FTL Neutrinos seen again in tweaked setup


Having published results earlier this Fall that neutrinos were observed apparently traveling faster than the speed of light, the CERN has made some modifications to their setup based on others critiques and re-run their experiment. They observe the same effect.

BBC News – Neutrino experiment repeat at Cern finds same result:

The initial series of experiments, comprising 16,000 separate measurements spread out over three years, found that the neutrinos arrives 60 billionths of a second faster than light would have, travelling unimpeded over the same distance.

The idea that nothing can exceed the speed of light in a vacuum forms a cornerstone in physics – first laid out by James Clerk Maxwell and later incorporated into Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity.

Initial analysis of the work by the wider scientific community argued that the relatively long bunches of neutrinos could introduce a significant error into the measurement.

Those bunches lasted 10 millionths of a second – 160 times longer than the discrepancy the team initially reported in the neutrinos’ travel time.

To address that, scientists at Cern adjusted the way in which the proton beams were produced, resulting in bunches just three billionths of a second long, so the Opera collaboration could repeat the measurements.

(Via www.bbc.co.uk)

I believe Fermi Lab is in the process of trying to duplicate the original experiment (it’s the only facility currently operating that can achieve the necessary energies. Let’s see what they find!

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Guy Butler says

    Curiouser and curiouser…

    Apparently the scientists at ICARUS measured the same neutrinos that OPERA was measuring, and they say that the neutrinos can’t be superluminal – the measured neutrino energy is the same as for “normal” speed-of-light neutrinos. According to them, the neutrinos should have shown a significant energy drop if they travelled even slightly faster than the speed of light.
    Now I get to try and explain quarks to my daughter – she was asking my wife about them on the way home from school today.

    — James Ph. Kotsybar

    Oh, little neutral one of tiny mass,
    who flies anomolously from the sun,
    you zip through matter photons cannot pass:
    Could this explain the races you have won?

    From Einstein, few believe that it could be
    that any mass can go as fast as light —
    it’s deemed complete impossibility,
    assuming Relativity is right.

    If proved, the implications terrible,
    will give complacent physicists a scare.
    In terms that twist the ancient parable
    it’s you that’s tortoise; the photon’s the hare.

    It seems, though steady, light can’t keep up pace.
    You oscillate, and yet you win the race.

  3. Bill Ghrist says

    We have two seemingly conflicting data points now–the CERN results and the supernova results (I am doing this from memory, so I might not have all the particulars straight). There is one obvious difference between the two: the neutrinos from the supernova traveled almost their entire path through empty space; the CERN neutrinos traveled almost their entire path through solid rock. Taken at face value these results would seem to indicate that, at a macro scale, neutrinos travel faster through dense mass than through a vacuum. This seems counter-intuitive, but it seems counter-intuitive simply that neutrinos travel through solid rock with virtually no interaction. What if the way that a neutrino travels through solids is that whenever it encounters a nucleus, rather than going through the nucleus it “tunnels” through in a quantum mechanical-like way? That way it would avoid interaction with the nucleus and would leave a tiny gap in its path of travel. Thus the path of a neutrino through a solid would not be an unbroken straight line, but would be a series of short lines and small gaps. If the total of all the gaps between CERN and the detector added up to about 20 meters, that could account for the 60 nanosecond discrepancy in the travel time. In other words it may be that the neutrinos are not traveling faster than light, but are traveling a shorter cumulative distance than is thought. I haven’t tried to do the math on this ((I am in a hotel on a holiday trip), but it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable that a neutrino could “tunnel” through enough nuclii between CERN and the detector to add up to that much missing travel path.

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