The lastest in science news, is the announcement, on September 23, of the measurement of a neutrino burst traveling at 60.7 nanoseconds above the speed of light.
Neutrinos are subatomic particles that occur in nature, as the result of nuclear fusion from the sun, atmospheric atomic reactions, supernovae and geologically in the form of background radiation.
The specific neutrinos now in the spotlight, were humanly generated at the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) accelerator in the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva and were accelerated to the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy.
Having nearly no mass and being of a neutral charge enables neutrinos to pass through matter completely unimpeded. Even these characteristics, however, have not excluded this unique particle from E=mc2, which is the formula for the cosmic speed limit of light … or anything else.
That very formula, and the common belief that nothing travels faster than the speed of light, may now be in question.
CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Alysia Marino, whose work specializes in understanding the properties of the neutrino, told Examiner, “These measurements are very challenging to do, so I’m not completely convinced by the result right now. But it would be enormously exciting if this result is confirmed, perhaps the greatest discovery in physics in 100 years. The good news is that there are other existing experiments that may be able to cross check these results in the future.”
Marino was named on September 26, by President Obama, as one of the 2011 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
13 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers have been awarded and they have received this recognition due to excellence in a variety of scientific fields.
In a CU press release, President Obama stated, “It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers – careers that I know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the nation. That so many of them are also devoting their time to mentoring and other forms of community service speaks volumes about their potential for leadership, not only as scientists but as model citizens.”
The awardees were nominated by the DOE and their work is funded by the DOE Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration.
For scientists and engineers who are in the early stages of their careers, the PECASE award is the highest of its type given by the U.S. government.
The 2011 PECASE award will be given to 94 researchers who are supported by 16 different federal departments and agencies. In addition, each winner will be supported in their research with funding from DOE for five years.
Marino also received the 2010 DOE Early Career Research Program award along with CU’s Michael Hermele and Tobin Munsat (physics) and Arthi Jayaraman (chemical and biological engineering). These are the most awards given to any single university in the nation.
A ceremony will be held on October 14 at the White House, to officially honor the 2011 PECASE award winners.
attributions: Alysia Marino, CU press release.