It’s unusual for the laws of physics to become prominent in our minds during the course of everyday life but various news items this week remind us how we live in the shadow of some fundamental truths.
Scientists at the laboratory in Cern think they have discovered particles that travel faster than the speed of light. The particles, called Muon Neutrinos, have been measured at a speed that is fractionally faster than light when shot from Switzerland to Italy. The result is puzzling the scientists who performed the experiment, so they’re getting their mates to check their stopwatches. However, if true, it will turn the theory that light travels the fastest, on it’s head.
That theory, by the way, is E=mc², where E refers to Energy. Therein lies a clue as to the relationship between theory and practice. In order to perform the experiment, they use equipment that consumes vast amounts of electricity, so you can bet that the energy company supplying the power will get their bill sent out faster than the speed of light. If Royal Mail has anything to do with it there is the distinct possibility that the bill sent to Switzerland will travel via Italy albeit somewhat slower than Warp Speed. It’s funny how Nature balances things out.
More evidence of the Energy Industry proving the theory to be true is the speed in which gas companies raise their prices at the slightest twitch in wholesale markets.
Another force of nature that has raised it’s profile this week is Gravity. The tentative title for this article was ‘What Goes Up, Must Come Down’. On reflection, however, it appears that Gravity is quite choosy, for example, stock markets around the world have plunged this week, whereas the Inflation Rate and Jobless figures are able to rise as free as a bird.
On a more global scale it appears that there is a space satellite, weighing around 5 tons and approximately the size of a bus that Gravity has chosen to demonstrate who’s boss. NASA has reassured us that because of its speed through the atmosphere, much of the bus will burn up before anyone gets seriously flattened. There is a concern though, that comparing it with the speed of buses around London, whether it will ever get fast enough to do any more than cause it’s radiator to overheat. As an aside, maybe London Transport could do a deal with the Cern guys and start topping up the buses with Muon Neutrinos? In fact, why not inflate the tyres of the Boris Bikes at the same time with Air de Muon – it would certainly give White Van Man something to think about.
In another area of the world people are performing their own practical demonstrations of speed, gravity and the equal and opposite force of objects. The new authorities in Libya are discouraging the people celebrating their victories by firing weapons in the air as there are more casualties from the revolution than is absolutely necessary. Apparently bullets do slow down significantly on the return journey when reliant on Gravity, however, they are still capable of making a very nasty dent.
Meanwhile, getting back down to earth, there was a news item that a man in Tasmania was fined by police for driving at 80mph in a 50mph area. His excuse was that he had just washed his car and was driving fast to dry it off. Personally, I’m suspicious he had inside knowledge of where the 5 ton satellite was due to land and was having a quick practice at outrunning it.