Fault found in faster-than-light result

2012-02-23 10:36

Geneva - Researchers have found a flaw in the technical setup of an experiment that startled the science world in 2011 by appearing to show particles travelling faster than light.

The problem may have affected measurements that clocked subatomic neutrino particles breaking what Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein considered the ultimate speed barrier.

Two separate issues were identified with the GPS system that was used to time the arrival of neutrinos at an underground lab in Italy, James Gillies, spokesperson for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, or Cern, said.

One could have caused the speed to be overestimated, the other could have caused it to be underestimated, he said.

"The bottom line is that we will not know until more measurements are done later this year," Gillies said.

The results of the experiment were received with great scepticism by scientists when they were published last September because they seemed to contradict Einstein's theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

That rule is fundamental to modern physics, and breaking it is seen as a step into the realms of science fiction where time travel and warp speed engines exist.

Even researchers involved in the experiment cautioned at the time that the measurements would need to be independently verified by other scientists before a genuine finding could be declared.

The experiment involved neutrinos being fired from Cern's site on the Swiss-French border to a vast underground laboratory 730km away at Gran Sasso in Italy.

Researchers found that the neutrinos appeared to arrive 60 nanoseconds sooner than if they had been travelling at light's speed of 299 792km per second.

The experiment's margin of error allowed for just 10 nanoseconds. A nanosecond is one-billionth of a second.

  • greenman23 - 2012-02-23 10:50

    What a very Good example of Very Bad science the LHC ans CERN have turned into. Despite spending how many billions was it now? They have failed to find the Higgs Boson and now we learn they cant make a simple electrical connection properly! As time progresses we saw more and more how incompetent they are and in truth and as identified in this article

      Godfrey - 2012-02-23 15:03

      Dumb comment. The fact that they have yet to discover new particles is in itself a scientific result. If they never find any, then that is a result and the physicists will have to do a rethink. The fact that science is self-correcting, in that all claims have to be independently and repeatedly validated, seems to irritate you. Why?

      arthurbrigg - 2012-02-28 09:26

      Greenman - sounds more like you're clueless.

  • gys.stroh - 2012-02-23 10:51

    So... We're never getting off this Rock ??!! Where the hell is E.T. when you need him!! ;)

  • Johan - 2012-02-23 11:02

    There is a Portugeus Scientist Joao Magueijo that proposed a theory of variable lighspeed that stil needs proof but his theory sounds plausable. I personally do not believe Eintein is correct in his theory that states that irrespect your speed, the relative velocity of light remains the same

      Dewald - 2012-02-23 11:18

      Johan - there is an interesting theory that I have been studying - The Wave Structure of Matter. Two books by Milo Wolff is recommended - 'Exploring the Physics of the Unknown Universe' and 'Schrodingers Universe' puts the theory in relatively simple terms.

      Johan - 2012-02-23 11:39

      Thanx Dewald if you are interested in theoretical physics a worthwhile read is: In Search Of Schrödinger's Cat by John Gibbon I shall certainly read those two books.

      Barry - 2012-02-23 12:56

      Well then, if your car was travelling at the speed of light.....would your headlights work ???

      Clive.D.Buckley - 2012-02-23 13:31

      Barry, no they wouldn't BUT your fog lights would. That is why you get so many dickheads in this country driving with them on when it clearly isn't foggy outside... they do it becuase they think that when they hit light speed, they are still going to be visible!!

  • timmy.ditsele - 2012-02-23 13:35

    here is another one,two spaceship are doing a dog fight in space and one decides to get away from the other,thereby going warp1(speed of light)then the second one also goes warp speed and in the process fires its canoon/missiles to the first one, will the shells/missiles ever leave the barrel of the gun/spaceship and hit the other one? When i was at university I asked this question and no one gave me the same answer,so please someone out there help me.

      Clive.D.Buckley - 2012-02-23 13:41

      The missiles would leave the barrel due to the relative additional thrust but then would immediatley be hit by the ship which fired them as the ship would be traveling faster than the missiles... this is why spaceships don't shoot traditional missiles but rather phasers and photon (light) torpedoes!!!! Have you never watched an episode of Star Trek man!!!!

      timmy.ditsele - 2012-02-23 14:14

      Yes i do watch those movies,NuttyZA,but think about it if the missiles leaves the barrel then they are travelling greater than warp1, the same with lasers.

      Clive.D.Buckley - 2012-02-23 14:31

      okay, my previous post was a bit tongue-in-cheek but the missiles would only be going at light speed whilst on the ship, as soon as they were launched, they would be under their own propulsion system, which unless this was greater than light speed (i.e. the speed of the ship), would cause the ship which launched them to hit them

      Clive.D.Buckley - 2012-02-23 15:50

      just had a thought... easy way to prove this really.. Whilst driving home tonight, launch (throw vigourously with your hand) a "missile" (coin or left over samie) out of your car window... try to throw it in front of your windscreen... then sit back and see what happens ;)

      mariuskowie - 2012-02-24 12:19

      @NuttyZA. Tried your experiment. Ran out of fuel before my car reached light speed. Those pesky traffic cameras are also much faster than anticipated.

      mariuskowie - 2012-02-24 12:24

      @NuttyZA. The experiment with the car did prove the theory of relativity. The wife's shouting increases proportionally, as the car's relative velocity increases towards the target velocity of light speed.

      khehle - 2012-03-17 14:44

      Gents your comments are killing me. For a change nice banter, no other emotive comments.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-23 13:35

    The results irrespective of the outcome are only valid to us here on earth. We do not know enough about space to say with any certainty that faster than light is not possible under certain conditions elsewhere in space.

      timmy.ditsele - 2012-02-23 14:19

      I stand to be corrected,but on distant quasars particles were observed to be travelling at 3x the speed of light.and just because we dont/cannot explain something doen't mean it impossible.aybe just maybe we can travel at the speed of light or travel at moer than the speed of light.

  • Anakin - 2012-02-23 17:02

    It is postulated that only gravity may exceed the speed of light, it is very difficult to prove the theory since the instruments themselves are not designed to detect 'effects' that propagate faster than light. And the 'effect of gravity' is not a particle, of any kind. It's just an 'effect'. Google 'speed of gravity''s quite an anomaly, similar to the "Heisenberg uncertainty principle" when trying to measure both the speed and position of sub-atomic particles at the same instant. And before blasting CERN and their associates consider then that they put out their results last year in a pdf document, when they also invited opinions from anyone about where a possible error could have been overlooked. I want to know if anyone here with negative comments about CERN did indeed contact them or their associates to point out such an error. When one has actually looked at the pdf report and UNDERSTAND one will immediately realise how EXTREMELY complex the experiment is in it's totality, and how many factors have to be taken into account, on timescales where the margin for error is 5-10nS. So, for those who want to comment here on how 'incompetent' CERN really is I quote from the ABSTRACT of that pdf document,downloaded on the 23-09-2011:

  • Anakin - 2012-02-23 17:06

    [from comment 1]..quote "Abstract- 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 highstatistics 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 ± 6.9 (stat.) ± 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 ± 0.28 (stat.) ± 0.30 (sys.)) ×10-5. 1. Introduction The OPERA neutrino experiment [1] at the underground Gran Sasso Laboratory (LNGS) was designed to perform the first detection of neutrino oscillations in direct appearance mode in the ?µ??t channel, the signature being the identification of the t- lepton created by its charged current (CC) interaction [2]." .... SO, CAN WE EXPECT ENLIGHTMENT HERE OR JUST MORE PRIMITIVE UTTERINGS ABOUT HOW "INCOMPETENT" CERN IS...??

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