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Faster than light particles discovered

world Updated: Sep 23, 2011 23:49 IST

Physicists around the world expressed astonishment and scepticism on Friday after European scientists reported particles apparently travelling faster than light.

Tiny specks called neutrinos were clocked at 300,006 kilometres per second — slightly faster than the speed of light — along a 730-kilometre trajectory between the European Centre for Nuclear Research in Switzerland and a laboratory in Italy.

If verified, the results would dismantle a key plank of Einstein’s theory of relativity and deeply unsettle our understanding of the physical world.

"That is a very, very big 'if'," said Alfons Weber, an expert on neutrinos. "Since this is the only indication we have that there is something wrong (with Einstein’s theory), we need to see if there is some measurement artifact" which could have biased the results, he said.