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Tiny Neutrinos May Have Broken Cosmic Speed Limit

ScienceRocks

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Tiny Neutrinos May Have Broken Cosmic Speed Limit
NY Times ^ | September 22, 2011 | DENNIS OVERBYE
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/science/23speed.html
Roll over, Einstein?

The physics world is abuzz with news that a group of European physicists plans to announce Friday that it has clocked a burst of subatomic particles known as neutrinos breaking the cosmic speed limit — the speed of light — that was set by Albert Einstein in 1905.

If true, it is a result that would change the world. But that “if” is enormous.

Even before the European physicists had presented their results — in a paper that appeared on the physics Web site arXiv.org on Thursday night and in a seminar at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, on Friday — a chorus of physicists had risen up on blogs and elsewhere arguing that it was way too soon to give up on Einstein and that there was probably some experimental error. Incredible claims require incredible evidence.

“These guys have done their level best, but before throwing Einstein on the bonfire, you would like to see an independent experiment,” said John Ellis, a CERN theorist who has published work on the speeds of the ghostly particles known as neutrinos.

According to scientists familiar with the paper, the neutrinos raced from a particle accelerator at CERN outside Geneva, where they were created, to a cavern underneath Gran Sasso in Italy, a distance of about 450 miles, about 60 nanoseconds faster than it would take a light beam. That amounts to a speed greater than light by about 0.0025 percent (2.5 parts in a hundred thousand).

Even this small deviation would open up the possibility of time travel and play havoc with longstanding notions of cause and effect. Einstein himself — the author of modern physics, whose theory of relativity established the speed of light as the ultimate limit — said that if you could send a...

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
 

Old Rocks

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Should this prove to be the case, rather than an instrumental error, it will definately rewrite the physics books. Then, of course, we have to explain why Relitivity works well in other areas. Newtonian physics, even though outdated by Relitivity and quantum mechanics, is still used for most applications. Wonder if Relitivity will fare as well if this finding turns out to be true.
 

Big Black Dog

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Somebody's wearing the aluminum foil hat today...
 

editec

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Speed is relative.

It is ALL a matter of perspective

Consider the possiblity that the nuetrinos are standing still and the rest of the cosmos is (relatively speaking, at least) moving faster than the speed of light.

That might explain why I often feel slightly car sick even when I am not in car, I suppose.
 

IanC

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overturning the Null Hypothesis of the universal speed limit would take a lot of evidence and time. it will certainly increase knowledge no matter what the final result is.
 
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ScienceRocks

ScienceRocks

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overturning the Null Hypothesis of the universal speed limit would take a lot of evidence and time. it will certainly increase knowledge no matter what the final result is.

With this finding the null hypothesis of the universal speed limit is now on less firm ground then the hypothesis of the green house effect. Yet, some argue that the green house effect hypothesis is all a lie.:eusa_whistle:
 
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LOki

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I pretty much always have know that the speed of light is broken.
 

CrusaderFrank

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Should this prove to be the case, rather than an instrumental error, it will definately rewrite the physics books. Then, of course, we have to explain why Relitivity works well in other areas. Newtonian physics, even though outdated by Relitivity and quantum mechanics, is still used for most applications. Wonder if Relitivity will fare as well if this finding turns out to be true.

Yeah, but AGW is still "settled science" right?
 

strollingbones

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i dont think one should think of this as Einstein being wrong but that as our understanding of the universe expands so do the discoveries.....but i still dont get the things that dont move but move faster than the speed of light...i am missing something
 

CrusaderFrank

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i keep reading but still dont get it.....

Einstein's work and most of our understanding of how the physical Universe functions stems from the "fact" that nothing physical can travel faster than the speed of light. If that's no longer valid than everything based upon it must also be called into question, except of course the fact that my SUV is melting the polar ice caps
 

Quantum Windbag

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Tiny Neutrinos May Have Broken Cosmic Speed Limit
NY Times ^ | September 22, 2011 | DENNIS OVERBYE
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/science/23speed.html
Roll over, Einstein?

The physics world is abuzz with news that a group of European physicists plans to announce Friday that it has clocked a burst of subatomic particles known as neutrinos breaking the cosmic speed limit — the speed of light — that was set by Albert Einstein in 1905.

If true, it is a result that would change the world. But that “if” is enormous.

Even before the European physicists had presented their results — in a paper that appeared on the physics Web site arXiv.org on Thursday night and in a seminar at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, on Friday — a chorus of physicists had risen up on blogs and elsewhere arguing that it was way too soon to give up on Einstein and that there was probably some experimental error. Incredible claims require incredible evidence.

“These guys have done their level best, but before throwing Einstein on the bonfire, you would like to see an independent experiment,” said John Ellis, a CERN theorist who has published work on the speeds of the ghostly particles known as neutrinos.

According to scientists familiar with the paper, the neutrinos raced from a particle accelerator at CERN outside Geneva, where they were created, to a cavern underneath Gran Sasso in Italy, a distance of about 450 miles, about 60 nanoseconds faster than it would take a light beam. That amounts to a speed greater than light by about 0.0025 percent (2.5 parts in a hundred thousand).

Even this small deviation would open up the possibility of time travel and play havoc with longstanding notions of cause and effect. Einstein himself — the author of modern physics, whose theory of relativity established the speed of light as the ultimate limit — said that if you could send a...

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...

This has zip to do with the environment.
 

waltky

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The neutrinos are fired deep under the Italian Apennines to the Gran Sasso lab...
:cool:
Faster-than-light neutrino experiment to be run again
28 October 2011 : Scientists who announced that sub-atomic particles might be able to travel faster than light are to rerun their experiment in a different way.
This will address criticisms and allow the physicists to shore up their analysis as much as possible before submitting it for publication. Dr Sergio Bertolucci said it was vital not to "fool around" given the staggering implications of the result. So they are doing all they can to rule out more pedestrian explanations. Physicists working on the Opera experiment announced the perplexing findings last month. Neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern (the home of the Large Hadron Collider) in Geneva toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away in Italy seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second earlier than light would have.

The speed of light is widely regarded as the Universe's ultimate velocity limit. Outlined first by James Clerk Maxwell and then by Albert Einstein in his theory of special relativity, much of modern physics relies on the idea that nothing can travel faster than light. For many, the most comforting explanation is that some repeated "systematic error" has so far eluded the experimenters. Since September, more than 80 scientific papers about the finding have been posted to the arXiv pre-print server. Most propose theoretical solutions for the observation; a few claim to find problems.

Dr Bertolucci, the director of research at Cern, told BBC News: "In the last few days we have started to send a different time structure of the beam to Gran Sasso. "This will allow Opera to repeat the measurement, removing some of the possible systematics." The neutrinos that emerge at Gran Sasso start off as a beam of proton particles at Cern. Through a series of complex interactions, neutrino particles are generated from this beam and stream through the Earth's crust to Italy.

BBC News - Faster-than-light neutrino experiment to be run again
 

waltky

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Neutrinos Travel Faster Than Light...Again...
:cool:
Neutrino experiment repeat at Cern finds same result
18 November 2011 - The team which found that neutrinos may travel faster than light has carried out an improved version of their experiment - and confirmed the result.
If confirmed by other experiments, the find could undermine one of the basic principles of modern physics. Critics of the first report in September had said that the long bunches of neutrinos (tiny particles) used could introduce an error into the test. The new work used much shorter bunches. It has been posted to the Arxiv repository and submitted to the Journal of High Energy Physics, but has not yet been reviewed by the scientific community. The experiments have been carried out by the Opera collaboration - short for Oscillation Project with Emulsion (T)racking Apparatus.

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, comprising 15,000 separate measurements spread out over three years, found that the neutrinos arrived 60 billionths of a second faster than light would have, travelling unimpeded over the same distance. The idea that nothing can exceed the speed of light in a vacuum forms a cornerstone in physics - first laid out by James Clerk Maxwell and later incorporated into Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity.

Timing is everything

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. When the Opera team ran the improved experiment 20 times, they found almost exactly the same result. "This is reinforcing the previous finding and ruling out some possible systematic errors which could have in principle been affecting it," said Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration. "We didn't think they were, and now we have the proof," he told BBC News. "This is reassuring that it's not the end of the story."

The first announcement of evidently faster-than-light neutrinos caused a stir worldwide; the Opera collaboration is very aware of its implications if eventually proved correct. The error in the length of the bunches, however, is just the largest among several potential sources of uncertainty in the measurement, which must all now be addressed in turn; these mostly centre on the precise departure and arrival times of the bunches. "So far no arguments have been put forward that rule out our effect," Dr Ereditato said. "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."

That confirmation may be much longer in coming, as only a few facilities worldwide have the detectors needed to catch the notoriously flighty neutrinos - which interact with matter so rarely as to have earned the nickname "ghost particles". Next year, teams working on two other experiments at Gran Sasso experiments - Borexino and Icarus - will begin independent cross-checks of Opera's results. The US Minos experiment and Japan's T2K experiment will also test the observations. It is likely to be several months before they report back.

BBC News - Neutrino experiment repeat at Cern finds same result
 

waltky

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Error found in faster than light experiment...
:eusa_eh:
Researchers find flaw in faster-than-light clocks
22 Feb.`12 – Researchers have found a flaw in the technical setup of an experiment that startled the science world last year by appearing to show particles traveling 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, spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, said Wednesday.

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 told The Associated Press.

The results of the experiment were received with great skepticism 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 454 miles (730 kilometers) away at Gran Sasso in Italy. Researchers found that the neutrinos appeared to arrive 60 nanoseconds sooner than if they had been traveling at light's speed of 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second). The experiment's margin of error allowed for just 10 nanoseconds. A nanosecond is one-billionth of a second.

Source
 
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Does it get a ticket?

What does happen when a particle breaks the limit?
 

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