Scientists from the CERN laboratory in Switzerland say they have been able to observe small particles called neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light in a vacuum. If so, this would contradict perhaps the most fundamental hypothesis of micro and macro physics. It would in fact debunk the Theory of Relativity.


Per the 1st article:

Realizing full well how scandalous the results will be if they are borne out, the scientists behind OPERA, led by Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern, have decided to make their data public, in hopes of inviting scrutiny that could make sense of such radical findings.


Per the 2nd article:


If MINOS were to confirm OPERA's find, the consequences would be enormous. "If you give up the speed of light, then the construction of special relativity falls down," says  Antonino Zichichi , a theoretical physicist and emeritus professor at the University of Bologna, Italy. Zichichi speculates that the "superluminal" neutrinos detected by OPERA could be slipping through extra dimensions in space, as predicted by theories such as string theory.


Per the 3ird article:


At least one other experiment has seen a similar effect before, albeit with a much lower confidence level. In 2007, the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) experiment in Minnesota saw neutrinos from the particle-physics facility Fermilab in Illinois arriving slightly ahead of schedule.


Per the 5th article:


Even this small deviation would open up the possibility of time travel and play havoc with longstanding notions of cause and effect. Einstein himself — author of modern physics — said that if you could send a message faster than light, "You could send a telegram to the past."


Attempts at further verifying the finding certainly seem to be in order. A preprint of the results will be published Friday (Sept. 23) on the physics website


Update 1: A second more refined experiment at CERN has confirmed the results of the first. More experimentation is nonetheless necessary to resolve questions pertaining to the synchronization of the clocks used in the experiments. Per the article below:


Per the 1st article below:


Not only has the beam precision been improved, she says, but the statistical analysis is also more robust and has been replicated by groups within OPERA besides the original team.

Per the 2nd article below:


Wiseman says that the difficulty of the experiment and a lack of detail about clock synchronization in the initial OPERA paper may explain why so few critiques of the experiment methodology have been published so far, although more are probably on the way.


Update 2: The OPERA collaboration now says that the faster than light travel of neutrinos suggested by its experiments may have been an erroneous result of faulty GPS synchronization of the atomic clocks used in them.


But according to a statement OPERA began circulating today, two possible problems have now been found with its set-up. As many physicists had speculated might be the case, both are related to the experiment’s pioneering use of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals to synchronize atomic clocks at each end of its neutrino beam....An anonymously sourced account on Science Insider today broke the news that OPERA may have made a mistake . That report says the faulty connection can account exactly for the 60 nanosecond effect. OPERA’s official statement stops short of that, saying instead that its two possible sources of error point in opposite directions and it is still working things out.


Update 3: An independent experiment called ICARUS contradicts the faster than light travel of neutrinos supposedly detected by the OPERA experiment. Per the article:


"Our results are in agreement with what Einstein would like to have," says Carlo Rubbia, the spokesperson for ICARUS and a Nobel prizewinning physicist at CERN. Neutrinos measured by the experiment arrived within just 4 nanoseconds of the time that light travelling through a vacuum would take to cover the distance, well within the experimental margin of error.


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Replies to This Discussion

No, I got it the moment I read it.  I just couldn't think of any comment to add.
I'm stealing that one for my FB status, when I get home tonight. <3 Nice one!
I got it before you wrote it!
Ooooo, Let's do the Time Warp AGAAAAAAAAAAAAAIN!
Heh, and we've begun going meta, I see.  :-D

I knew that a day ago. I received the information on my FTL neutrino, 5th
dimensional communicator.

Wow, that's one hell of a margin of error.

It's beginning to look like it's down to clock synchronization errors:


Some scientists are saying that the values of the parameters used to set up the experiment could not have been set with a high enough confidence level to warrant the validity of the very small faster than light differential supposedly detected at the end.


Per the article:


Fermilab physicist Joseph Lykken told Jennifer that the OPERA results were "a pretty messy way to try to test a fundamental property. You have a proton beam at CERN that makes the neutrinos, but you don't know which proton made which neutrino. This makes it tough to claim nanosecond timing of the neutrinos."


Krauss agrees that the result more likely comes from a systematic error:


The claim that neutrinos arrived at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy from CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland on average 60 billionths of a second before they would have if they were traveling at light speed relies on complicated statistical analysis. It must take into account the modeling of the detectors and how long their response time is, careful synchronization of clocks and a determination of the distance between the CERN accelerator and the Gran Sasso detector accurate to a distance of a few meters. Each of these factors has intrinsic uncertainties that, if misestimated, could lead to an erroneous conclusion.


Although the neutrinos appeared to arrive at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy (some 454 miles from the LHC -- the source of the neutrinos) faster than light would have taken, it is much more likely that there is some unaccounted-for error in the method rather than any unforeseen kink in the physical nature of our universe.


Lykken and Krauss point to the "messy" way in which the neutrinos were generated and measured as  potentially accounting for the 60-nanosecond discrepancy between the speed of light and that of the measured neutrino beam.

There is more scientific doubt that the neutrinos actually traveled faster than light. That is, some scientists are saying that the neutrinos lacked a radiation property that should have been present if they had truly traveled faster than light. In answer to this is the theory that the radiation property might not be expected if the neutrinos traveled through extra dimensions. Needless to say, attempts to duplicate the supposed faster than light result are very much in order.


Per the article regarding the radiation:


Autiero adds that the assumptions made by Cohen and Glashow may not be universally valid. Giacomo Cacciapaglia, a theoretical physicist at King's College London, agrees, saying that not all models of faster-than-light neutrinos have to respect the assumptions of Cohen and Glashow. For example, neutrinos might be able to travel faster than light by taking a shortcut through extra dimensions, in which case they might not radiate.


Also per the article:


Two experiments are planning to try to test OPERA's measurement of neutrino velocity: the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) experiment based at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, and the Tokai to Kamioka (T2K) experiment in Japan. Neither is likely to have results for some months.  

It seems the mistake in the experiment was found!

If no one has seen this before (There is no mention of this link in previous answers) here it is:

Ronald van Elburg, University of Groningen in the Netherlands, makes a convincing argument that he has found the error.

The irony is that, instead of proving Einstein is wrong, the experiment in fact has, once again, proved that the theory is right!!!

I think Elburg might be mixing apples and oranges. That is, it is true that from the perspective of the satellites the neutrinos would travel a shorter distance than from the perspective of earth. However, thinking of the neutrinos as marbles rather than particles of light, they would correctively travel slower from the perspective of the satellites than from the perspective of earth, thus negating the supposed error that he says would exist due to the relative motion between the satellites and earth. I am thinking that this negation would result in the time of travel of the neutrinos per the satellites being equal to the time of travel of the neutrinos per the earth. Accordingly, it appears that the time of travel would have been accurately measured after all. He seems to be mixing apples and oranges by using the perspective of the satellites to determine the distance traveled while using the perspective of earth to determine the speed traveled.



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