The POTW: Verse Til It Hurts


POTW #777
(Week of 25 September, 2011)

In the science news this week are some neutrinos (tiny neutral particles) which, according to the experimental data, have been breaking the speed limit on their way from Switzerland to Italy, and by speed limit I mean the ultimate speed limit, the speed of light. Nobody is quite sure what to make of this yet, especially since it flies somewhat in the face of Albert Einstein's rather solid theories, which have otherwise been supported over and over by pretty much everything we've been able to observe. Neutrinos are notoriously difficult to detect, and the time differences involved are quite tiny, so many scientists have pointed out that it's entirely possible that there is simply some shortcoming in the data collection. Others have proposed extra-dimensional jumps as an explanation. Possibly it's just that the scientists are not using International Color Time, who knows? Me, I always think gravity is the culprit, it warps space-time and screws up everything. But I also like the idea that there are some plucky particles defying the established wisdom, and why should light get to be the fastest thing, anyway? What's so special about light?


In the vacuumed empty vastness
Right of way goes to the massless
And light should always be the fastest
Though perhaps that's not quite fair
It might be possible to crack this
If not in theory, then in practice
Reality defies exactness
Unseen factors linger there
When gravity-mangled space and time
With all their twisted, blurry lines
Are the scene of a velocity crime
One questions jurisdiction
And what provisions in the laws
Allow defendants to show just cause
Where is the arbitration clause
Of science fact and fiction?

Copyright © 2011 by Dave Grossman

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