Flutterby™! : Faster than a speeding photon

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Faster than a speeding photon

2011-09-22 20:51:12.795292+00 by Dan Lyke 9 comments

The OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) project at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) may have found neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light.

Of Particular Significance: Supernovas and Neutrinos is an interesting read on the topic, although I'm not sure he's up on his timing technologies (his commenters go into more detail).

The MeFi entry, including this cuteness from tykky:

Now is the time to tell your programmer friends that researchers at CERN have discovered something faster than C.

[ related topics: Nature and environment Software Engineering Current Events Monty Python ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-10-14 14:48:17.175215+00 by: Dan Lyke

m passed along Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Puzzle Claimed Solved by Special Relativity. Ronald van Elburg at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands says that the relativistic motion of the satellite clocks is responsible for the error.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-25 20:34:31.505826+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think to be fair to the CERN guys who a saying things like

“We are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result – because it is crazy”

We're at "WTF is going on?!".

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-24 23:07:29.234145+00 by: TheSHAD0W


We're at the "AMAZING RESULTS" point.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-23 20:40:29.75719+00 by: m

I am an old fart, but I have seen way too many of these physics breaking claims fail. So I agree with the xkcd comment.

As an aside, does anyone know if the Barrow and Shaw hypothesis of time/location dependency of certain cosmological constants has been resolved? I thought it had been disproved, but can't remember where I saw it, and I am certainly not competent to make any judgements from what I was able to google.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-23 17:53:50.507527+00 by: Dan Lyke

BBC News: Speed-of-light results under scrutiny at Cern(sic):

"My dream would be that another, independent experiment finds the same thing - then I would be relieved," Dr Ereditato told BBC News.

But for now, he explained, "we are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result - because it is crazy".

I think that attitude helps distinguish these results from, say, those of Pons and Fleischmann.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-23 14:32:01.945418+00 by: Dan Lyke

Andy Lester (@petdance)9/22/11 7:50 PM:

I bet that tomorrow someone at CERN will say "Aha! My cron job to sync to pool.ntp.org was commented out! That explains those 60ns!"

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-23 12:26:11.876296+00 by: TheSHAD0W


#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-23 02:04:40.946765+00 by: ebradway

It's these FTL neutrinos that make cold fusion possible!

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-22 22:17:27.210211+00 by: Dan Lyke

Bad Astronomy weighs in.

I note that everyone's harping on the need for accuracy in timing and location.

60ns isn't a huge number, but it's in a ballpark that people are used to measuring. It's on the order of something I could measure with the equipment currently in my office, assuming I got a number of system pieces correct (100MHz 'scope, I should be able to set up something to see an interference pattern at 6x that, no?). It'd take some smarts and experience and a few bits of knowledge that I don't have, although I may or may not be able to suss those things out in building that system, but if you think of it in terms of modern CPU clock speeds or WiFi frequencies it's a tenable number. They're claiming 10ns in their measurements, I can believe that.

And, yes, location is a bit deal too, but you're talking about aiming a beam over 732km. You probably have location mapped out pretty well. Using the right GPS and suitable dwell times you can easily get a good understanding of location to the sorts of accuracies they're talking about. Plait points out that "...so they need to know the distance between the source and the detector to an accuracy of 3 meters". The smartass in me says hell, you'd get about that just using basic SBAS, although that's not strictly true. On the other hand with reasonable dwell times (probably weeks) and good receivers, a few centimeters is a totally reasonable ballpark.

I don't pretend to understand the physics here, and I'm not pretending to make any grand claims about the validity of the experiment, but if this is a simple error involving timing and/or location, it's not that the numbers involved are very small, it's that there's some greater systemic issue in the measurement of those numbers.

Because those numbers just aren't that small. And that I can make a statement like that means the world is an amazing place, especially relative to the world I grew up in...