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100 years old doubt is gaining momentum - Neutrinos clocked faster than light   100 years old doubt is gaining momentum - Neutrinos clocked faster than light
By Salar Golestanian @ 23 Sep 2011 :: Article Rating
 
It was only a couple of days ago when I talked about universal laws of physics may not be uniform across time and space. Now it seems that we don't have to travel too far and proof is only a few hundred miles in central Europe. The Physics shocker talked about in the last few hours is that Neutrinos are clocked faster than light itself.

The simple experiment was to check as part of the OPERA experiment, physicists tracked how long it takes for neutrons generated at CERN to reach a detector 730km away in Italy. Although this is only a smidgen faster, but enough to raise a serious possibility that Einstein's physics need a major overhaul. The shocking result that is bound to come under tremendous scrutiny because it would upend the field of physics if confirmed.

neutrinos faster than light

The scientists sent a beam of neutrinos from CERN, on the Swiss-French border near Geneva, to the INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare) Gran Sasso Laboratory in central Italy, 730 kilometers (454 miles) away, in a research project called OPERA. The physicists had planned to study a rare event, the transformation of the muon variety of neutrinos into the tau variety. Instead, they found the extraordinary result that the neutrinos appeared to travel faster than the speed of light.

Under Einsteinian physics, nothing can exceed the speed of light, and so far, nothing has challenged that conclusion. At particle accelerators over the decades, subatomic particles are pushed to ever-higher speeds, but it takes ever more energy to attain each new fractional step toward the speed of light. Instead of going faster when driven with higher-energy accelerators, the particles get heavier. That phenomenon is described by Einstein's famous equation linking energy (E), mass (m), and the square of the speed of light (c): E=mc2.

mc2 or not

But over the last three years, the OPERA experiment has gathered high-precision data on exactly how long it took for the neutrinos to make a journey that should last about 2.4 thousandths of a second. The neutrinos, though, arrived about 61 billionths of a second sooner than would light traveling in a vacuum, where its speed is at a maximum.
That's about 2 thousandths of a percent faster than the speed of light--not much, but more than enough to throw a major wrench into the workings of physics if the result is validated.

Here is what the paper says:

Measurement of the neutrino velocity with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam

OPERA (Submitted on 22 Sep 2011)
The OPERA neutrino experiment at the underground Gran Sasso Laboratory has measured the velocity of neutrinos from the CERN CNGS beam over a baseline of about 730 km with much higher accuracy than previous studies conducted with accelerator neutrinos. The measurement is based on high-statistics data taken by OPERA in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. Dedicated upgrades of the CNGS timing system and of the OPERA detector, as well as a high precision geodesy campaign for the measurement of the neutrino baseline, allowed reaching comparable systematic and statistical accuracies. An early arrival time of CNGS muon neutrinos with respect to the one computed assuming the speed of light in vacuum of (60.7 \pm 6.9 (stat.) \pm 7.4 (sys.)) ns was measured. This anomaly corresponds to a relative difference of the muon neutrino velocity with respect to the speed of light (v-c)/c = (2.48 \pm 0.28 (stat.) \pm 0.30 (sys.)) \times 10-5.

This paper, written by 174 authors, describes the result this way: "We cannot explain the observed effect in terms of presently known systematic uncertainties," referring to factors within the equipment that generates and detects the neutrinos. "Therefore, the measurement indicates an early arrival time of...muon neutrinos with respect to the one computed assuming the speed of light in vacuum."

"This result comes as a complete surprise," said Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern, a spokesman for the experiment, in a statement on the CERN web site. "After many months of studies and cross checks we have not found any instrumental effect that could explain the result of the measurement." However, he added, "the potential impact on science is too large to draw immediate conclusions or attempt physics interpretations."

So it seems that on the one hand there seems to be areas in the universe that physical constants may not be the same as it is here close to earth. And on the other hand, the basic laws of physics like velocity of light that traditionally was considered to be the top possible speed that can exist in our universe is also not quite right. The old Einstein theory says that for anything to move faster than light one needs infinite amount of energy. Now if neutrinos have surpassed that ceiling without any energy invested in them, one would think what else is there that can defy these elementary laws of physics.

So if nothing can exceed the speed of light, and so far, nothing has challenged that conclusion on earth. Then the famous equation linking energy (E), mass (m), and the square of the speed of light (c): E=mc2 is going to be in question even if the Neutrinos with very small mass are only about 2 thousandths of a percent faster than the speed of light--not much, but this is more than enough to throw a major wrench into the workings of physics if the result is validated.

However, this is our perception of space and time and any experiment done relative to us on our little earth is bound to conform more or less to e=mc2. However until now question was only asked from observations of distant stars at distant times. So perhaps then the Physical constants were not as constant as physics states. Now we also need to consider and analyse what happened here at CERN. I will be watching with great interest in the next few months to see what comes off this experiment.

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About Scifiwood News Reviews and Blogs
These are various short and long News Articles, Reviews and Blogs by Salar Golestanian and employees of SalarO.com as well as contributors of Scifiwood.com. The subject matter are mixed topics with Pure Science to Science Fiction as well as general topics on Web Trends, Technology, Software Engineering genre, or whatever subject that can affect the convergence of today's technology with Science Fiction in any shape or form.  These Blogs and Reviews don't have commercial or corporate aspiration, so they are indeed completely independent views. Some of these entries may be short and just link you to the actual news or site that can expand further on the subject of interest.  In Phase II we plan to incorporate some Social Networking applications within the portal.