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?