new framework must be found, one that would transcend the Standard Model by putting all four forces on the same theoretical footing. Only then, they argue, "will we understand how nature behaves at energies like those that prevailed at the Big Bang, when the four forces acted as one."

          The best candidate for such a unifying framework seems to be String Theory. Maybe we need a string to tie the connection between relativity and quantum mechanics ? :) String theory is a total revolution from above. Once you find the right principles to describe nature at the very highest energies, all else follows. The problem with String Theory is that so far, at least as far as I know, it makes no testable predictions. Or maybe it is not so true...One of the most remarkable predictions of String Theory is that space-time has 10 dimensions! (11 in M-theory). To a certain extend it depends on how LHC results will be interpreted, scientists could say we’ve discovered extra dimensions, which might provide evidence for string theory. Maybe Kaluza was right ?
        • Dec 14 2011: So this basically is an epistemological question. The way I see it is that it all boils down to a quantized system that involves not only the observed phenomena but the brain that is doing the observing. Is the logic that we percieve as logic is deeply rooted within the structure of the brain and therefor is it impossible for the brain to percieve higher order of symmetries just because of its limited structure? Or even going to a more fundamental level, how do you define existence? Why do we think the question 'Does the universe exist?' exists?
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      Dec 8 2011: Ah think I see what you are saying. Since quantum mechanics applies to point particles, then bringing it to a "larger scale" would imply translating it to the third dimension from the first. Is this what you mean?

      And very interesting article, thank you for sharing!
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    Dec 7 2011: I listened to Aaron . . . fabulous. Thank you for bringing it to this forum, as well as your question. I'm looking forward to replys. Oh, and I like your photo, too. I think we're living, or at least riding, a fractal.