Neutrinos trumps light again!

Light (or more precisely Electromagnetic radiation), from all over the universe eagerly await (i presume) the confirmations of the neutrino’s speed test. Have neutrinos done the unthinkable? Have they beaten the speed record of light. Of course, light already knows what the truth of the matter is… It has always known, if neutrinos are faster or not. It is us humble human beings, that will discover soon in enough what the truth is – if our assumptions upon which all of modern physics is built upon was correct or we have been made fools and our reality comes crashing down… We have some further results…

“The collaboration behind the experiment, called OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tracking Apparatus), made headlines in September with its claim that a beam of neutrinos made the 730-kilometre journey from CERN, Europe’s particle-physics lab near Geneva in Switzerland, to the Gran Sasso National Laboratory near L’Aquila, Italy, faster than the speed of light. The result defies Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which states that this cannot happen.”[1]

“Critics of the first report in September had said that the long bunches of neutrinos (tiny particles) used could introduce an error into the test. The new work used much shorter bunches.” [2]

“…at 10.5 microseconds (millionths of a second), the proton pulses that CERN used to generate the neutrino pulses were relatively long. OPERA could not know whether individual neutrinos received at Gran Sasso corresponded to protons early or late in the proton pulse, creating uncertainty around their travel time.
In October, OPERA therefore asked CERN to generate shorter proton pulses, lasting just 3 nanoseconds (billionths of a second), more than 3,000 times briefer than the earlier test. They have now recorded 20 events in the new data run, and have claimed a similar level of statistical significance to the first set of results.
Once again, the neutrinos would beat a light beam to Gran Sasso by 60 nanoseconds. The new result was released on the arXiv preprint server on 17 November [4].” [1]

Writing on his blog when the fine-tuned experiment started last month, Matt Strassler, a theoretical physicist at Rutgers University, said the shorter pulses of neutrinos being sent from Cern to Gran Sasso would remove the need to measure the shape and duration of the beam. “It’s like sending a series of loud and isolated clicks instead of a long blast on a horn,” he said. “In the latter case you have to figure out exactly when the horn starts and stops, but in the former you just hear each click and then it’s already over. In other words, with the short pulses you don’t need to know the pulse shape, just the pulse time.”
“And you also don’t need to measure thousands of neutrinos in order to reproduce the pulse shape, getting the leading and trailing edges just right; you just need a small number – maybe even as few as 10 or so – to check the timing of just those few pulses for which a neutrino makes a splash in Opera.””[3]

“The finding that neutrinos might break one of the most fundamental laws of physics sent scientists into a frenzy when it was first reported in September. Not only because it appeared to go against Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity but, if correct, the finding opened up the troubling possibility of being able to send information back in time, blurring the line between past and present and wreaking havoc with the fundamental principle of cause and effect.”[3]

Dr Carlo Contaldi of Imperial College London suggested that different gravitational effects at Cern and Gran Sasso could have affected the clocks used to measure the neutrinos. Others have come up with ideas about new physics that modify special relativity by taking the unexpected effects of higher dimensions into account.
Despite the latest result, said Autiero, the observed faster-than-light anomaly in the neutrinos’ speed from Cern to Gran Sasso needed further scrutiny and independent tests before it could be refuted or confirmed definitively. The Opera experiment will continue to take data with a new muon detector well into next year, to improve the accuracy of the results.
The search for errors is not yet over, according to Jacques Martino, director of the National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics at CNRS. He said that more checks would be under way in future, including ensuring that the clocks at Cern and Gran Sasso were properly synchronised, perhaps by using an optical fibre as opposed to the GPS system used at the moment.
This would remove any potential errors that might occur due to the effects of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which says that clocks tick at different rates depending on the amount of gravitational force they experience – clocks closer to the surface of the Earth tick slower than those further away.
Even a tiny discrepancy between the clocks at Cern and Gran Sasso could be at the root of the faster-than-light results seen in September.”  [3]

“For most physicists outside the collaboration, the key test will be replication by an independent experiment. The project best placed to confirm or refute OPERA’s result soonest is MINOS (Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search) at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois.
In response to the latest OPERA result, MINOS issued a statement saying that it is upgrading its timing system to match OPERA’s precision. MINOS might also be able to complete a preliminary check of the OPERA result, using its existing system, as soon as early 2012.
“OPERA is to be congratulated for doing some important and sensitive checks, but independent checks are the way to go,” says Rob Plunkett, co-spokesman for MINOS.” [1]

There is a change in the air… (see tomorrow’s article we will post in our blog, another new find in the world physics, that may change our perception of reality!)

[1] Nature News

[2] BBC News

[3] Guardian News

[4] The OPERA Collaboration, preprint at (2011).




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