‘Faster than the Speed of Light’ Findings in Doubt

Posted February 27th, 2012 at 11:31 pm (UTC+0)
3 comments

A view of the OPERA detector in Gran Sasso, Italy. Neutrino beams from CERN in Switzerland are sent over 700km through the Earth's crust to the laboratory in Italy. (Photo: CERN/Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso/OPERA)

A view of the OPERA detector in Gran Sasso, Italy. Neutrino beams from CERN in Switzerland are sent over 700km through the Earth's crust to the laboratory in Italy. (Photo: CERN/Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso/OPERA)

Scientists have found two technical glitches which could have an effect on last September’s findings that neutrinos were found to be traveling faster than the speed of light.

The scientific community was buzzing about the possibility  Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity -  which holds nothing travels faster than the speed of light – could be wrong.

The fuss started last year, when scientists from the Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Tracking Apparatus (OPERA) fired a beam of neutrinos – elementary particles which don’t hold an electrical charge and can pass through ordinary matter with virtually no interaction – from CERN’S particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland, to a laboratory in Italy, about 730 kilometers away.

The OPERA scientists found the sub-atomic particles traveled to the Italian lab at a speed of 300,006 kilometers per second, or 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light, which is 299,792.458 kilometers per second.

Now the folks from OPERA have identified two things that could have influenced its neutrino timing measurement. OPERA says these two recent findings still require further tests with a short-pulsed beam.

If the technical problems are confirmed, one of the effects would actually show that the neutrinos were traveling faster than originally measured, while the other  would show that the the sub-atomic particles were moving slower than measured, in other words, not faster than the speed of light.

OPERA says a problem with an oscillator used to provide the time stamps for GPS synchronizations in the experiment, could have led to an overestimate of the neutrinos’ time of flight.

The other concern has to do with the optical fiber connector that brings the external GPS signal to the OPERA master clock. If the master clock wasn’t functioning properly when the measurements were taken, it could have led to an underestimate of the time of flight of the neutrinos.

The scientists at OPERA are continuing their study of these two issues and have scheduled new measurements with short-pulsed beams for sometime in May.

3 Responses to “‘Faster than the Speed of Light’ Findings in Doubt”

  1. [...] 'Faster than the Speed of Light' Findings in Doubt The fuss started last year, when scientists from the Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Tracking Apparatus (OPERA) fired a beam of neutrinos – elementary particles which don't hold an electrical charge and can pass through ordinary matter with virtually … Read more on Voice of America (blog) [...]

  2. Rob Swift says:

    The Universe is a battery with a positive and a negative. It comprises essentially four elements fire water earth air. Earth is what we are standing on. You will have to work the rest out for yourself in the way Mr Einstein worked things out, but no-one to date gets close to him. Our scientists are running from the real truth, and giving accolades to each other instead, because there is no money in Truth. We have all seen one end of it, soon the other end will appear. The known universe can only expand so far. Good luck.

  3. Bono says:

    I’ve always doubted Einstein’s theory of relativity. I bet they find that their instruments are calibrated correctly and they have just discovered the rules of relativity break down in the sub atomic world. However, it’s always better to check and double check your findings before claiming something to be fact. But you wait, they will not find anything that warrants overturning their find and the laws of science will be re-written.

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