Experts re-examine 'faster-than-light' result

2011-10-28 21:56

Paris - Scientists who threw down the gauntlet to physics by reporting particles that broke the universe's speed limit said on Friday they were revisiting their contested experiment.

"The new test began two or three days ago," said Stavros Kasavenas, deputy head of France's National Institute for Nuclear Physics and Particle Physics, also called the IN2P3.

"The criticism is that the results we had were a statistical quirk. The test should help [us] address this," he said.

On September 23, the team stunned particle physicists by saying they had measured neutrinos that travelled around 6km/s faster than the velocity of light, determined by Einstein to be the highest speed possible.

The neutrinos had been measured along a 732km trajectory between the European Centre for Nuclear Research (Cern) in Switzerland and a laboratory in Italy.


Through a complex transformation, a few of the protons arrive at their destination as neutrinos, travelling through Earth's crust.

The scientists at Cern and the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy scrutinised the results of the so-called Opera experiment for nearly six months before making the announcement.

They admitted they were flummoxed and put out the begging bowl for an explanation. The results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Since then, an open-access online physics review, Arxiv, has had scores of papers submitted to it.

Some point to perceived technical glitches, noting that only a minute flaw in measurement would have had the neutrinos busting the speed of light.

Kasavenas said Cern was making available a special form of proton beam until November 6.

The idea is to assess a modified measurement technique.

If this works, the technique will be used in a bigger, "highly important" experiment that will be carried out in April, he said.

"The idea with the new beam is to have protons that are generated in packets lasting one or two nanoseconds with a gap between each packet of 500 nanoseconds," he said.

"We will be able to measure the neutrinos one by one, but to do this we need a beam that is a hundred times less intense than the previous one."

  • Bill - 2011-10-29 01:00

    if einstein was right then any object with mass slows time as it gets it would seem to travel faster than so called lightspeed when in fact it never exceeds it,it just travels in a shorter time

  • Zion - 2011-10-29 11:05

    The article gives an unexplained variation of 6000m/sec. ie 6km/sec. That is 0,002% too fast. Looking at the whole picture it becomes obvious that there may be a fault in the measuring of the s.o.l. In reality 6km/sec is one hellova speed difference.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-10-31 09:55

    Man is and has always been picky in what he accepts, we accept Einsteins theory on the speed of light etc, but rebuke his theory on pole shift. Man needs to learn he don't know squat about anything. All of our knowledge is based on our own point of reference and assumes that everything is exactly the same everywhere. two assumption we already know are false.

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