News24

Study rejects faster-than-light particle

2011-11-22 08:37

Geneva - An international team of scientists in Italy studying the same neutrino particles colleagues say appear to have travelled faster than light rejected the startling finding this weekend, saying their tests had shown it must be wrong.

The September announcement of the finding, backed up last week after new studies, caused a furore in the scientific world as it seemed to suggest Albert Einstein's ideas on relativity, and much of modern physics, were based on a mistaken premise.

The first team, members of the Opera experiment at the Gran Sasso laboratory south of Rome, said they recorded neutrinos beamed to them from the Cern research centre in Switzerland as arriving 60 nanoseconds before light would have done.

But Icarus, another experiment at Gran Sasso - which is deep under mountains and run by Italy's National Institute of National Physics - now argues that their measurements of the neutrinos energy on arrival contradict that reading.

In a paper posted on Saturday on the same website as the Opera results, the Icarus team says their findings "refute a superluminal [faster than light] interpretation of the Opera result".

Scepticism

They argue, on the basis of recently published studies by two top US physicists, that the neutrinos pumped down from Cern, near Geneva, should have lost most of their energy if they had travelled at even a tiny fraction faster than light.

But in fact, the Icarus scientists say, the neutrino beam as tested in their equipment registered an energy spectrum fully corresponding with what it should be for particles travelling at the speed of light and no more.

Physicist Tomasso Dorigo, who works at Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, and the US Fermilab near Chicago, said in a post on the website Scientific Blogging that the Icarus paper was "very simple and definitive".

It says, he wrote, "that the difference between the speed of neutrinos and the speed of light cannot be as large as that seen by Opera, and is certainly smaller than that by three orders of magnitude, and compatible with zero".

Under Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity, nothing can travel faster than light. That idea lies at the heart of all current science of the cosmos and of how the vast variety of particles that make it up behave.

There was widespread scepticism when the Opera findings were first revealed, and even the leaders of the experiment insisted that they were not announcing a discovery, but simply recording measurements they had made and carefully checked.

However, last Friday they said a new experiment with shorter neutrino beams from Cern and much larger gaps between them had produced the same result. Independent scientists said, however, this was not conclusive.

Other experiments are being prepared - at Fermilab and at the KEK laboratory in Japan - to try to replicate Opera's findings. Only confirmation from one of these would open the way for a full scientific discovery to be declared.

Comments
  • Tim√ęsto Van Dyk - 2011-11-22 08:42

    Scientists are sometimes dumb...do they not realize that there are things in this bloody planet they won't understand now, let along the universe. What they prove wrong now they will approve later.

      Bernard - 2011-11-22 10:29

      How does a willingness to ask questions and try to understand the things we don't understand make you dumb?

      Chris - 2011-11-22 10:42

      Timesto mate, I think you rather refrain from calling highly intelligent scientists "dumb" (I think you were looking for "stupid", dumb means you have the inability to speak). Such observations tend to to backfire in your face and you end up looking ... dumb?

      adrian.berghoff - 2011-11-22 10:45

      Erm.... well just by looking at your grammar, your opinion is invalidated.

      ClaudsClosest - 2011-11-22 12:25

      Timesto you just divided by zero. Not cool.

      jman.man.71 - 2012-06-08 15:15

      Written on a laptop...using the internet...and the alphabet........

  • Aaron - 2011-11-22 08:46

    LOL! "Compatible with zero" - my new all time favourite phrase!!

  • Andries - 2011-11-22 08:48

    this would be an interesting change to how we see the world! looking forward to how this develops

  • Aquila - 2011-11-22 08:52

    The paper apparently refuting the FTL result is over a month old. New confirmation has since come from the original OPERA team.

  • Dank - 2011-11-22 08:56

    Now where's that other cake whom argued against Einstein like he done the research himself?

      NuttyZA - 2011-11-22 09:11

      the opera team are still stating that the neutrinos are travelling faster than light... Einstein was brlliant but not infallible. Humans make new discoveries all the time which will always supercede old theories...

  • David - 2011-11-22 09:44

    FTL already exists.......ask any Toyota Quantum taxi driver!

      Ray Siefe - 2011-11-23 05:16

      Eeish baas, no prob, I will get you there yesterday!!

      Ray Siefe - 2011-11-23 05:21

      Eeish baas, no prob, I will get you there yesterday!!

  • ludlowdj - 2011-11-22 10:01

    Sounds like they are simply not prepared to admit that science is itself a relative subject or that for all their years of study they really just don't know the answers

      Omnivore - 2011-11-22 10:37

      They may not know ALL the answers (if they did they wouldn't need to do such experiments) but one thing's for sure - they know more answers than you do.

      Mike - 2011-11-22 11:32

      @ludlowdj, I have NEVER heard a scientist claim they know all the answers or have all the facts but that is no reason that we should not keep striving to learn more. If humanity had adopted your attitude we would still be in the stone age.

  • Jaco - 2011-11-22 10:14

    looks like E = MC2 again

      TSR01 - 2011-11-22 12:55

      Unless the particle / matter has zero mass, in which case energy = matter without mass, though special quantum theory applies in this case, and I do lavish the notion at that stage whereby quantum tunneling could substantiate the possibility of time travel without paradoxes. I should like to postulate, however, that conventional science is limited by the means of testing for and acquiring evidence to refute certain facts, thus keeping the "blinkers" on those seeking to further science. ("you can try to prove a new theory, but you will need to invent a way to measure it, because we don't have one")

      NuttyZA - 2011-11-22 14:29

      timetravel without paradoxes happens with every passing nano second! Backwards timetravel without paradoxes tho... that's a bit like reading the forum posts on News24 and not finding any biggoted or racist comments... not possible!

  • str4f3 - 2011-11-22 12:06

    His argument appears invalid, His proof relies on the fact that energy must have been lost for the neutrinos to go FTL, but the energy/speed relation is based on the same basic mechanics, that show FTL to be impossible. Hence IF this is an example of FTL, classic mechanics do not apply, since it lies outside of thier predictable range. Invalidating his proof.

  • TSR01 - 2011-11-22 12:52

    Arrogant Italians! What about the MINOS experiment, which already detected particles consistent with Neutrinos? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light#MINOS_experiment Let's wait and see before you start declaring this and that. :)

  • Eugene - 2011-11-22 22:27

    Lol, what if you get anti-whatever particles that never goes below the speed of light, maybe the neutrino converts into this and back again as it hits the other end?

      Ray Siefe - 2011-11-23 05:10

      The amount of energy neede to convert a piece of matter into anti matter is enormous and would negate the findings!

  • Ray Siefe - 2011-11-23 05:05

    Particles generated and pushed at (#TEV#) 4 at least, show that it is not about the constant C, but that a quantum jump, hypothetically, can at least be considered, a brief shift into "second gear" would appear as faster than light

  • ludlowdj - 2011-11-23 09:54

    Of course the study rejects faster than light travel, in all honesty would you as a respected member of the scientific community want to admit that everything the world believes is based on a lie. Admitting to faster than light travel effectively destroys a 100 years of scientific belief and opens every other scientific "fact" to question.

  • Alfred - 2012-03-14 08:45

    I'M NOT A SCIENTIST. ALL I KNOW IS THAT LIGHT TRAVELS FASTER THAN SOUND. I DEMONSTRATED THIS TO MY SCHOOL KIDS AS FOLLOWS: I PRESSED THE LIGHT SWITCH VERY SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY. THE LIGHT WENT ON AND THEN I PRESSED THE SWITCH ALL OUT FOR THE KIDS TO HEAR THE CLICK. MY AIM ,OF COUSE, WAS TO ENABLE THE KIDS TO REMEMDER THE FACT FOREVER. ( I EXPLAINED TO THEM AFTERWARDS HOW DECEPTIVE MY EXPERIMENT WAS.) CHEERS

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