And while the speed of light is 300,000 kilometres per second, they say their beam travelled 0.0025 per cent faster – closer to 300,750 kilometres per second or 1.082 billion kilometres an hour.
Albert Einstein himself believed that undetectable particles moving faster than the speed of light could exist. These particles have since been named ‘tachyons’.
However, Einstein claimed that tachyons couldn’t be used to transport energy, matter or information – crushing the dreams of most sci-fi geeks of travelling faster than light-speed in space-ships across the galaxy.
But this latest discovery in Geneva has reignited debate that the ‘speed of light’ barrier could be broken.
Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern said the result of CERN’s neutrino experiment was a complete surprise.
“The potential impact on science is too large to draw immediate conclusions or attempt physics interpretations,” he said.
“My first reaction is that the neutrino is still surprising us with its mysteries.”
Because the results of the CERN team’s experiment are at odds with such well-established laws of nature, they’re now looking to their scientific peers for independent analysis.
CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci said “when an experiment finds an apparently unbelievable result... it’s normal procedure to invite broader scrutiny, and this is exactly what [we’re] doing, it’s good scientific practice”.
“If this measurement is confirmed, it might change our view of physics, but we need to be sure that there are no other, more mundane, explanations,” he said.
And the critics have already started weighing in on the debate.
Henryk Frystacki is a member of the Russian Academy of Technical Sciences and author of Einstein’s Ignorance of Dark Energy.
He is critical of the results from the CERN experiment that anything could break the light barrier and compares the results to that of other experiments measuring light from supernovas (exploding stars).
Mr Frystacki says that when a supernova occurs, if neutrino beams actually do travel faster than the speed of light, they should be recorded a significant time before the light from the supernova reaches earth and is seen by scientists.
“As observations of supernova bursts did not register neutrino beams a long time before the arrival of the photons of these cosmic catastrophes, the experiment at CERN requires very critical reconsideration,” he said.