Neutrinos outrace light?

That’s the claim that’s shaking the scientific world today. Here’s our take.

As reported in the Financial Times this morning:

Independent scientists are likely to be extremely sceptical of the claim of neutrinos moving at “super-luminal” speed, because other evidence does not support it. In particular, the neutrinos reaching Earth from supernovae or exploding stars in other galaxies arrive at precisely the moment expected if they were travelling at the speed of light.

So Antonio Ereditato and his Opera team will need to explain why his experimental neutrinos going from Switzerland to Italy are faster than those going from other galaxies to ours.

At this point our money is on the reality of intergalactic travel as opposed to an experimental European jaunt.

23 thoughts on “Neutrinos outrace light?”

  1. “As some scientists claim it must have been” – because they already know the answer?

    The people at CERN are not fools, and they know that this is an extraordinary claim. Do we really think that the problem is that they were “sloopy”?

  2. Paul,

    if the evaluation of the results is as sloppy as some scientists claim it must have been, how does this grab for the spotlight advance science?

  3. “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny….’” [Isaac Asimov]

  4. The logic is valid for the given situation. But, math abstracts reality: new observations will require new math and physics’ models. It would be extreme hubris to assume that our level of physics and math are the ultimate and only understanding to be had. I have a personal preference, but not an objective one. However, it would be awesome to see Einstein’s sacred cow butchered and a new spurt of advances. So, I will get the popcorn and watch the show.

  5. If they have discovered neutrinos that can go faster than light, does that mean that time travel (the physical kind) will be possible. I mean, it’s scary because someone can go back and change the past (i.e. Nazis winning WWII). Please tell if this would happen from this discovery.

  6. The neutrinos can never advance with superlight speed since any object existing can not travel faster the signals informing on its existing. The “signals of existance” bring the influence of the object to other objects. No influence is “revealed” – no object exists. That is base of existance. So, speed of “signals of existance” should be highest in the Universe.

  7. Still, it has to be approximately the same speed as light. Even a 1% variation in speed would lead to years or centuries of difference in arrival time, so much that we would be unable to link the neutrinos to the supernovae at all. And the nice thing about gravity is that it affects all things equally, so that eliminates huge numbers of variables between light and neutrinos. The error comes in when you try to approximate distance and time.

    Long story short, there may be a circumstance where neutrinos can go faster than light, but neutrinos from supernova must be going at near-exact light speed.

  8. Your first sentence sums up the basis of String theory – that all matter and energy (and reality itself for that matter) is made of the same stuff – called strings. The claims you make on your web site “there is no matter” really comes down to splitting hairs and then making mountains of molehills.

    Why don’t you do some research on string theory and then come back. I can’t really make heads or tails about what you are saying.

  9. There was some good math that made the speed of sound unbreakable in atmosphere (actually atmospheric conditions are a variable in calculating the speed for sound), so as soon as someone did it–voila! New math showing it could be done.
    The neutrino versus light from distant sources has to many variables and much speculation. Energy levels of emission, local gravitic effects: we can’t assume we understand all the physics. CERN has a controlled experiment, minimizing variables. And these are some seriously bright people. They are not going to jump to any conclusions they can’t validate.
    On a personal level I prefere the idea that speed of light barrier is not going to chain mainkind to our solar system. I’m a romantic: I would like to explore the galaxy.

  10. The claim is coming from a reputable source, not a bunch of hacks. Even they are highly skeptical, but if it proves to hold up, the world of physics just got a whole lot more interesting!

  11. I have a hypothesis (speculative) that all matter is pure energy. It “appears” to that energy “inside” the sub-atomic particle that it is travelling faster than light, in a straight line. The reason why it is mass and not another obvious form of energy is because once you cross the speed of light, space bends so dramatically you can seemingly travel in a straight line for eternity at that super-fast speed but still only be occupying space that is the “width” of that sub-atomic particle.

    Think of this as breaking the light speed barrier, a phase change. At the initiation of the Big Bang the energy was so intense that its “force” must have radiated out at a range of speeds, including those greater than the speed of light. All energy – not necessarily a single photon; could be a small bundle of energy – that was so thrust at speeds greater than light “converted” into matter (sub-atomic). The stuff that remained at speeds equal to that of light became heat and light.

    So far there seems to be no explanation of what’s “inside” matter. I know what I’m suggesting it very simplistic but I’m unable to intuitively imagine what IS matter. This hypothesis “explains” pretty well, although it has no maths or physics behind it.

    Some more thoughts (which I’ve put out over the past year) at: http://sabhlokcity.com/2011/09/yes-certain-forms-of-energy-almost-certainly-travel-faster-than-the-speed-of-light/

  12. Ah, but won’t it really be scientifically FUN if they turn out to be correct. I mean, E = ± (MC²), but only if the E is after C, in which case it is I before E…..

    Think of it! All the ‘Masters of the Universe’ (Hawkins, et al) will have to re-do all their work and maybe come up with something that makes more sense that the mysterious Big Bang for a Buck theory.

  13. The problem is that the neutrinos and light from the supernova are appearing here at the same time.
    If the 0.0025% difference shown in the CERN experiment was actually true, then the neutrinos from the supernova should have preceded the light by 4 years.

  14. This is the way science is supposed to be practiced. Publish your results and data. Take your lumps if you are wrong, but allow others to verify your work. No matter what the result of this is, science will be advanced.

  15. Just a thought, but perhaps in the many-many-yeared trip from supernova to earth, the interactions with many different gravity sources along the way, slow them down. The CERN particles traveled too short of a distance to be affected. Could we really notice a short initial burst of speed in them in a travel distance of thousands of light years? Would the extra speed last seconds, minutes, hours, days, years?

    Don’t take this as hard science, just thinking out loud. They need to do their homework and check, re-check and triple check everything before musings like ours even become relevant.

  16. I have no doubt neutrinos can travel super luminal if properly motivated. There is just so much pizza in Italy, and lotsa neutrinos that want to be first in line to dine. I’ve seen this on the nano cam. You should see their little feet move. Even in super slo mo, it’s just a blur.

  17. This might be an argument nothing is set in stone in physics or climate science. The physics we know today is far different from the time of Newton. Change is always taking place and undoubtedly will continue.

    Climate alarmists say their findings are absolute; and no further study is necessary, burning fossil fuels is increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide with consequences of catastrophic global warming. They further state those who disagree with their hypothesis have no right to state their objections because the science is settled. Deniers are heretics and should be punished for their thoughts.

    The power of climate alarmists is being chipped away and eventually they will be laughed at by history.
    James H. Rust

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