When some scientists at CERN thought they'd shown neutrino particles traveling faster than the speed of light last year, they announced they'd maybe wobbled the laws of physics. On Wednesday, they suggested an alternate theory: The results were due to a loose wire.
As one smug scientist (University of Chicago physics chair Edward Bluche, to be precise) told Reuters, "maybe they should have waited a few more months" before suggesting they'd broken Albert Einstein's law of special relativity that says nothing can travel faster than light. CERN physicists on Wednesday said they had found a loose fiber optic connector in a system that brought GPS data from the particles in the OPERA experiment to a master clock, and that's why they might have recorded neutrinos traveling from CERN to the Gran Sasso laboratory near Rome in less time than it would take light to travel. "A possible explanation has been found. But we won't know until we have tested it out with a new beam to Gran Sasso," CERN spokesman James Gillies told Reuters. So yeah, maybe with everything plugged in correctly the second run of this experiment will shake the very foundations of physics. But probably not.