And they are off again…It appears that neutrinos move faster than light still. The original team carried out an improved version of their experiment and they confirmed the result. Last September, critics of the first report said that there appeared to be errors in the test. This was because of the long bunches of neutrinos that were used originally. This new test used shorter bunches.
The scientific community has yet to review this latest set of findings, so it is unclear if this new subatomic particle speed record will stand.
The experiments were carried out by the Opera (Oscillation Project with Emulsion (T)racking Apparatus) collaboration. The BBC explained that “It hinges on sending bunches of neutrinos created at the Cern facility (actually produced as decays within a long bunch of protons produced at Cern) through 730km (454 miles) of rock to a giant detector at the INFN-Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy.”
The initial series of experiments comprised some 15,000 separate measurements that were spread out over three years and found that neutrinos arrived 60 billionths of a second faster than light. The thing is that both James Clerk Mxwell and Albert Einstein have shown that nothing should be able to exceed the speed of light in a vacuum.
The BBC reported that:
Initial analysis of the work by the wider scientific community argued that the relatively long-lasting bunches of neutrinos could introduce a significant error into the measurement.
Those bunches lasted 10 millionths of a second – 160 times longer than the discrepancy the team initially reported in the neutrinos’ travel time.
To address that, scientists at Cern adjusted the way in which the proton beams were produced, resulting in bunches just three billionths of a second long.
The new experiments run twenty times found almost the same result. Antonio Ereditato of the Opera Collaboration stated that “This is reinforcing the previous finding and ruling out some possible systematic errors which could have in principle been affecting it. “We didn’t think they were, and now we have the proof. This is reassuring that it’s not the end of the story.”
There are so many possible reasons for the errors that this just rules out one of them. Someone please give Heisenberg a call.
Dr. Ereditato stated that “So far no arguments have been put forward that rule out our effect. This additional test we made is confirming our original finding, but still we have to be very prudent, still we have to look forward to independent confirmation. But this is a positive result.”
It may take a very long time before there are any confirmations on this given that there are very few facilities in the world that can detect neutrinos.