Feeds

Not so fast: Italian boffins say neutrinos not faster than light

Pistols at dawn at Hotel Gran Sasso?

Security for virtualized datacentres

A team of 68 scientists led by the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy claims to have refuted the OPERA faster-than-light neutrino result, even as the OPERA researchers are generating a new buzz by releasing their newer, more-finely-calibrated short-pulse tests that seem to confirm their original statement.

Over the weekend, the OPERA team announced that its new neutrino experiment, which used much shorter pulses to try and remove a potential systematic error from the set-up. To make sure that they could prove the time correlation between the received neutrinos and the originating event, the latest test used pulses three nanoseconds long, with more than 500 nanoseconds between pulses.

Although only independent verification would constitute a “proof”, the new experiment still claims that the neutrinos arrived 57.8 ns (±7.8ns) too early.

However, the Gran Sasso group isn’t so sure. In this Arxiv paper, the ICARUS collaboration says it has refuted the faster-than-light result, based on an analysis of 2010 data from the ICARUS experiment which uses the same neutrino beam from CERN as OPERA.

Their claim is that in getting to superluminal velocities, the neutrinos should lose energy by producing photons and electron/anti-electron pairs (“e+e- pairs”), in a process “analogous to Cherenkov radiation” (the “blue glow” in nuclear reactor water, so beloved of movie-makers).

“A very significant deformation of the neutrino energy spectrum and an abundant production of photons and e+e- pairs should be observed,” the ICARUS group says.

This hasn’t happened, they assert: “We find that the neutrino energy distribution of the ICARUS events … agrees with the expectations for an undisturbed spectrum of the CERN neutrino beam.

“Our results therefore refute a superluminal interpretation of the OPERA result,” the group writes.

In other words, and if the ICARUS calculations are correct: the neutrinos should have lost a lot of energy getting to superluminal speeds; their spectrum seems to demonstrate that they didn’t lose that energy, therefore they can’t be passing the speed of light.

If there’s a better grand show than watching gold-standard peer-review play out in public, The Register would have trouble nominating what it could be. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.