Last week's bombshell physics news--those superluminal neutrinos that CERN's OPERA experiment clocked moving faster than the speed of light--are already getting the rigorous vetting that OPERA's researchers were hoping for. And some physicists are already rejecting the notion that CERN's neutrinos broke the cosmic speed limit outright. A paper posted late last week, titled "New Constraints on Neutrino Velocities," argues that any particle traveling faster than light would shed a great deal of their energy along the way.
And since that didn't happen, those neutrinos couldn't have traveled faster than light. Case closed.
So let's go a little deeper here. The physicists behind this assessment, Andrew Cohen and Sheldon Glashow of Boston University (Glashow has a Nobel under his belt, so these are no middling minds), ignore the debate over whether or not it's possible for a fundamental particle to outpace the speed of light, and instead look directly at the OPERA neutrinos themselves.
In looking at the neutrino beams that landed at Italy's Gran Sasso laboratory, Cohen and Glashow found that it was about the same as the beam emitted from CERN in Switzerland. That is, the neutrinos were of roughly the same high-energy flavor at their origin and at their destination.
But that's not possible if these neutrinos surpassed the speed of light, they say. A neutrino achieving superluminal speeds would emit other lower energy particles--most likely an electron-positron pair-- along the way, and in doing so lose a good deal of its own energy. So the neutrino beam arriving at Gran Sasso should have been "significantly depleted" of high-energy neutrinos.
But this was not the case. Which means, they say, that in all likelihood these neutrinos never achieved superluminal speeds. The anomaly is an error in the data or measurement of the speed, or some other brand of misunderstanding or miscalculation.
Which makes a certain amount of sense, writes Steve Nerlich over at Universe Today over the weekend. Neutrinos do move very fast, straight through the Earth (neutrinos don't interact much with normal matter), relying on GPS time-stamping and other methods of man-made measurement that are very precise but certainly not infallible to determine time and distance traveled.
And it's not like these neutrinos were clocked doubling the speed of light or something like that--the difference is 60 nanoseconds. That's another way of saying that the neutrinos in question are thought to have traveled at 1.0025 times the speed of light. That's certainly a small enough margin to be explained away by some kind of measurement error.
Still, the jury remains out on this one, and we certainly don't want to dismiss a perfectly good game-changing science story just because it seems hard to reconcile with the status quo. After all, if OPERA's result turns out to be confirmed it is going to completely reorient physics as we know them. More on this as it develops.
What we need is a more distant experiment of neutrino speed timing. We need to put neutrino beam on the moon and blast neutrinos’ back to earth and time this. It does give us another reason to go back to the moon, eh.
While it is far more likely that the experiment was flawed, this just makes the result all the more interesting if it isn't
When I saw the article about the faster than light neutrinos I was like "Man.. I knew light was slow!". But when I showed it to a friend of mine he was like "Yeah well you know that when you travel with speeds close to the speed of light time almost stops for you. So basicly these neutrinos just travelled a few nanoseconds in the future.. they didn't really travel faster than light."
So my question is basicly.. didn't anyone in the physics world think of that? And if they did why didn't we hear that as a possible theory for those unlikely results?
Well, this is intriguing. However, the result contradicts the observation of supernova 1978A by the laboratory of Masatoshi Koshiba at the University of Tokyo where neutrinos were detected a few hours before visible light were detected. Distance of SN 1987A from earth is about 168,000 light years. Then neutrinos should have arrived years before lights arrive. Note that the neutrino speed 1.0025 speed of light in the above article is incorrect. A careful caculation reveals that thr different from CERN result is much smaller.
I'd have to say that's a very excellent observation. Even a fraction over the speed limit smaller than 1.0025 would denote a temporal distortion that would allow the neutrinos' presence to register before they actually arrived at their destination.
Of course I knew that someone would eventually come up and throw up the "Impossible!" statement. While our technology is fallible it is not unreliable. So barring the explainations surrounding measurement errors, one of two things happened: the superluminal traversal of elementary particles, or the multi-dimensional traversal of elementary particles between realspace and subspace/hyperspace. The latter gives ground to the string theories such as M-Theory. The former breaks down a fundamental constant in the Grand Unified Theory of particle physics.
"The person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew, the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago everybody knew, the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago you knew we were alone in this universe. Imagine what you know, tomorrow."
-- Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, Men In Black, 1997
They are talking about the detection of particles as opposed to observing light. However, if they were observing light, I'm sure their implication is that they were observing the presence of the particles before light reached the other end.
Then again you have to consider the light from a supernova 168,000 lightyears away to two laboartories separated by over 500 miles. The shorter the distance, the observation will still appear to be simultaneous. Of course with instruments measuring the readouts, this is how they came to this conclusion.
"The person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew, the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago everybody knew, the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago you knew we were alone in this universe. Imagine what you know tomorrow."
-- Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, Men In Black, 1997
Listening to you people talk about this is painful.
Its like dragging a nail across a chalk board.
Lets put it this way. If you don't understand the math, you don't understand jack.
(and stop asking stupid questions like "did the scientists take this into account)
What you say:
"So my question is basicly.. didn't anyone in the physics world think of that? And if they did why didn't we hear that as a possible theory for those unlikely results?"
What I hear:
"I have such a juvenile understanding of physics that I think my coffee talk is a substitute for math"
CERN’s OPERA experiment clocked moving faster than the speed of light, neutrinos.
After this gets debated thoroughly and if later it’s found out that the manner of how Cerns times\clocks things are off.
Were other experiments and conclusions dependent upon knowing the true nature of the speed of light and having the ability to clock objects accurately relative to other conclusions Cern has made? Would this put other doubts on other conclusions Cern's has made in the past?
"A paper posted late last week, titled “New Constraints on Neutrino Velocities,” argues that any particle traveling faster than light would shed a great deal of their energy along the way.
And since that didn’t happen, those neutrinos couldn’t have traveled faster than light. Case closed."
Um, if your model tells you that nothing CAN travel faster than the speed of light, how can you conclusively tell what would happen if something DID?
Maybe this is a good opportunity to rethink some of the flawed assumptions instead of immediately dismissing the results as an error.
Those are my thoughts exactly. In my mind, this argument is equivalent to saying "nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, so there's no way neutrinos could have."
If the potential implications of the measurements are that our current model is wrong, how can we apply the theory in this way? Surely we need to think a little more outside the box than this.
My understanding of maths and physics is a bit more than you seem to think and because of that I want to know why is the most obvious and logical answer not given by "the big brains".
And please don't reply my comment and keep your opinion for yourself. I don't want to spam popsci..
@staticbg No. Your comment proved my point exactly.
To put it bluntly... YEAH DUH.
First of all, you have butchered the scientific principle.
Secondly, the machinery and detectors take into account things like relativistic mass at a very fundamental level. They are designed around the concepts you managed to butcher. Invariant mass, relativistic mass, lorentz factor...
How do you think they are detecting these particles? You think somebody has a flare gun and a stop watch?
They aren't stated like this though: ""Yeah well you know that when you travel with speeds close to the speed of light time almost stops for you. So basicly these neutrinos just travelled a few nanoseconds in the future.. they didn't really travel faster than light." "
They put it in mathematical terms and it gets incorporated into the detectors and formulas they use for analysis.
Again. What you are working with is not even "basic" information.
For starters.... go to wikipedia and look up the term "relativistic mass"
again. nails, chalkboard.
why is it so irritating?
an uninformed population tends to oppose scientific progress.
for years scientists working at RHIC had to fend off the media and celebrities 'worried' and 'concerned' that their experiments would somehow generate a black hole to envelop the earth.
a little knowledge is a dangerous thing (to scientific research).
Some black holes in the real world are also called money pits, hmm! Working people have real working everyday problems and they want their taxes spent wisely.
Although this is an interesting report on this topic, I do feel that any such claims cannot possibly have come so quick. Understandbly these claims are based upon the known world of physics, however what it doesn't take into effect is the unknown such as this topic. There are certain ways to prove or disprove something that could in fact alter everyones knowledge of a subject. The more tedious and time consuming but most likely the more accurate way is repitition. This is something that is just plainly going to have to be repeated over and over and over again average the outcomes and then determine the solution. Sure there are mistakes in calculations thats why repitition is sometimes needed especially in a case where you can't always try to fit it into the known model and expect it to be solved.
Unfortunately what I am seeing of these 2 physiscts who have claimed that this isn't possible is they took their own known knowledge and applied it and determined that because it cannot fit into their teachings that it cannot happen. Have to be open to the possibily of change or the greater understanding of our Laws of Physics. Just because the laws have been set almost a century ago doesn't mean they are infalliable. In the events of human history Discovery, Breakthrough, or Greater Understandings of our world and that of everything consisting of and existing outside this world there has always been a constant, change is inevitable and it happens more frequently on the timeline than many seem to think. Human civilization is in fact overdue for the next scientific breakthrough. Many times through history has this same thing happened, a Discovery, those that say well it doesn't fit into our Modern Science and cannot be proven on our instruments thus it cannot be possible. But time and time again those that said nay without putting forth the hardship of experimentation and openness to change have eaten their own words.
Understandably the measurements could have been off or interpreted wrong, however that would be determined with the further study into this topic. But overall this is far too early to determine any such outcome. Sometimes solving the most complicated issues and puzzles comes from the most simplest of methods.
Not everyone has the time or wants to figure out all the mathematical jargon necessary to understand the "scientific language." Please stay on topic.
I, "a juvenile in science," *think* that perhaps the planet moving; earth quakes and tectonic displacement; numerous undiscovered physics principles; and any number of mathematical errors accounted for the displacement. I still think it would be interesting for the theory of relativity to be the speed of neutrinos and not the speed of light.
I believe there are gonna be a lot of number crunchers tallying up the data on this for a long time to come and I also believe this is a prime example to start thinking outside of the box, due to the thought of relativity and the speed limit of light.
Science Is A Continual Lesson of The Challenge To Studying The Entire Known Existence of Everything.
laws were meant to be broken
Follow my previous post, I did some calculation with the following parameters:
l=732km, c=299792.458km/s, neutrinos are faster by 60 nanoseconds= 0.00000006s. I've calculated that neurinos speed is 299799.825km/s. Speed difference is 7.367km/s or about 1.0000246% faster. So for a supernova 168,000 light years away, neurinos should arrive about 4 years earlier than light.
Lets say "A paper posted late last week, titled “New Constraints on Neutrino Velocities,” argues that any particle traveling faster than light would shed a great deal of their energy along the way.
And since that didn’t happen, those neutrinos couldn’t have traveled faster than light. Case closed." wouldnt there be some sort of distance the neutrino has to go before it would lose that much energy, say once the collision occurs the neutrinos speed out at double the speed of light but then almost immediately lose 99.9% of that energy, leaving .01% giving the extra boost.
I guess you could also say too that the neutrinos got a gravity boost from the core of the planet.
judderwocky I agree I hate listening to nerds discuss things. They always sound like robots who cant think for themselves. Instead they constantly parrot facts theyve read about in the past. "Oh there is probably a mistake in the experiment because nothing can go faster than light, I KNOW, Ive read a few pages on einsteins relativity theories(but didnt read the mathematics or studied quantum mathematics)"
and just to save themselves they add the safe comment "...oh yeah but if it is correct then this is a great story!...or it would change physics as we know it!"
Face it. A lot of you are nerds and parrots and always follow the crowd and think that just because a new idea dosnt fit into your shallow robotic minds that it isnt right.
I myself trust scientists who actually do the math. Even if their theories are wrong at least theyve spent years doing it and not making some self indulgent non mathematical remark like Ive seen most parrots do.
@judderwocky...i too have commented negatively towards the ideas some commenters put forth on here, the most common response is "anything is possible" which is blatantly false...what is true is this: it is 100% probable that these researchers have thought of all our concerns regarding "did they think of everything", it's guaranteed they thought of all and much more than we can come up with...i believe it will be shown that the "speed of light" speed limit will remain and our understanding of neutrinoes will become much better as a result of this, yes, i know the earth was once flat but that doesn't mean everything is wrong and will be corrected one day, and again, and again...cheers
To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires a creative imagination and marks the real advances in science.
Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.
— Albert Einstein
@judderwocky - I cant help but agree in some respect that it can be frustrating to read folks with little knowledge (or a vast self-percieved knowledge) go on about a subject, especially one in which you are personally knowledgable (making an assumption there...)...
Having said that, being unapproachably abrasive to folks who may not have a classicaly taught or mathematical understanding of a topic is no way to promote understanding in science. Its hard enough to get kids to put down the playstation or turn off american idol and even give a passing glance to the sciences, let alone forcing them to deal with the self-important learned scientist rubbing in thier face how much they dont know.
I participate in STEM outreach, and to be perfectly frank, the scientific product out of most of the kids I see is laughable at best. It's an honest attempt, though, and in a broader context it is a huge leap in the right direction. You start ridiculing these kids for not adhering to your own professional standards for science, then they will stop making steps toward that level of understanding. That is, among a few others, the fastest road to killing the sciences.
If they dont understand, help them to understand. Do not berate them. If they dont want to understand, then move on to the next person.
And if you cant look at it from a more ideological perspective and require some math for legitimacy...
the sciences operate on money just like any other profession, and in most of our cases, it comes in large part from the people. I defy you to convince the layman of the worth of billions of dollars worth of equipment to build what amounts to them (nevermind what it means to you) a hypothetical physics experiment that wont provide any tangible benefit to them (again, thier POV).
If the minimum requirement to be interested and speak about a scientific topic on the individual level is a complete mathematical understanding of the sciences, then we will see a more and more isolated scientific community, and less and less money.
Why not a good old fashion drag race?
Put light on the line and Neutrinos or whatever on the line turn the light green and GO whoever gets there first is clearly the winner!! Put em pinks!! can't deny those findings!
I believe that since at least one postulate used to create Einsteins Theory of Special Relativity is not true there is some room for debate here. The Lorentz Transformation was used to postulate nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. It is nothing more than math to describe an optical illusion. No frame in spacetime can be fixed. And if this is all based off of that and relativistic mass then I think everyone should have an open mind and not just beat their chests over how smart they are. Relativistic Velocity should be considered as an alternative.
Thank you iambronco, very well stated. It's the enthusiasm of the responses that makes the difference as to whether the scientific exploits of people continue in positive directions.
As for the article, I am going to disagree with the two scientists only because they are only using one model to disprove and not hard scientific evidence of the speed itself. This is not the only time that nutrinos have been clocked above the speed of light (although the first statistically significant one). This is something we will have to re-test elsewhere and look at data as it comes in.
Neutrinos are the slippery fast race horse and poor protons are the persistent slow mule, eh. I remember the good old days when it was great to be as fast as lightning. How times have changed, how times have changed. ;)
I agree with the whole "measure over a longer distance so the difference is larger than the margin of error" bit. Seems like the most straight forward path to take. Reams of data from 1 setup is a good jumping point. I'll get excited when they recreate it elsewhere.
and lol@ stopwatch and flare gun