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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Neutrino's supposedly faster than light.

Neutrinos Travel Faster Than Light, According to One Experiment

I got really excited when I read that "... particles had been found that travel faster than light ...". ( local teletext ). Wouldn't that be amazing? I mean, all the major scientific discoveries seem to have been made in the distant past. ( Physics and mathematics, I mean ). That would change overnight if Einstein's law of relativity got broken.

My guess? A measurement error. They are talking about a particle that traveled 60 nanoseconds faster than expected. One nanosecond is 1/10^9 part of a second. I am sure they have found some ingenuous way to measure speeds involving figures like that, but NOT when the figures depend on GPS! Come on, GPS.

I am afraid that this could turn into something very, very embarrassing for CERN. I hope their P/R people are as brilliant as the scientists they employ. ( Except the guy who was -?- responsible for measuring the speed of neutrino's, of course. )


  1. Yes I would wait and see what happens

  2. @Chris, CERN supposedly checked the data for months. Still, I do think it's somewhat of a stunt since only Fermi lab can do the experiment but only after an upgrade. Fermi lab suffered severe budget cuts and I think the upgrade requires a lot of money ( ... ). Anyway, I read that Fermi lab had similar results in 2007 but couldn't confirm due to margin of error too wide.

  3. The problem why most physicists are reluctant to accept this (at least as stated) is that the speed of light being constant in all inertial reefrence frames is a consequence of symmetry so it's not just an empirical matter.

    Einstein when he had the idea of special relativity could have gone two ways. He could either have modified Maxwell's equations to account for the null results of the Michelson Morley experiment. Or he could have done what he did impose the invariance of Maxwell's equations on Newtonian Mechanics. Given the success that this approach has had in twentieth century physics it's going to take more than a single rogue result to convince physicists that a fundamental symmetry underlying physics namely the invariance of Maxwell's equations under the Lorentz transformations is fundamentally wrong.

  4. There must be a limit to measurability. What would the margin of error calculation be like in that experiment. Besides that satellite links are included the battery of instruments is *huge*. Perhaps it takes some distance ( from CERN and the problem ) to 'get it'.

    I haven't discarded my Fermilab funding conspiracy theory yet! ;-)


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(Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion, colloquially aka Raumpatrouille Orion was the first German science fiction television series. Its seven episodes were broadcast by ARD beginning September 17, 1966. The series has since acquired cult status in Germany. Broadcast six years before Star Trek first aired in West Germany (in 1972), it became a huge success.)