martes, 11 de marzo de 2008

Einstein was wrong

Traditional way of scientific thinking over the last century is being accused these days. Goverments are tired of spending gazillions of dollars in research facilities seeking for the ultimate particle (i.e. Higgs boson) or unified Theories which give precise account of every known interaction (electromagnetic, nuclear or gravitational). Maths are extremely complex and new students are loosing common sense and daring some dark corridors of knowledge that can be simply closed doors ("...but what if we find a solution with an extra eleven-dimension string?").
Two major challenges arise these days: short distances in the range of nuclei and very high speeds measured outside Solar Systems. In both cases actual theories crashes.
A nice article from The Economist of this weeks describes the last situation. Modern instruments have shown a departure from predictions in interplanetary space probes. Something odd happen with the last six of them: not much, four millimetres a second, in the case of Galileo probe.
John Anderson and his colleagues of JPL analysed six escapes from Solar System called slingshots. Crucially for the idea that there really is a systematic flaw in the laws of physics as they are understood today, their data can be described by a simple formula. It is therefore possible to predict what should happen on future occasions. Something doesn't work, even asuming all posible effects, tides, differente computing methods, etc. It seems that -although the cause would remain unknown-, a likely explanation is that something in the laws of gravity needs radical revision. So maybe after all, Einstein was wrong.

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