The neutrinos-faster-than-light OPERA experiment results that appeared poised to change the face of physics for ever may have been disproved. A faulty connection between the GPS receiver and a computer appears to have caused an error in the experiment.
Science Insider reports that the faster-than-light neutrino results may have been due to a bad connection between a fiber optic cable that connects to the GPS receiver used to correct the timing of the neutrinos's flight and an electronic card in the computer. According to Science Insider, after tightening the connection and then measuring the time it takes for data to travel the length of the fiber, researchers found that the data arrived 60 nanoseconds earlier than expected. This appears to explain the early arrival of the neutrinos in their flight from CERN laboratory in Geneva to San Grasso in Italy.
ABC News reports that James Gillies, spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) said on Wednesday that two separate issues were identified with the GPS system. The first could have caused the speed to be overestimated, the other could have caused it to be underestimated. Gillies said, "The bottom line is that we will not know until more measurements are done later this year." The ABC News report, however, did not specify what the "issues" were.
Director of CERN: Rolf-Dieter Heuer. On 19 July 2011, Heuer was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool.
Digital Journal reported that Dr. Bergio Bertolucci and his colleagues at the Gran Sasso laboratory had announced after experiments first conducted in September 2011, that neutrinos sent through the ground in the OPERA experiment were measured travelling faster than the speed of light.
The neutrinos appeared to make the trip from CERN laboratory in Geneva to Gran Sasso laboratory 732 kilometers away in Italy, a fraction of a second (60 nanoseconds) earlier than expected. Digital Journal reported that the result came as a shock to the scientific world because Albert Einstein's Special Relativity (SR) says nothing in the physical world can travel faster than the speed of light.
Bertolucci's team repeated the experiment in November incorporating improvements in experiment design suggested by critics, Digital Jornal reported. The result from the experiment rerun appeared to confirm the first and seemed to be pointing science in the direction of need for a revision of SR theory.
The result from the rerun experiment incorporating design improvements strengthened the confidence of the scientists about their experimental design but lingering doubts remained that the results was due to some other undetected source of error.
Photo by Image Editor
The LHC is a particle accelerator and collider located at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland
Digital Journal reported the doubts were strengthened by result obtained by another team of researchers in the ICARUS experiment who announced that results from their independent study contradicted the OPERA experiment results.
According to the ICARUS team, their experiment showed that neutrinos sent in pulses from CERN in Geneva would lose most of their energy if they travelled at a tiniest fraction faster than light. The ICARUS team said the neutrino pulses registered on their equipment an energy spectrum that corresponds with the particles travelling at exactly the speed of light. According to Tomasso Dorigo, one of the scientists in the ICARUS team, their finding was "very simple and definitive". He said: “...the difference between the speed of neutrinos and the speed of light cannot be as large as that seen by OPERA, and is certainly smaller than that by three orders of magnitude, and compatible with zero.”
Space.com reports that to confirm this hypothesis, the OPERA team will have to repeat their experiment with the fiber optic cable secured.