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Sunday 9 October 2011

Neutrinos and Arsenic

Do particles that travel faster than light exist? This is a question people have been asking since last Thursday when CERN laboratories in Switzerland announced that they had observed neutrinos travelling with velocities greater than of light. Even before this announcement some western Physicists had been speculating on particles travelling with velocities greater than of light and had even named them tachyons. However, these exotic particles would have had imaginary masses, whatever that means, and many Physicists were not willing to buy the idea. The claim by the CERN scientists was more down to earth. They had measured the time taken by neutrinos to travel a distance of 730 kilometres to a place in Italy and had found that the neutrinos covered that distance in 60 nanoseconds less than the time taken by photons or light radiation.

It would not be possible for Sri Lanka to undertake to carry out these experiments as our equipments are nowhere near what CERN have accumulated in the recent past. Thus even though the westerners claim that the experiments in western science should be able to be repeated by “anybody”, in practise there is only one other group, namely the Fermi Laboratories that can even think of repeating the experiments. There had been a third laboratory in Japan but unfortunately it has slowed down after the Japanese tsunami. Thus it comes down to only two laboratories including CERN in the whole world that can repeat the experiments. Then it is said the equipment in Fermi Laboratory are not sensitive as those in the CERN laboratories and thus the scientists will have to depend on measurements taken by one Laboratory exploding the myth of repeating an experiment by so called independent observers.

Neutrinos are supposed to be particles that come in three different flavours. The name flavour has been given to these particles to describe a certain abstract property of them and it is said that the neutrinos change their flavour while they travel to the earth from Sun where they are emitted from. There are different opinions about the mass of the neutrinos and some western Physicists are of the view that the mass is zero. Photons (light) also have zero mass and if the neutrinos are mass less then they should also travel with the velocity of light. The uncertainties on the mass of the neutrinos may be associated with the determination of their velocities and the Physicists world over are very cautious of the experiments carried out at CERN.

In any event though the results of the CERN experiments are in contradiction with special theory of relativity which is now more than hundred years old, and a pillar of western Physics, the western Physicists in the other laboratories nor of the same laboratory did not go round claiming that the equipments at CERN were not working or experiments had not been carried out at CERN or the Physicists who were involved with the neutrino experiments were publicity seeking unethical persons. All that they said was that the experiment had to be repeated especially at Fermi laboratories.

I mention this fact in order to compare with the behaviour of some of our “scientists” when we announced that Arsenic was present in pesticides and water in Rajarata areas. Of course the clue had been given to us by the Devivaru but we had tested various samples of pesticides and water from Rajarata for Arsenic in the laboratories of the University of Kelaniya using methods in western Chemistry. Our so called scientists went round saying that either we had not tested for Arsenic or that the relevant equipment at the University of Kelaniya were out of order or we had based ourselves only on the word of Devivaru. It is unfortunate that the persons responsible at that stage for all these propaganda against us were few of the so called Chemists attached to the University of Kelaniya.

They were never interested in repeating the experiments at other laboratories even after we gave our method at number of seminars and were only interested in slinging mud against the group that was involved with observations and experiments connected with the Rajarata Kidney Disease. It was with great difficulty after the Sri Lanka Customs and the Government of Sri Lanka exerted their influence that at least one laboratory decided to repeat the experiments. Strangely enough the results of their experiments have not been made public yet and no further action has been taken in this regard.

One of the criticisms made by the scientists in Sri Lanka who are nothing but glorified technicians involved with “cookery” was that we had not published our results in a so called peer reviewed journal and had announced them to the local press. The public was made to understand that publishing in so called peer reviewed journals was the only accepted practice in science and that we were only publicity seekers. As far as we were concerned we were interested in getting the government to do something about the pesticides containing Arsenic and were not after so called research papers in “prestigious” journals. Arsenic in water or pesticides is not a major “finding” in western Chemistry and the international press was not interested in our work. The government media and some others as well were hostile to our work and finally the issue has been forgotten though some of our associates are now involved with a movement to cultivate using traditional methods that were available in Sri Lanka before the English ruined our “govikama” and the economy.

Now when I heard the news of faster than light particles on Friday I was interested in finding out the prestigious journal that published this interesting result. However, the CERN group had announced their results to the press and not published in a peer reviewed journal. Their results may be true or not but the fact remains that the world including the western Physicists some of whom are not mere glorified technicians but who can produce new concepts, theories, experimental methods rather than involving themselves with “cookery” in the laboratories came to know of the results through media. They have not asked for peer reviewed papers and are only interested in repeating the experiment at CERN as well as at Fermi Laboratories.

Now coming back to the question of whether there are particles that travel with velocities greater than light all that can be said at this point is that normal thinking would suggest that if special theory of relativity is correct then there cannot be such particles. However, there are ways of accommodating such particles within special relativity and I am sure all that is needed is to make special relativity a relative theory rather than a theory applicable to all particles. In fact in Quantum Mechanics communication takes place between entangled particles with velocities greater than of light and if so there must be some mechanism either using “particles” or some other “substance” or even mere space time that makes it possible. All these questions have to be answered within the broader context of existence and these will be discussed under the series on so called scientific knowledge.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva