The Speed Of Light Slows Down

Once upon a time, there was a blast of neutrinos detected on Earth, followed three hours later by another blast of neutrinos.  7.7 hours after the initial blast, a star brightened in the tell-tale signs of a supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud.  This is highly unusual because neutrinos and photons both travel at the speed of light and while it is known that photons spend the first 3 or so hours bouncing around inside a supernova, there’s still 4.7 hours unaccounted for.  Since scientists couldn’t explain the arrival time difference, they dismissed it as two separate occurrences even though the probability of them being related is quite high.

Now, scientists have a mathematical solution for the time difference.  Basically, it goes like this.  Neutrinos for the most part do not interact with matter at all.  They can go right through the Earth as if it were empty space.  Photons are not so lucky.  They can be bent by gravity, they can run into matter, and they can cease to be photons for miniscule moments of time to form an electron-positron pair.  The latter is where things get interesting.  An electron-positron pair suddenly has mass that can be much more affected by gravity than a lone photon.  It last for no time at all before going back to a photon, but scientists found that this new gravitational potential of the electron-positron pair corresponds to the missing 4.7 hours.

This is fascinating because a quantum mechanical effect has been combined with a relativistic effect to produce a result.  If this explanation for the missing 4.7 hours is correct, could this discovery lead us down the path of other discoveries that will lead to a unified field theory?  I also wonder what this means for our calculations of distances of objects.  If the Large Magellanic Cloud is 4.7 light hours farther away than previously thought at 160,000 light years distance, how much farther away is UDFj-39546284 at 13,370,000,000 distance?  What if the effect isn’t linear?

3 thoughts on “The Speed Of Light Slows Down

  1. Travis McChristian

    I might be wrong but isn’t a positron a positively charged electron? (electron antimatter in a sense) if that is true wouldn’t the combination of such two particles annialate each other and create gamma rays? so I wonder if the photons (that are more affected by gravity/matter) might be interacting with either gravity waves or dark matter (or both) to make up for the missing time differential. What do you think jean-paul? Let me know if I’m missing some fundamental understanding of this.

    1. Jean-Paul Post author

      You are correct about the whole antimatter thing and the two annihilating. How a photon can change into a positron-electron pair for that fraction of a second and then turn right back into the same photon is beyond me, but it’s a known phenomenon and the positron-electron pair exists for a non-zero amount of time and it’s there where the mass is greatly increased and it interacts with gravity from whatever. Or so their theory goes. It’s just something that fits the observations they’ve made more than there is any solid proof from it, but it’s intriguing nonetheless.

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