I am not sure how I missed this when it was first posted, but it seems that experimentalists have found a probable explanation for those neutrinos that were clocked traveling faster than light. According to Science‘s website, a bad connection in a fiber-optic cable that carries GPS signals to the system’s master clock most likely made the particles appear as if they were traveling faster than they really were. There also seems to be a problem with a specific oscillator in the system, but it is not clear how big the problem is. Also, it is thought that correcting the oscillator’s problem might actually end up shortening the time measured, which would mean that the particles actually traveled faster than the original measurement indicated. As the web article makes clear, however, the main focus is on the fiber-optic cable connection.
We’ll know better in May, when a new experiment will be run. Hopefully, the fiber-optic cable’s connection, the oscillator problem, and anything else that is discovered between now and then will be fixed. However, based on what I have read, I think the most likely conclusion is that the neutrinos did not travel faster than light. Of course, as I said before, that was the most likely conclusion to begin with. When it comes to physics, don’t bet against Einstein. You aren’t likely to win!
7 thoughts on “Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos: Looks Like a Bad Cable Is To Blame”
Heisenberg bet against some of Einstein’s gut feelings about physics, like the whole “God doesn’t play dice” thing. I am not aware of any of Einstein’s actual theories against which Heisenberg bet.
Well, Quantum Physics does kind of stand against Einstein…
Besides, I don’t like the attitude that says you leave the work of a past master to stand as a monument to their Genius. That’s exactly how the “science” of the Dark ages worked, and the mistakes of centuries past were protected as Gospel. Then there was that sneaky little hope that such neutrinos might make my dream of owning a pet triceratops actually come true!
Even so, this is a very important fact, and a very important thing to remember. If you have an unexpected result, check!
Josiah, you are right that quantum mechanics and relativity are inconsistent with one another.
I don’t think you understood my comment. I wasn’t saying it’s impossible for Einstein to be wrong. I just said that you shouldn’t bet against him. In other words, it’s not likely that he was wrong. That’s a far cry from the science of the Dark ages, which said that someone like Aristotle couldn’t be wrong.
Well, my comment was slightly tongue in cheek. 🙂
I agree that the evidence behind Einstein’s theory does make it seem pretty solid, I merely assert that things shouldn’t be believed just because Einstein said them.
Oh well, not this time…
Eventually, GR may indeed be proven wrong, or at least, insufficient. I would suspect that time travel would not be possible anyways due to the macro-scale absurdities it would cause.
WSH, I agree that time travel is probably not possible.
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