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Journal of No. 118

September 23rd, 2011

About the FTL neutrinos @ 12:05 pm


It's a peculiar result, but I doubt it's going to stick.

The neutrinos arrived 60 ns sooner than the speed of light allows, over a course about 2.4 ms long. The margin of error is 10 ns, but this is still measuring really fast things over comparatively short distances. A much better bound on the difference in speeds of neutrinos and light comes from Supernova 1987A. It's a little freaky, but neutrinos from the supernova were detected 3 hours before the light, but this is due to the fact that the neutrinos zip out of the core, while the light has to kinda force its way out. But even if they were simultaneous and the neutrinos really are faster, the difference there is 3 hours on a 168,000 year journey.

The CERN neutrinos are (?) about about a thousandth of a percent faster than light. At that same rate, we should have seen the neutrinos from SN 1987A a year before the light.

I have no idea what went wrong, but from the safety of my comfy theoretical armchair, I can pronounce that those lab jockeys mucked something up somewhere. Either that or it's Nobel time. But I wouldn't be buying any tickets to Oslo.
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Date:September 23rd, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I was wondering about this. I have one ear half-cocked to hear if this is like the cold fusion announcement, which was applauded and then faded away, as a story negating a "great discovery" isn't as front-page worthy as announcing one.

So after Fermilab performs their experiment, can you apprise us of the results?
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Date:September 23rd, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
The cold fusion announcement was a little different, since it was literally announced at a press conference, rather than in a paper published in a peer review journal. Here the paper is available and people are already picking through it.

I'll keep an eye on things, but negative results rarely make the news.

This whole thing reminds me of doing a particle experiment as an undergrad -- you had to rig the wiring so that two signals arrived at the same time. The speed of light moves about one foot per nanosecond, so we were literally measuring the lengths of wires to get things to work out right.

Journal of No. 118