Deceptive Headlines misrepresenting science

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Here is an article I just found:

So it turns out the speed of light might not be constant after all

The content of the article is actually about how scientists are finding that space is not a perfect vacuum, and therefore light is actually traveling a minuscule amount slower through space than it's 186,000 mile per second maximum speed. My first thought was, "Well, duh!"

Indeed. The headline should be "space not quite as hard a vacuum as once thought", if what the article said was actually correct. But it's not. Here's a more technical discussion:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325111154.htm

So it's saying that even in a perfect vacuum, there are "virtual particles" that slow light down. And this is only theoretical possibility, it has not been observed.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Are these virtual particles that have come out of recent CERN research, or have they been around for a while?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The idea of virtual particles has been around for decades:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_particle#Vacuums

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_energy
What seems to be new is the model of the fluctuations in the levels of these virtual particles.

Quantum physics makes my head hurt.
 
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