News editor Mitchel Olszak

If you want to live longer, keep moving.

That may be good advice from a fitness advocate, encouraging people to have an active lifestyle in order to maintain good health.

But it’s also a law of physics. Under Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the faster an object moves, the more slowly time passes from its perspective.

Actually, this is more than just an idea put forth by an eccentric scientist with a disheveled haircut. Highly sensitive clocks have been placed aboard jets.

It turns out that there are subtle differences between the clocks on jets and their control counterparts on the ground. The clocks moving faster on jets show less time has passed for them.

This notion of slowing time as speed increases has been a fundamental plot point for many a time-traveling science fiction tale. That’s because Einstein’s concept has been interpreted to mean that the speed of light is a barrier that, when crossed, creates a new universe of possibilities.

If you could break light speed, it’s argued, you could go back in time. Or, perhaps you might not only stop aging, but actually grow younger.

Such notions would be dismissed as nonsense by Einstein, whose calculations determined that it’s impossible for anything to move faster 186,000 miles per second. Light speed isn’t a barrier waiting to be breached; instead, it’s an absolute maximum.

So much for all those sci-fi movies and novels.

But now come European scientists, who have been working with a supercollider to unlock some of the universe’s greatest mysteries. But studying subatomic particles, they have been hoping to understand such things as the Big Bang and to further confirm Einstein’s calculations and predictions.

Last week, these scientists raised the possibility that Einstein was wrong about light speed being absolute. And if their observations are confirmed, that means all of modern physics is fundamentally flawed.

What these scientists did was fire neutrinos (forms of subatomic particles) from their Geneva supercollider to a lab in Italy 454 miles away. Their measurements determined these particles covered the distance at a speed of 186,282 miles per second. That miniscule amount over the speed of light has the scientific world in shock.

Now, the experiment will be repeated and remeasured. Attempts also will be made to replicate it at Fermilab in Chicago.

It’s possible the researchers made a slight mistake. Perhaps their measurements in terms of time or distance were slightly off. After all, the data shows the neutrinos moving just a shade faster than light speed.

But the fact they have announced their findings publicly indicates they have gone back and checked everything they can think of. No one wants to announce one of mankind’s great discoveries, only to be told later he forgot to carry the one.

So for now, we must wait to learn if the universe and the laws that govern it are something other than what we believed. Maybe those time machines are possible after all.

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