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Faster Than The Speed Of Light… OPERA Update

Artistic view of the SPS/CNGS layout. The CNGS beam is produced by accelerating protons to 400 GeV/c with the CERN Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS). These protons are ejected with a kicker magnet towards a 2 m long graphite neutrino production target in two extractions, each lasting 10.5 ?s and separated by 50 ms. Each CNGS cycle in the SPS is 6 s long. Secondary charged mesons are focused by two magnetic horns, each followed by a helium bag to minimise the interaction probability of the 5 mesons. Mesons decay in flight into neutrinos in a 1000 m long vacuum tunnel.

A few days ago, the physics world was turned upside down at the announcement of “faster than the speed of light”. The mighty neutrino has struck again by breaking the cosmic speed limit and traveling at a velocity 20 parts per million above light speed. To absolutely verify this occurrence, collaboration is needed from different sources and we’re here to give you the latest update.

“This result comes as a complete surprise,” said OPERA spokesperson, Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern. “After many months of studies and cross checks we have not found any instrumental effect that could explain the result of the measurement. While OPERA researchers will continue their studies, we are also looking forward to independent measurements to fully assess the nature of this observation.”

Since the OPERA measurements go against everything we think we know, it’s more important than ever to verify its findings through independent research.

“When an experiment finds an apparently unbelievable result and can find no artifact of the measurement to account for it, it’s normal procedure to invite broader scrutiny, and this is exactly what the OPERA collaboration is doing, it’s good scientific practice,” said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci. “If this measurement is confirmed, it might change our view of physics, but we need to be sure that there are no other, more mundane, explanations. That will require independent measurements.”

To get the job done, the OPERA Collaboration joined forces with CERN metrology experts and other facilities to establish absolute calibrations. There cannot be any error margin in parameters between the source and detector distances – and the neutrino’s flight time. In this circumstance, the measurements of the initial source of the neutrino beam and OPERA has an uncertainty value of 20 cm over the 730 km. The neutrino flight time has an accuracy of less than 10 nanoseconds, and was confirmed through the use of highly regarded GPS equipment and an atomic clock. Every care was given to ensure precision.

“We have established synchronization between CERN and Gran Sasso that gives us nanosecond accuracy, and we’ve measured the distance between the two sites to 20 centimetres,” said Dario Autiero, the CNRS researcher who will give this afternoon’s seminar. “Although our measurements have low systematic uncertainty and high statistical accuracy, and we place great confidence in our results, we’re looking forward to comparing them with those from other experiments.”

“The potential impact on science is too large to draw immediate conclusions or attempt physics interpretations. My first reaction is that the neutrino is still surprising us with its mysteries.” said Ereditato. “Today’s seminar is intended to invite scrutiny from the broader particle physics community.”

Original Story Source: CERN Press Release. For Further Reading: Measurement of the neutrino velocity with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam.

Read our previous article on this paper.


Tammy is a professional astronomy author, President Emeritus of Warren Rupp Observatory and retired Astronomical League Executive Secretary. She’s received a vast number of astronomy achievement and observing awards, including the Great Lakes Astronomy Achievement Award, RG Wright Service Award and the first woman astronomer to achieve Comet Hunter's Gold Status.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous September 27, 2011, 4:10 AM

    I hope they can confirm that. I believe that the current speed of light was not set in stone at the beginning and that would explain a lot of things. I have always felt that the “inflation” concept was a big bang band aid for something they couldn’t explain and was wrong. Why should we assume that light has never exceeded 186K MPS. That would not mean Einstein’s Theory is wrong. It would simply open up the world of Physics like never before.
    THAT is cool!

  • Anonymous September 27, 2011, 8:39 PM

    Hiya’ , … somebody mentioned ‘ arguing with their science teacher ‘ , … ergo, …
    The theory of the speed-of-light impassible barrier was shattered by my grade 6 general studies teacher when ‘ I ‘ was all of eleven years old, … he simply told a hard physical science ‘ joke ‘ not just to me, … but to the entire classroom.
    Simple enough, … forget such factors like getting up to 5 mph less than light speed.
    Kick somebody hard enough in the ‘ *** ‘ to impart 10 mph acceleration, … they are then going 5 mph faster than the speed-of-light.
    To me, … that was just hypothetically substantiable hard physical science.
    It gave me a laugh, … plus decades of re-considerations to consider.
    No ‘ biggee ‘ , … as ‘ I ‘ said, … two thumbs up to the team who appear to have hard physical science accomplished it, … at least at the sub-atomic level.

  • Mrezatirgan October 4, 2011, 9:37 AM

    Based on H particle-paths hypothesis, “Site H-particles paths .com”, “Looks like Einstein may have been wrong — An international team of scientists at CERN has recorded neutrino particles traveling faster than the speed of light”. “measurements over three years showed the neutrinos moving 60 nanoseconds quicker than light over a distance of 730 km between Geneva and Gran Sasso, Italy”. “If confirmed, the discovery would overturn a key part of Albert Einstein’s 1905 theory of special relativity, which says that nothing in the universe can travel faster than light” io9.com/…/scientific-breakthrough-physicists-at-cern-have-recorded. According to HPPH, a particle, e.g. photon, moving in spatial medium, Sec. 7(4)3, part A, has irreversible path-length, Sec. 2(4)4, of expanding characteristic of SNr configuration and time’s arrow; while, a particle moving in mass medium, Sec. 7(4)3, part D, (of the site), has irreversible path-length of contracting mode of SPl configuration at opposite sign to the former and time arrow reversal. Therefore, neutrino contrary to photon that reflects by the mirror surface can penetrate in mass medium. Thus, its total time travel just during the measurement is reduced respect to that of photon in this regards; please refer also to Sec. 5(16)11, and Sec. 5(15)2b. Factually, just at the moment of neutrino detection (or striking) by detector, according to Note 5(16)7, g2, contractons (as signal) is emitted spontaneously in backward path of neutrino emission towards the source, Fig. 5(10), i.e. completeness of measurement. In other words, the neutrino path is composed of two paths in vacuum and mass media as stated above with two different characteristics path-lengths of opposite sign. As a result, the neutrino like other particles moves equal or than less than light speed in free vacuum. “The findings may need many runs and checks to be confirmed. Once confirmed, it raises many questions, including why such an effect wasn’t noticed before. The big question would be this: What happens to Special Relativity, which is an extremely reliable theory?” techie-buzz.com › Science ; please refer also to Sec. 2(6)2a.