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CERN | Geneva | Switzerland

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Elementary, my dear neutrino…

Sometimes discoveries in science turn up where you are looking for them, like finding treasure near a shipwreck. At other times they seem to appear from nowhere, as if they’ve fallen from the sky. In particle physics there are plenty of examples of both kinds, but all discoveries have one thing in common. As soon you find something new – whether it’s expected or completely out of the blue – you go back through the analysis with a fine tooth comb, making sure that you’ve missed nothing. Is there a detail you’ve forgotten? Have you overlooked some aspect that could mimic the effect of something new?

It’s at this stage that you make your results known to the jury of your peers – other scientists working in the same area who look at what you’ve done and see if they can find anything you might have missed. Then, to quote one of the famous fictional detectives, Sherlock Holmes, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.

This is particularly the case when a result is completely unexpected. In a sense, it’s all down to detective work, and the experimenters must make sure that they are interpreting all the evidence correctly before identifying the suspect.

The curious case of the speeding neutrinos – apparently breaking nature’s speed limit of the velocity of light as they fly from CERN to the OPERA experiment in central Italy – is now open to the jury. The OPERA collaboration has been able to find no explanation in terms of the experimental set up for this effect. So the researchers have revealed what they observe to their peers through a paper posted on arXiv.org that explains all the steps from data collection to the final analysis, and through a talk at CERN. Neutrino experiments are notoriously difficult because neutrino interactions are so rare, but over the coming months – and indeed years – the teams working on similar experiments elsewhere will scrutinise their data to see if they see the same effect.

This is the way that science works all the time, not just when a surprise effect appears like an unexpected guest at a party. Results are checked by others, questions can be asked – and answered – and when everyone is satisfied that nothing has been overlooked, then the results are published. Of course, wrong results do get published and surprising effects can fade away as further experiments fail to find fresh evidence. Again, this is all part of the scientific process; far from being a straight line like a Roman road linking major discoveries, it wanders more like river that changes direction in response to the landscape it crosses,

So the OPERA results are now coming under close scrutiny in the particle physics community, and it will be fascinating to see whether they do eventually stand the test of time. Then, and only then, if the results remain, fulfilling Sherlock Holmes’s requirement, would super-fast neutrinos become established, not as science fiction, but as science fact. For now, however, we have to wait and see.

Christine Sutton

  • T. Kato

    The earth rotates.

  • Pingback: OPERA neutrino experiment on breaking speed of light — UPDATE #2: CERN seeks independent replication | KurzweilAI()

  • One thing to say; remember Phlogiston

  • I did not read the preprint on ArXiv but this result is not surprising to me: photons follow the curvature of space (due to the presence of massive objects) while neutrinos do not (they go through the earth without any interaction). The notion of speed depends on the notion of time…see some reflexions and publications on this notion on my website http://tran.nathalie.free.fr in hobby and publications.

  • Jørgen Indal

    Well put, it will be very exciting to see the outcome of different peer reviews and similar experiments. Thrilling times ahead!

  • Pingback: Überlichtschnelle Neutrinos | physikBlog()

  • Ljiljana

    Wonderfull news , new begining in science for the mankind! 🙂

  • George Djorgovski

    The claim here is that the neutrinos move faster than light by about 2.5e-5. If this were true, then the neutrinos from the Supernova 1987A (~ 168,000 ly away) should have arrived about 4 years prior to the optical detection. Instead, light was observed only a few hours following the neutrino detections (and that is an upper limit, and some delay is expected anyway, just from our understanding of SNe). So, that simple observation implies a limit of ~ 3e-9 for dc/c.

  • Bent Rothenberg

    thinking is the fastest way of travelling, even much faster than light.
    Well e=m*c² where the speed of light is allready in square why not in n!

  • Gareth Collier

    Is it possible that the Speed of Light itself, needs to be checked? Maybe its incorrect? Just a thought!

  • all that depends on how neutrinos and photons interact with the curvature of space….

  • Daniel Vivern

    What about the MSW effect? Could it affect the speed of the neutrinos when travelling across dense matter? And what about a minimal but perhaps decisive effect of Earth’s gravity on neutrino mass (5,5 eV/c^2)? Tiny, but still a mass…

  • Marcel van Velzen

    On the neutrino speed: the faster than light neutrino speed is equivalent to saying that we cannot move the proton PDF of figure 11 of the original article by 0.2 mm, which in nonsense.

  • David Guidos

    Exciting news! I think the neutrinos are just so proud to be involved in an experiment at CERN that they’re hyperventilating a little…

  • Namara Verdi

    Just a thought. Scientists have obeserved and experimented with teleportation. In which particle seemed to travel faster than light when infact it got teleported or some sort of quantum tunneling. Maybe nutrinos sometimes quantum tunnel through solid object and thus makimg it appear to travel faster than light.

  • Chezuz Gonzales

    Nice one and true George.

    It only can be a systematic error.

    And Nathalie: neutrinos and Photons do not interact with the curvature of space. They create curvature of space-time, depending on their energy or/and momentum.

  • like light in a refractive medium? well, are not the oscillations of the neutrinos (MSW effect) the duality wave-particle???

  • hi Gonzales! our universe is curved, if the photons and the neutrinos would not follow the curvature of space the would leave it….!!!!!and photons are (light is) deviated by large massive objects, this has been proved

  • Christophe

    I just made the same calcul as Mr.George Djorgovski : with a difference of ~2 10^^-5 ( 6 km/s over 300’000 km/s)I get 3.4 years, what trully is a huge difference ! It is clear that the ten or so detected neutrinos of the SN1987A arrived together with the photons, what implyed that their masses are nil or very very near zero, what one today well knows. If they would had arrived “before” the photons, that logically implied that their masses were imaginary !

    But the correct explanation of this actual difference of ~2.5 10^^-5 (7.5 km/s over 300’000 km/s)probably is due to the straight trajectory of the neutrinos in comparison of the curved trajectory of the photons due to the Earth’s mass, as Nathalie Olivi-Tran correctly suggests. That means that the path of the neutrinos (flying with the velocity c)was shorter of the measured 730 km by only ~15 to 18 m !

  • Martin

    There is not necessarily a contradiction here: From SNIa, electron neutrinos were detected, but OPERA measured muon neutrinos.

  • thanks for support!

  • Enrico

    Neutrinos follow the curvature too… but there’s no great curvature due to the little mass of the planet

  • Enrico

    the light go at speed of light when there’s curvature and when there’s not curvature! …and CNGS Neutrinos exceed speed of light (and there’s not photons in this experiment)

  • did someone ever measure the speed of light outside the solar system (the curvature due to the sun is larger than the curvature due to the earth) and light is more sensitive to the curvature due to stellar objects (or planets) than neutrinos? one would have to measure the real speed of light outside the galaxy (presently impossible of course!) in ‘real’ vacuum (only the curvature of universe without perturbation)!

  • Matteo Vitturi

    I think you misunderstood the experiment.
    As far I know, no race has taken place between photon and neutrino, so there is no earth’s curvature to matter with.
    The claims is just that neutrino has arrived early than expected using TWO synchronized clocks
    If we exclude that neutrino runs faster than light would, then the difference in time can be explained in just few ways: either the distance between the two sites wasn’t accurate or the two clocks, once syncronized at one site, after the travel of one of them to the other site, they are no more synchronized.
    Perhaps, to be certain that the travel gives no bias to the clock, you should travel back to the first site and measure the difference due to the round trip travel.
    _ M.

  • Marcel van Velzen

    Bravo George I fully agree!

    If you go to the original article (http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.4897
    ) and then to Fig. 11 you can see that on the horizontal axis on A4 3.5cm corresponds to 10000 ns.
    So this means that the 60 ns correspond to 0.2 mm. We can easily move the proton PDF by 0.2 mm which is less than the thickness of the dots.
    This is my explanation. What do you think?

  • hi Matteo! I did not misunderstand the experiment, I understand it is not a race, I question the measure of the speed of light (see my other post above)

  • I agree with Nathalie’s Olivi-Tran’s explanation: the currently accepted value of c is the result of measurements of light curved by the gravitational field of the Earth. The true value of c in ’empty space’ away from the influence of any mass whatsoever must be more. Neutrinos are apparently unaffected by gravity and hence exhibit the ’empty space’ value. The above statement about c contradicts Special Relativity, but to quote Russell Stannard on p. 83 of Relativity: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford) “A slowing down of the speed of light? …what we are dealing with here is not an inertial frame. In the curved spacetime produced by gravity, there is nothing to stop the speed of light assuming a value different from c.” In my Beautiful Universe Theory the gravitational field is not due to curved space-time, but to the angular momentum in space or its density potential (I am not referring to the atmosphere nor to the rotation of the Earth) . This creates a gradient index of refraction (n) that slows down and curves light, but apparently not neutrinos.

  • Matteo Vitturi

    Hello Nathalie, I agree with you. In this context, the measurement of speed of light could be another source of bias. And nobody has measured it in zero-curvature situation. So the speed reached today by neutrino could simply be the “real” nature limit-speed.

  • Enrico

    you are speaking about Entanglement but it’s “teleportation” of states not of particles (and tunnel effect is another thing)

  • matteo falasconi

    Valuable discussion. I saw that neutrinos are generated in a decay tube which lenght is about 1km. How do they know where neutrinos are exactly generated? Perhaps I misunderstood the setup, someone can tell me? thanks

  • Enrico

    Neutrinos are affected by gravity: they have a (very very little) mass
    Photons are affected by gravity: they have’nt a mass
    (see Gravitation or General Relativity)

    Neutrinos are weakly affected by the ordinary matter (atoms) and they can go through the Earth

  • denis quintanilla

    I really wonder how big a smile this is putting on Magueijo’s face. This is so exciting.

  • Enrico

    that may be but what about the Neutrino’s mass? particles with mass are slower than c in a vacuum

  • Enrico

    sorry, I attacked the post in the wrong place 😉

  • There are many things I do not understand about neutrinos- including this point – if neutrinos have mass they should slow down as well.

  • hi Vladimir, depending on the bias on c (see above) neutrinos may have a speed lower than c, but why would they slow down if they almost don’t interact with matter?

  • Ist doch schon seit 1911(langevin) bekannt, dass die Relativitätstheorie nicht gilt, ein viel billigeres Mikro-
    wellenexperiment von mir bei IEEE 2003 publiziert hat die
    relativistische Zeitdilatation widerlegt und damit wurde
    die spezielle Relativitätstheorie schon vor 8 Jahren in Frage gestellt. Der logische Fehler im Lichtpostulat von Einstein wurde im Jahre 2010 von mir ebenfalls erklärt, aber die schlauen Mainstream-Physiker wollten es nicht wahr haben. Jetzt haben sie die Bescherung, in Genf bei CERN kann es nicht mehr geleugnet werden. Hier irrte Einstein, wie es das Spektrum der Wissenschaft schon im Septemberheft 2009
    kundtat. Die schnellen Neutrinos sind für mich keine Überaschung, die Wahrheit kommt ans Licht mit variabler geschwindigkeit.
    Haretwig Thim

  • @Natalie hi Vladimir, depending on the bias on c (see above) neutrinos may have a speed lower than c, but why would they slow down if they almost don’t interact with matter?
    Exactly Nathalie they would have the ‘true vacuum’ speed c i.e. unhindered by matter. It is all strange…

  • Its after midnight in Tokyo and I had better sleep on it!

  • Daniel Vivern

    Nathalie Olivi-Tran says:
    September 23, 2011 at 7:20 am

    “like light in a refractive medium? well, are not the oscillations of the neutrinos (MSW effect) the duality wave-particle???”

    Yes, the oscillations of the neutrinos (MSW effect) can be compared to the electromagnetic radiation behavior in a refractive medium. But I do not see to which point the duality wave-particle should be involved. MSW effect establishes a change in mass for neutrinos because (I quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikheyev%E2%80%93Smirnov%E2%80%93Wolfenstein_effect) “in matter (they) have a different effective mass than neutrinos in vacuum, and since neutrino oscillations depend upon the squared mass difference of the neutrinos, neutrino oscillations may be different in matter than they are in vacuum.” Now, we know that MSW effect may intervene in CP-symmetry violation processes, which could lead to a neutrino > antineutrino swap. If we add to this the fact that antineutrinos are 16 % lighter than their counterparticles, perhaps we could reach some sound explanation to this faster-than light speed mystery.

  • Hallo Thim, ich denke nicht dass die ganze Relativitaetstheory ist falsch, sie ist einfach unkomplaet. Wie konnte Licht eine variable geschwindigkeit haben? die welle, ja, aber nicht das Licht!(scusi fuer die grammatische Fehler, ich schreibe standard Deutsch wie eine schweizer Kuh 🙂 )
    ps: fuer mich Zeit ist eine funktion des Universes Strahl

  • Enrico

    Neutrinos travel at practically the speed of light (at least before these data of yesterday, http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.4897) because the mass is very very little (yet unmeasured): they do not interact (almost never) and then do not slow down; when they rarely interact then they are revealed (see for example Opera itself or Borexino experiments: http://www.lngs.infn.it/lngs_infn/contents/lngs_en/research/experiments_scientific_info/experiments/current/borexino/)

  • Enrico

    Vielleicht es ist das richtig und wir haben ‘neue Physik’ (das wäre sehr interessant) aber ich glaube nicht: die instrumentalen Apparaten ist sehr komplex und vielleicht gibt es Messfehler.
    CERN Forscher haben ein unabhängiges Audit gebeten und sie haben keine Schlussfolgerung vorgeschlagen.

  • I’m not a specialist of the MSW effect, but I have some questions: how do you measure the mass of antineutrino? you talk about ‘effective mass’ and not mass???? aren’t neutrinos associated to a wave????(or a field)

  • See page 8 of the paper: “The point where the parent meson produces a neutrino in the decay tunnel is unknown. However, this introduces a negligible inaccuracy in the neutrino time of flight measurement, because the produced mesons are also travelling with nearly the speed of light.”

    The experimenters estimate the systematic error from this effect as being about 0.2 ns (see table of systematic errors on page 20).

  • Pingback: Neutrinos and speed of light | It's Forty Two!()

  • Hallo Enrico, vielleicht gibt es messfehler oder nich. In alle Faelle finde ich nicht dass es neue Physik ist…

  • Enrico

    hi Nathalie, there aren’t experimental measurements of the mass of neutrino (or antineutrino) but only experimental measurements of the differences of the masses of different neutrino’s flavours (i.e. types: electronic, muonic, tau) that are involved in the oscillations.

    neutrino’s behavior is explained by electroweak theory

  • Cedric

    The speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s by definition of the meter and the second.

  • Dennis

    George, that made a nice reading. But..how can one say the neutrino is indeed from the same object when it is lying 168,000 ly away. The distance is too large and even if the neutrinos travel in straight lines, i think current measuring capabilities would limit the accuracy of detection of the same neutrino. And we are talking about 60ns+/-10ns earlier arrival for the neutrino here.

  • Christophe

    One has a real paradox : the three families of neutrinos must have different masses ; at least two kinds of the three kinds of neutrinos must have a mass different of zero, since the oscillations between the three families implies differences in masses. If all the masses were zero or identical, there would be no oscillations. But with supernovas measurements, as the SN1987A, one knows that the neutrinos were detected together with the photons, that implies that their velocity was the same as that of the photons, i.e. that they have no mass. Somebody surely does have an answer…

  • Earth rotation is nearly perpendicular to the neutrinos translation, and very slow in comparison with this phenomenum

  • Enrico

    Hallo Nathalie, you mean that there are already possible explanation?

  • Enrico

    hi, i think that is because the mass is very little: what is the distance?

  • hi Enrico, the electroweak theory is a quantum field theory. If you read the previous Cern’s article on this blog, you can read that even field theory (Standard Model) is incomplete…like the experiment involved here, I’m surprised that it is possible to measure the difference of mass between neutrino and antineutrinp of different flavours with such an accuracy????maybe once again it is a problem of measure?

  • Ask the HEPcats! if I had to choose between two theories I would vote for general relativity, the Standard model is too far from ‘reality’ mathematically speaking…

  • S Koning

    As an engineer I would think that a few things could be considered.
    1> earth form, radius, shape
    2> rotation speed of earth compared to travelled distance of the substance
    3> rotation direction, counter-clockwise travel or clockwise travel
    4> magnetic composition of earth in the trajectory
    What would be the difference in speed over a larger distance, or if the material would be shot in clockwise direction. Would we then also say it goes quicker than light?

  • Hallo Enrico, I have my own explanation for this experiment here (see all my posts) but if you mean for the Standard Model, I think someone should translate it in a matheùatical form directly related to ‘real’ space

  • Samuel Berry

    I will have difficulty believing this result until the experiment is performed with a control, i.e., a beam of light alongside. The deviation from predicted speed is too small, and the number of interfering environmental factors too many, to give much confidence in the result without having the control. The experiment is worthwhile though, in that it will spur further research.

  • Daniel Vivern

    I think Enrico has focused this issue much better than I, Nathalie. Experimental measurements on neutrino mass are giving us surprising resuilts. I am not a specialist in MSW nor in neutrinos either, but it is clear that neutrino oscillation could not occur if the particle had no mass. And I mean “effective mass”. As far as fields / waves is concerned, I am reluctant to associate these particles to them, since the neutrino theory of light, which tried to explain photon as a neutrino-antineutrino pair, is now obsolete. I suggest to have a look to http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825172501.htm, where this ethereal issue of neutrino masses is dealt with.

  • I wonder if the crust of the earth has some natural expansion and contraction causing the distance to fluctuate. I haven’t heard any discussion on this possibility.

  • I have a basical question for HEPcats: what are (geometrically) speaking charge,flavour and color? Even more basical, what is charge?

  • Raphael

    maybe the speed of light is “20 parts per million” faster than we thought it was…

  • Hey could an atmosphere some how speed up the neutrinos!?!? What about hydrogen?

  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    [Um, okay, a series of posts. Excuse me for reposting part of an earlier comment then:]

    So … has everybody caught where they goofed yet?

    It is an easy one. According to the paper the distance measurement procedure use the geodetic distance in the ETRF2000 (ITRF2000) system as given by some standard routine. The european GPS ITRF2000 system is used for geodesy, navigation, et cetera and is conveniently based on the geode.

    I get the difference between measuring distance along an Earth radius perfect sphere (roughly the geode) and measuring the distance of travel, for neutrinos the chord through the Earth, as 22 m over 730 km. A near light speed beam would appear to arrive ~ 60 ns early, give or take.

    Of course, they have had a whole team on this for 2 years, so it is unlikely they goofed. But it is at least possible. I read the paper, and I don’t see the explicit conversion between the geodesic distance and the travel distance anywhere.

    Unfortunately the technical details of the system and the routine used to give distance from position is too much to check this quickly. But the difference is a curious coincidence with the discrepancy against well established relativity.

  • Hi Daniel, I read the article with the Fermilab results. I am not a HEPcat but I think they need theory to interpret their results. And the real question presently is: is the Standard Model complete?

  • Thomas

    Every measurement has error’s due to the uncertainty principle,not?
    Does anyone know what is the theoratical accuracy with which one can measure the speed of light?

  • Tom C

    How do you know that the measured neutrinos are the same as the emitted ones? Couldn’t they be entangled?

  • David C.S

    is these a “Cherenkov Efect” on other medium?, maybe as Gareth Collier is right?, or maybe some neutrinos have the chance to “Tunel” through other spatial dimension……no to crazy.

  • David C.S

    Is these a big scale “Cherenkov Efect”?, maybe Gareth Collier and Raphael are right?, are some Neutrinos chanelling through a supersimetry spatial dimension and….. no to crazy.

  • Ashish

    earth’s gravitational pull may not be exactly uniform all around. If it has a higher pull at the place of arrival then the muons will appear to arrive faster than c. One can conculde that the time at arrival spot is running slower than departure. However im assuming they have already taken that in consideration…

  • Esta noticia de la particula Subatomica del CERN, al descubrir viaja mas rapido
    que la luz. Eso es, rompiendo con el esquema de que, la luz viaja a todo lugar
    primero que todo.

  • I had the same thought but made it 3 days not 4 years.

    The discrepancy is if I understand correctly 1 part in 20,000,000 or 18 meters (I prefer to think of it as distance travelled error it is much easier to conceive of than 60ns).

    1987A is 186000 light years away, so light took approximately 186000 years, and a 20 millionth of 186000 years is about 3.3 days.

    I skimmed the preprint and it notes the 1987A supernova data already gives a higher accuracy measure of neutrino speed, and this result contradicts that result. If this were the only measurement of neutrino speed then we might be more astounding, since it contradicts results that suggest the result we prefer it seems likely that the new experiment is wrong. However if the scientists can’t figure out why it is wrong they are right to publish, since it might be something interesting.

    The problem is if the error is something “silly” it is likely to be hard to know to anyone without access to CERN, Gran Sasso, and precise geodesic equipment (which is dead cheap now). I did note one part of the equipment is 18m thick precisely, it wouldn’t be the first time someone measured from the wrong point 😉

  • The preprint discusses this. The error is larger than these changes.

    The equipment measured changes in length due to earthquakes, which is substantially smaller than the measured effect (although no guarantee against bias – i.e. it can precisely measure a 7 cm increase in distance between the transmitter and receiver, but this doesn’t of itself exclude them having the initial distance wrong. They also looked for seasonal effects, tidal effect, and various others.

  • Nanning

    Well maybe it’s the effect of the economic crisis putting Cern at great financial risk needing a quick great discovery as an alibi for them spending billions and not finding anything yet!Cut a few corners and the obvious will happen :mistakes in the media headlines etc.billions well spend!

  • Tate

    With the changes required to cosmological theory following the discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating instead of following the predictions that gravity would cause a deceleration to either future contraction or continuation on at progressively slower rate. Could the forces causing the acceleration be working on the Neutrino’s as well in proximity to Mass or in the act of passing through density of mass?

    Is it possible to replicate this test on the surface to see if the same effect is observed in air rather than through dense crust?

    What about through the relative vaccuum that the space station exists in?

  • C Maloney


    I haven’t tried to compute it from the uncertainty principle, but I do know that the best experimental determinations of C are accurate to better than +/- 1 m/sec by 1973 (NIST). This would produce a distance discrepancy of less than 1 centimeter over the 730 Km beam path. So it doesn’t seem that the OPERA result has anything to do with uncertainties in the value of C.

  • Mo

    Though I’m pretty sure the smart folks couldn’t have missed this one, but the radius of earth is a little different in Geneva than in Central Italy, which could perhaps mean a tiny difference in gravitational field which might not have been immediately obvious to GPS sats way up there.

    Zwar bin ich mir ganz sicher, dass das Ergebniss des Experiments gut analysiert ist, aber der Radius der Erde in Genf ist ein bischen anderes als in Italien. Das konnte sogar ein kleiner Unterscheid im Schwerkraftfeld bedeutet, das nicht sofort offensichlich für GPS sats gewesen war.

  • Mo

    Schauen Sie uns bitte mal ein Link zu Ihrer Arbeit.

  • Harrie

    I’m not sure about the “high-accuracy geodesy campaign that allowed measuring the 730 km CNGS baseline with a precision of 20 cm.”, but I suppose that it was taken into account that neutrinos travel a straight line, and do not follow the curvature of the earth.
    I thinks this make a difference of (exact sphere, 40000km around):
    730 – ( 2*sin(pi*730/40000) * 40000/(2*pi))
    about 400m

  • Daniel Vivern

    Yep, Nsthalie! I think you’ve put the REAL and RIGHT question: is the Standard Model complete? Let’s wait for new and exciting discoveries before trying new approaches to these awesome questions. I’m giving it up! All of you are real experts, whereas I am a mere amateur.

  • alphasun

    Maybe the neutrinos that arrived at the same time as the light were not the only ones, i.e. maybe some arrived earlier as suggested above.
    My question occurs to me: What are the timing technicalities of observing the neutrinos’ arrival — does the scintillation or whatever they observe have a significant duration? Ditto the registering of it on a camera, sensor system etc.
    Also,any chance of interference in the measuring apparatus?

  • A possible explanation for the observation of the light exceding velocity of the time psrticle is to apply fermat’s princible of light to the actual particle, assuming it travel in such a way as to minimize its distance. Maybe the actual observations are correct, yet the particle minimizes its distance in some way that it appears to travel faster than the speed of light.

  • please click on my name on my posts and go to ‘hobby’ or ‘publications’

  • Louis Lino

    Your right Simon. I went back to the preprint and saw the gps synchronizes with the atomic clocks at both ends and timestamps the distance measurement.

  • Louis Lino

    …but I still also think that the distance measurement would be the parameter most prone to error.

  • Steven Malone

    Just an observation – but what if the particle actually went back in time. Think of how that would look.

    The particle was expected to be received at N but was received at N-60ns. It sounds to me that the particle was received before it was expected – in other words it was sent – before it was sent… If measured incrementally through the course of the travel – if its measured speed is consistent at N-60ns – then it is in fact breaking the speed of light… however, if it’s traveling back in time – measurements will be progressively premature being received at earlier and earlier times than expected along the path.

    Just a thought – but I believe CERN just created the first Time Machine…

  • Steven Malone

    “A neutrino beam of
    suitably chosen energy could be generated in a beamdump
    experiment at one of the Earth’s poles and pointed
    into the ground, traversing a pit with a slowly changing
    matter density profile. Once being converted inside the
    Earth’s core, the sterile neutrinos will avail shortcuts
    in extra dimension to extremize the action of the propagation
    path, and thus effectively propagate a spacelike
    distance. On their way out of the Earth’s interior
    the sterile neutrinos are reconverted into active flavors,
    which could be observed by a neutrino detector at the
    equator. If the neutrinos have advanced a spacelike distance,
    the Earth’s spin at the equator will transform
    the signal into a moving reference frame and thus reverse
    the order of emission and detection. It could be
    possible to send the signal back to the point of origin
    (the pole lab) before it had been sent off.” – Neutrino Time Travel – http://arxiv.org/abs/0710.2524

  • Steven Malone

    It would be funny to find that they measured the geodesic distance and not the path distance through earth. But I find that highly unlikely.

    I think it has a lot to do with how the neutrino passes through matter – as the results may vary if in a vacuum such as space. In other words the particles received may have not been the particles sent – but rather an effect of interactions between matter and the neutrino beam. I’m no physicist though – just a curious observer.

    However, I’d like to believe that causality was violated and the beam traveled back in time. (Received before Emitted)

  • Nathalie bonjour – to summarize my idea above: the accepted c has been measured in Earth’s gravity. I think the actual speed in space free from mass and gravity is c’>c . For some reason that I do not understand neutrinos may not be affected by gravity and hence travel at c’. Our later discussion about neutrinos slowing down is obviously spurious since they do not, but if they had mass they would be affected by gravity and then slow down.

  • Sorry I just saw this exactly so – see my posts below. c has been only measured in Earth’s gravity. Away from gravity it may be c’>c . And neutrinos may not be affected by gravity hence they travel at c’ .

  • albert

    if something is found capable of traveling faster than light, would
    e=mc^2 turn into something like this :

    f = a modifying factor
    q = vertical translation on the energy axis

  • Quentin Gabor


  • Quentin Gabor

    Those may have been substantially lower energy neutrinos (as a whole) from 1987A, and our ability to observe may not have been adequate to pick up small sub-threshold neutrino events. There sounds to be a range of speeds between the electoneutrino and tau neutrino and mu also?

  • Russell Martin

    The distance of ~730 km is the great circle distance between the two points. The neutrinos need not and do not take the surface path. The path through the earth is 10%-15% shorter. Presumably their velocity is less then c since they are traveling through rock rather then the vacuum. This result only places limits on the relationship of the path after General Relativity effects through the earth and the speed of light through the local geology.

  • Bent Rothenberg

    what is the wavelength of gravity? the moongravity can be observed on the sea a small one bigger and again a small, just like the latest observations from the LHC the scheme shows the mesurements in center close to the standard model and two others symetric lower at -3

  • Rahul Dasgupta


  • Peter Ireland

    in quantum theory, light averages out at the speed of light, and over short distances and time frames, can exceed or be lower than the average speed of light. I assume that given the longer, interstellar range cases appear not to have this anomaly, then the CERN-OPERA experiment indicates a small scale outcome, where the instant solutions may vary notably from average speeds. This would be consistent with the scale effects of “interference” in QED experiments.

  • Carlos Oliveira

    Eu já esperava por isso… Aguardem, pois muita coisa vai mudar rss

  • Boris

    Hey, let’s just explain it with dark energy/matter, it’s what the cool kids do. To follow suit just turn it around and calculate the location and amount of the stuff needed to explain the result, preferably with nice images of blueish clouds.

  • marco fratnik

    As we don’t know for sure may I ask a question:
    shouldn’t we distiguish mass from charge? An oscillation requires a mass just as much as a mass-less photon is affected by gravity?

  • Jeremy Godfrey

    Is it the case that only a small proportion of the neutrinos leaving CERN are detected at Gran Sasso?

    It seems that the CERN neutrinos emissions comprise six-second cycles, each of which contains two pulses each lasting 10.5 microseconds. As it is impossible to know the precise time of emission of each neutrino detected, the time of flight is estimated by comparing the probability density function of the time of emission with the time of detection.

    If it were the case that neutrinos emitted later in a pulse were more likely to be detected, could this account for the OPERA team’s observations? This bias could be somehow related to the experimental set-up, or it could indicate some hitherto unobserved property of neutrinos. But it would not require any neutrino to have travelled faster than the speed of light.

    Could this possibility be excluded by repeating the experiment with a different length of pulse? If this possibility were correct, one would expect to find the discrepancy between observed and expected arrival times to vary with pulse length.

    Or have I missed something?

  • Indranath Bhattacharyya

    It is really an excellent result and lot of new thoughts and ideas from different corners of the world are awaiting. A solid theoretical model is required to explain such phenomenon. I am not worried that whether STR will face any problem or not, but I am much worried what will be the fate of Standard Model or any of its extended theory.

  • Ivan DGA

    I’m just a physics student and I wanted to notice something. Did they take account of the relative velocity between the laboratories? They have different latitudes, so there’s a difference in cross-radial velocity, which generates an aberration. I didn’t read about this in article. It’s just a consideration, Earth is not an inertial reference frame.

  • Nabil

    Results from supernova does not necessiarly imply there is an experimental error in operah experiment . It is even less likely there is an error . If the results are confirmed this does not necessarily indicate that Special relativity is wrong but rather that it is a part of a bigger picture . It may push some extradimensional theories forward and help in search for quantum gravity I think

  • Mehere

    We live in a multiverse. Every universe in the multiverse is a dimensional level which has its own speedlight. The level we are now is shifting to another frequency level and of course the speedlight is changing accordingly. Élémentaire mon cher Watson!

  • Until now it has been assumed that the maximum speed of information propagation (c1) inside subatomic particles is equal to the speed of light in a vacuum (c0) but there has been no means of testing that assumption.
    Photons cannot travel through nuclear particles but neutrinos can, and usually do. So the observed timing may be giving us the first indication of the value of c1. It may be showing that neutrinos move very rapidly across nuclei traversed in rock. We need to know the average proportion of the neutrinos’ paths through the Italian rock that are within nucleons, to see whether this would account for the phenomenon.
    If this is correct our ideas about neutron stars and black holes would need revising but the space-time in which we live remains Einsteinian.

  • Leonardo M N

    Creo que la respuesta de Rafael ha de considerarse. Tengamos en cuenta que la medición vigente de la luz data de principios de los ochenta del pasado siglo con tecnología basada en el láser. La metrología y tecnología del experimenro Opera incorpora avances de tres décadas, ¿porqué no podría suponer este experimento una mejora en la determinación de esta constante universal?

  • Obviously, this experiment shows that direct measurement of distance between these points differs from results of other measurements of this distance.

  • Victor Ostanin

    Ratio satellite speed / to speed of light is:
    8000 / 3e8 = 2.66666667 × 10-5
    which is suspiciously close to reported relative excess of neutrino’s speed.
    8000m/s * (730E3km / 3e8m/s) = 19.4666667m Is the distance satellite moves while light propagate 730km and it closely matches distance alleged neutrino’s lead over the light.
    I am tempted to think this factor went unaccounted somehow.

  • Pingback: So a neutrino runs into a tachyon in a bar…. « Cosmic Rays()

  • John S Nolan

    I am not a physicist but a technologist. I find it strange that the effective error is 60-70ns and the clock quantisation of the second counter in the FPGA is 10ns. This makes me suspicious that the last 3-bits of the second counter are being lost when added to the first counter. This would give an effect of timings being 60-70ns less than they should be, hence things seeming to happen sooner rather than later. Anyone checked the code? This is exactly the kind of error I’ve seen several times in FPGA code…

  • There are 12 elementary matter particles (with the antiparticles = 24). if we are in space-time we are in four dimensions and 4!=24 . Strange, isn’t it?

  • bhaskar

    Well could be… because measurement depend on what we are using to measure…its relative

  • Peter Kelly

    As I see it, there can only be a limited number of reasons for the ‘discrepancy’. Namely:

    1. The distance given is inaccurate.
    2. The clock is not measuring time correctly
    3. The accepted speed of light (for a given circumstance?) is incorrect.
    4. The neutrino measured as arriving is not the same as the one measured as departing.
    5. A current unknown (which would include Einstein and our understanding of physics being incorrect)

    For my part, I think the error is likely to be in the distance, or much less likely that the interpretation of which neutrino is being measured.

    However, if it is a real phenomenon, I concur with those who have raised the paradox of two entities appearing to exist in different places at the same time. If we can untangle that and find the reason, we may answer this question too.

  • I mean: anisotropy in the ‘shape’ of the elementary matter particles could be an explanation of their different properties.Imagine that any of the three neutrino has a relative ‘huge’ x dimension and relative ‘tiny’ y and z dimensions would explain why it interacts so weakly with other particles…I suggest the Cern people to analyze the cross section of particles interactions like they did for the protons…

  • John S Nolan

    BTW Send me the code, I’ll check it for free

  • Quim Sabate

    Of course result have to be corroborate, but just think that speed limit in universe is an asymptote of a function that describes speed of a particle with an specific mass. Particles with less mass than photons can approach to this limit a bit more, and go faster than speed of light in vacuum.

  • Matthias Bürcher

    You cannot comparee directly to the light, because the the neutrinos are going through the rocks while the photons can’t. Maybe the mass of the earth creates a gravity field that distorts the space at an amount that the distance is actually smaller.
    This experiment should be repeated in a location where a direct comparison is possible with the photons. I admit that on earth it will be difficult to find a mountain that is visible at a distance of 730 km. And it will also be rather difficult to build neutrino mirrors to build an installation like the ones used to measure speed of light a century ago.

  • Photons have a zero time dimension: there are threedimensional, they follow the curvature of space-time which is fourdimensional like a twodimensional shadow in a three dimensional space

  • Ronald Kleiss

    Particles with less mass than a photon… The photon has zero mass. What would you propose?
    If tachyons exist, they would have imaginary mass (since they need mass^2 <0).

  • Michel Savin

    I think that if you change the size of a window, you will find out that the delta te is function of its size…

  • George Storm

    Initially I was looking for a systematic time error, but the reported checks using a portable time standard now make this seem rather unlikely.

  • George Storm

    Looking for potential error sources (and probably duplicating some of what my betters have already examined)

    Looking through the paper, it seems that the authors have been able to check the relative times at the two sites independently using GPS and a portable standard.
    If I understand correctly, location is regarded as soundly based, albeit the surface references are dependent solely on GPS. There’s no description as to how they have handled potential atmospheric anomalies – but I think it reasonable to assume that internal reviewers will have ‘gone to town’ on this.
    One remaining question that has not been asked regards the indirectness of the knowledge of the instance of creation. Could this be an issue? Or could it be an issue with the software as proposed elsewhere?
    Might the larger apparent speed difference in previous measurements over shorter distances be a clue (albeit these were apparently within experimental error, and for these I am relying on reportage rather than the original papers)?

  • George Storm

    I should have said: comparison with absolute time anomalies over a much shorter distance might be illuminating.

  • RZ

    this is probably a silly question, but here goes: did the scientists correct for the earth’s rotation, if needed at all?

  • Dave Nixon

    They see no systematic effect from day/night or seasonal variations:

    “Data were also grouped in arbitrary subsamples to look for possible systematic
    dependences. For example, by computing δt separately for events taken during day and night
    hours, the absolute difference between the two bins is (17.1 ± 15.5) ns providing no indication for
    a systematic effect. A similar result was obtained for a possible summer vs spring + fall
    dependence, which yielded (11.3 ± 14.5) ns.”

    Obviously the Grand Sasso target is moving during the neutrino flight, around 30km/s due to earth’s motion and around 250km/s due to Sun’s orbit around the Galaxy. For a 2.4 ms flight, these effects mean the target moves several hundred meters in some direction. Splitting the timings into two bins is hardly an adequate analysis, they should split them into 24 bins by hour of day, and into 12 bins by month of year and see what that shows.

  • Dave Nixon

    Even if the target motion due to artronomical motion is at right angles to the neutrino line of flight, the distance traveled by the neutrinos will be slightly larger than the distance measured in the earth’s intertial frame. Think of a jet travelling at right angles to the line of sight of a radar. If the radar sends a pulse at the exact time of the jet’s closest approach to the radar, the pulse wavefront will intercept the jet slightly further away from the radar than the jet was when the pulse was sent. So in that case the pulse (neutrinos) would arrive later than speed of light suggests based on the initial distance. However the actual direction of motion of the target varies widely, so they need to analyze that in detail.

  • Your question is not silly at all. It occupied the best minds of the late 19th c. concerning the possibility of the ether’s motion affecting the speed of light! In this case the experiment takes place in solid rock so the ether is not involved. Rotation should not effect this experiment since everybody involved is in the same inertial frame of reference…hmm are they? If the emitting station and the sensing station are at different depths they would rotate on different circles. Food for thought.

  • I think the Theory of Relativity and Lorentz Transformation related incorrectly space, time and movement . I understand that the Michelson-Morley calculations were not correct (http://espacioytiempo.net/recalculating-michelson-morley/) and that those errors close many others interpretive possibilities.
    The scientific community is developing under severe strain and creeds. However, the facts show the end of an era and, perhaps, the physical need to breathe out of their official doctrines to explain this experiment.

    The notion of the bodies can not travel faster than the light speed is a spurious idea, and our beloved neutrinos, as the muons are entering in the atmosphere, traveling outside relativistic prejudices.

    The return in teh time is a nice idea for fiction, for science fiction.


    Francisco J. Carbajal.

  • Steve Pells

    Perhaps neutrinos travel faster than light through the ether 😉

  • Jan de Wit

    The interpretation of this experiment is a typical classical interpretation. In quantum mechanics entanglement shows already interaction must faster then the speed of light. This whole experiment given the particle size and the way it is setup has to be interpreted using quantum mechaniscs. The wave equation develops and sees two barriers purposely created. The moment the density reaches at certain value at the measuring point, the particle is detected.

  • The official precision of the GPS is 10m (it was 100m before being unlocked). It is assumed to be 2 cm: unbelievable!

  • maybe…the conclusion should be, that energy is not mass multiplied by speed of light squared, but energy is mass multiplied by velocity of neutrinos squared.

  • Quim Sabate

    not thinking in tachyon
    What I purpose is that the speed limit in universe is above speed of light and neutrino’s speed. It’s very close, but can’t be reached by any particle.
    At this point, using it in Einstein’s formula (instead of ‘c’), every particle has it’s mass.

  • Gregor McDonagh

    6. I think this has been mentioned in part in another entry, there are four “instances” of measurement for the comparison, each with an interaction time. If neutrinos interact quicker than photons, then it is like the photons arriving first then standing in a queue at arrivals. The suggestion of testing over different distances would eliminate any possibility of an interaction time discrepancy.

  • Here is a new possible explanation (but now, unlike in my previous posts above I will assume that neutrinos are indeed affected by gravity):
    It is well known that a spherical body’s gravitational effect is equivalent to an equal mass concentrated as a point at the center. How deep in the crust have the neutrinos traveled? Underground they would be under less gravitational pull than at the surface. Following the argument in my earlier posts that the local speed of light is slowed down by gravity, neutrinos would travel slightly faster underground than c, as measured under the larger ‘standard’ sea-level gravity. In my 2005 paper “Beautiful Universe”, I give a qualitative explanation of gravity as a refractive medium that slows down light. More recently arxiv.org/pdf/0704.3485 offers an independent and more rigorous analysis of the same idea). This argument of course it is not nullified by the fact that light itself cannot travel in rocks: neutrinos could.

  • Victor Ostanin

    Dielectric constant epsilon of the air is 1+5.8986*10^-4 . GPS radio waves propagate in dense atmosphere a significant portion of their travel path under typical grazing angles.
    Let us say 1/3 of delay is caused by air. This makes apparent GPS distance longer then it is by a relative factor ~2*10^-4 , which is again too close to alleged neutrino’s speed deviation for comfort of mind.

  • Vishwanu

    Am wonderstruck and have a few doubts. Can someone help please?
    1. Already raised question about the certainty of the source of the detected neutrinos.
    2. Does it not mean, these neutrinos were detected before they were fired? if so, does not Q1 become murkier?
    3. Is the Quantum concept – the observer and the instrument become part of the total set-up – not applicable? if so, how would that influence results?
    4. Lastly, since the ‘Signal’ of detection and its recording by compuers can only happen at speeds much lower than light speed, does this amount to measuring a milemeer dia dot with a scale having least count of 1cm? How this is overcome?

  • I think, Einsteins assumption must be devided into two parts:
    1. There IS a maximum speed (“Einstein Reletivitättheorie” is based on THIS)
    2. The maximum speed is the speed of light in vacuum.

    Maybe the second is wrong and a better value is the speed of Neutrinos – or another one which still is a little bit higher.

    This idea leeds to the same conclusion as that of Tobias Kuban.

  • Stijn Augustynen

    Can these measurements be the results of quantum interference? The neutrino beam moves with a group velocity slightly below c, but the detector only measures higher speed neutrino’s in the wavepacket. Constructive interference in velocity-space?


    Is it possible that not the light speed was exceeded, but space time was changed by the experiment?

  • Exactly the maximum speed is that in a vacuum free from any gravitational influence. The currently accepted value, c , is less than the maximum because it was measured under the influence of Earth’s gravity. In my last post above I explained that the neutrinos underground experience less gravity, so their speed must be intermediate between c and the maximum.

  • Quim Sabate

    I agree,
    that’s what I meant in my comment above

  • Ray Guest

    Sorry if this is a silly question. As far as we know Photons have no mass but have momentum and energy. Is it possible that under certain conditions neutrinos act as true massless partials with V > C. This would not change C but we could no longer identify neutrinos with C and could this mean Photons have a tiny mass?

  • Are we totally ruling out the possibility of the neutrinos travelling through some other ‘unknown’ dimension? Just pondering, though. 🙂

  • Alex Selby

    The authors seem to have done something slightly unexpected in their
    likelihood calculation (section 7, p.14). We know the proton
    distribution function, p_j, corresponding to detected neutrino j for
    j=1,2,…,16111. If we knew p’_j, the corresponding neutrino
    distribution function at the detector, then the task of estimating
    flight times is purely mathematical and the correct expression for
    L(delta t) would involve the product of the different p’_j: the
    formula would be

    L(delta t) = product_j [ p’_j(t_j + delta t) ]

    (In practice the unknown p’_j differ from the known p_j by some
    small uncertain time offsets, and since we have to use p_j to
    calculate the likelihood, it may be necessary for stability to
    modify this procedure, perhaps by first smoothing p_j by convolving
    with a narrow distribution of width a few ns. It is obviously
    important in general to understand what other things contribute to
    the difference between p_j and p’_j, and in particular whether these
    differences are capable of introducing biases.)

    Instead the authors have first averaged the p_j over all j
    corresponding to the first or second extraction, and then used these
    averaged functions w_k (for k=1,2, rather than the 16111 individual
    p_j). It is not clear from the paper exactly what procedure the
    authors have followed, but there is a possible mistake here. If the
    proton distributions have different total numbers of protons, then
    the p_j should be normalised first and then added. If instead w_k is
    the result of summing the p_j and then normalising, then the result
    will be size-biased, that is, those p_j with more protons will
    contribute more than they should. If in addition it turns out that
    those p_j with more protons also tend to have slightly later
    protons, then that may lead to an underestimate of the neutrino
    flight time.

    Is there to be a more detailed paper in the near future, and is
    there any prospect of opening up the raw data for others to analyse?

    Oliver Riordan / Alex Selby

  • Neutrino time of flight anomaly is the result of absolute motion of the source and target in space.

    Even though this is not the case of superluminal neutrino velocity, still it challenges the second postulate of Special theory of Relativity (SR). Let us consider the time of flight of a signal pulse from a transmitter A on the ground to a receiver B on a spacecraft. At an instant t1 let a signal pulse be emitted from the transmitter when the instantaneous locations of A and B are A1 and B1 in space. Let the signal pulse reach B at an instant t2 when the instantaneous locations of A and B are A2 and B2 respectively in space. The total time of flight of the signal pulse will now depend on the instantaneous separation distance A1B1 as well the distance B1B2 which represents the motion of the receiver during the pulse propagation time.

    In the case of OPERA neutrino experiment, it is the absolute motion of the neutrino target (in the direction of the source) during the neutrino flight time (about 2.4 ms) that influences the total flight time of the neutrino bunch. The known motions of the earth around the sun and that of the solar system within the galaxy, obviously contribute to the absolute motion of the neutrino ‘source and the target’ in space. Since this absolute motion of the ‘source and the target’ has not been taken into account, it has resulted in the present time of flight anomaly.

    In this experiment, the effect of absolute motion gets mitigated to some extent due to the continuous synchronization of the source and target master clocks with the GPS time. To highlight this aspect, it is suggested that the two master clocks at the source and target sites may be allowed to run free (without GPS link) after initially synchronizing them with the GPS time. The neutrino flight time measurements conducted during 24 hour period of free running (initially synchronized) master clocks will show even greater time of flight anomaly. In this regard my paper titled, “Proposed experiment for detection of absolute motion” published in Physics Essays [Phys. Essays 23, 442 (2010)] may be referred.

    G S Sandhu

  • l.bert

    Particles, quarks, higgs, higgs bosen, super-sub, super spin sub-(super-rotation – the potential field, ultra-rotating spin – spin-derived super, super spin domain field, etc.) has been the world the physical sciences, space sciences, life sciences most important and significant study of a scientific experiment, including Fermilab, the European particle laboratory, in which the atomic research center and so on. The so-called “God particle”, about its origin and nature, is actually a unique “super-spin sub-movement ‘,’ super-rotation potential field site ‘. Newtonian mechanics, quantum mechanics, for example higgs bosen, cosmic “big bang”, not the black hole mound, the particles can be divided into infinitely limited, when the airspace, the formation or destruction of the universe, the gene produces and the source of life, the eternal and material conservation, homogeneous universe, the stars or the detection of different quality, and so on. Scientific experiments and found that only a relative truth, and the discovery of human vision and will not go beyond the limitations of space and time. In other words, the particles are unusually far from being our great human insight and discovery? Or a considerable number of particles infinitely small bodies like changing speed, as many do? Sophistry of philosophers, theorists of the Imagination and the hypothesis games, and some evidence supporting zero broken unspeakable Although the theory is quite attractive and influence, extraordinary, and sometimes do still noisy dust, earth-shattering, but all the scientific discoveries Only sufficient experimental evidence to destroy the previous test deficiencies and mistakes earlier, otherwise, science can only be a mirage, skimming over the surface, and finally short-lived and disappeared into the great and most beautiful bubbles. Of course, scientific exploration and experimentation is endless, and today in the special sense of exploration is a self-study of yesterday’s positive or negative. Without which, the natural and social decline of the Kuji. “‘Super-roton”‘ formation, the initial state, the ground state, final state, super-rotation potential domain field rotation of the spin-animal management equation basic expressions “Here, super-spin sub-, super-rotation – the potential domain field, is this the key words” . Super-roton and elementary particles (the current human found only 62 types of particles), the universe exploded with the super-rotation movement, genes and super-spin sub-, super-roton physical and chemical standards certificate and structure of the super-rotation movement of the power calculus equations, super spin potential domain formation and evolution of the field division of the Earth-Moon and the Galaxy super super spin spin, spin, and super-clusters of Mars over spin, and so on. Here, there are already thousands of experimental and natural evidence to give us enough experimental validation and analysis possibilities and opportunities.

    , Natural science, especially basic research experiments test found that the most powerful force and that force only to destroy evidence and evidence, rather than some may not, vague, unspeakable permit so-called”theory”or “hypothesis.” But also to withstand long-term natural history of repeated testing in different geographical regions and confirmed. Mathematical expressions and refer to the diagram see below.

  • RJ Nelson

    Just throwing something out, but I thought there was no true vacuum possible, due to virtual particles (Hawking Radiation from black holes is based on this concept). So how does one measure the speed of light in a vacuum, if there is no such thing?

  • Charles Troeung

    I was just wondering how you can measure something to be traveling faster than the speed of light, if we all assume that information cannot travel faster than the speed of light at the start of the experiment? I mean how can the detector measure something that is faster than the speed that it can operate?

  • Hi folks,
    Could the potential FTL neutrino be taking a shorter path to the target because of it’s unique properties? it may be able to skip in and out of space time which is possible because space time although intrinsically linked are not one and the same but closely linked in a kind of elastic N dimensional matrix. I visualise this a bit like 2 thin sheets of cellophane which appear and act as one most of the time but can slip and also flex; the neutrino maybe because of it’s lack of mass can move both through and between the layers; if the layers are distorted or curved then space time ceases to be a constant as values for both layers change; there may also be another dimension to consider here. Does this make any sense?


    Dave Moore

  • Enrico

    Hi, what happens then to telecommunications systems (i.e. TV, radio, …) or to GPS?

  • Enrico

    Hi Mo, scientists have considered the earthquakes, the shape of the earth, etc., and also blocked a highway to redo the calculations…

    we need a separate experiment and then we can make assumptions

  • Enrico

    No, neutrinos exceeds the “real” speed of light (i.e. the speed of light in vacuum)

  • Enrico

    Hello, it’s well know that Standard Model is incomplete: it does not explain the oscillations of neutrinos and other things… and also General Relativity is incoplete (we still have no theory of quantum gravity).
    We use theories IF they work and in the context in which they work.
    And new theories must predict something that has to happen or something that happened but is not explainable (as in this case). But before thinking about new theories, someone has to reproduce the experiment…

  • In the context of the discussions here the term vacuum would refer to an ideal space without any gravity from any mass. In a theoretical framework where the speed of light is effected by gravity, the speed of light in such a medium can be extrapolated from its value measured in Earth’s gravity.

  • Essentially if one knows the distance from the neutrino source to the detector, and divides that by the time it took from emission to detection, you would have experimentally measured the speed of the neutrinos. If this disagrees with theory then either there are measurement errors, or the theory is wrong.

  • Enrico

    Hello Nathalie, I had already read all posts and now your article “Why is the ‘speed’ of neutrinos higher than the speed of light?” from your site. The following statements (is the same of your first post) in your article leave me surprised:
    “It has been proved that neutrinos go through the earth: there are not sensitive to the curvature due to the mass of the earth, while photons follow the curvature due to the deformation of space (due to the presence of massive objects). That’s why neutrinos arrived before photons.”

    Why photons are sensible and neutrinos are not?
    Why the curvature due to Earth mass is important in this calculation? (It’s not a star or a black hole)
    Why you says that neutrinos don’t interact? They interact weakly but they interact.

  • Allan Levine

    Could Neutrinos be unaffected by gravitational time dilation. Perhaps Neutrinos could travel through a blackhole event horizon.

  • Enrico

    Hi, maybe we live in a multiverse… but if the speed of light changes the speed of neutrino changes too… (and the speed of light is not changed yet)

  • Enrico

    Hi, Christophe. See the previous post of George Djorgovski and the comments (in particular those of Simon that i think it is more accurate).

    Maybe electronic neutrinos behaves differently from muonic neutrinos (or the problem is the different energy level)

  • Anonymous

    Dude. They use AGPS.

  • Enrico

    I don’t agree, the neutrinos feel gravity fields as photons but earth gravity field is weak.

  • Mike Sidey

    There is a large degree estimation by statistics in this experiment in several places:
    1. the time of occurence of the generation of the neutrino within the 10.5 usec burst to within a few ns out of 10500ns.
    2. the unknown position of the neutrino detection within the roughly 1000 ton square detector array causes are uncertainty. Light travels roughly 1 ft per ns, slower in glass with the refractive index effect.
    3. It appears that no way in the very limited material published on your web site to the public, of verifying the distance between the two sites other than GPS as the ultimate source, for the two San Grasso tunnel geodesy “benchmarks” ( positions).
    4.I assume you allowed for the curvature of the earth since the sites are underground and therefore vertical access shafts at each site would be inclined slightly toward each other, not parallel. There was a Greek scientist in classical times that closely estimated the diameter of the earth using nothing more than two distant vertical water well shafts and the angle of the sun.
    I don’t mean to be facetious, but as an experimenter I would trust the calculated extrapolated time of arrival of the neutrinos in your experiment before I would trust the geodesy measurement of distance, given the observation that the neutrinos and the light from a supernova some 100,000 light years away arrived with several hours of each other.
    5. Your experiment is a tremendous accomplishment and a tribute to international co-operation. If you wanted to verify measurements and estimates, we would suggest two totally separate sequestered teams of CERN and non-CERN people in a double-blind test repeat all of the measurements without any knowledge of the other’s method, and report the results to 2 different managers to avoid bias and the repeated use of the same metrology equipment. In particular I would have at least one team not use any blueprints but instead take measurements off of the apparatus itself. You can look to other large programs for the consequences of simulation and assumptions including the original Hubble optical telescope’s focusing fault, which was never tested assembled before launch, for example, due to the difficulty of assembling it without the distortion influence of the earth surface gravity of its own weight.
    The behaviors of people to their management cannot be overlooked.

    Good luck!

  • dhrou

    You seem to imply the measurement was made from comparing the speed of photons and the speed of neutrino across matter.
    But in this experiment there has been no measurement of the speed of light (which btw would not cross 700km of rocks…). Only the neutrino speed was measured (by dividing the absolute distance between emission and detection points by the time of flight) to be slightly above 299792458m/s^-1 the speed of light in vacuum (c0 in your notation). Which is not allowed in relativity.

  • dhrou

    Note that there was no direct measurement of distance. Only the absolute coordinate of the emission and detection point was each measured (one small complication being that for the dection point, this was made from 2 points each on each side of the tunnel then propagated inside. GPS is a very standard established technology, where the effects you mention are known and accounted for since a long time . With standard receiver one can get order meter precision with little work, so 20cm with a bit more work (the claimed precision) is very plausible. (for civil engineering cm precision is not unusual).

  • dhrou

    But then it would then not be a constant shift : if the value ends with 111 then this will make the reading earlier by 70ns, but if the value is 0, there will not shift. So this will stretch the measured pulse. This would shift the leading edge of Fig12 p19 of the paper http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.4897 but NOT the trailing edge. (btw the effect on these edges of the measured 60ns shift is not shown in the paper, it was shown in the backup slides of the seminar at CERN : slide 80 in http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1384486.
    But your comment does raise the point that there is no absolute calibration of the detection time and there could indeed be an additional delay which was forgotten or a bug as you write (OK they did transport an atomic clock on both sites but it is not *exactly* the same thing)

  • Gerhard Kramler

    Exactly. The required tests include a comparison of neutrino speed in vacuum vs. in earch, to find out if the medium makes that difference.

  • dhrou

    neutrinos travel about 2.4ms, they are measured to arrive 60 ns (billionth of s) than they should. So they are very far from being detected before being emitted.
    On 1: it is not a measured made on individual neutrinos, but by matching a distribution of emission time and a distribution of detection time for many of them, each being 10 micro s wide.
    Fig 11 p18 of the paper http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.4897, show this. (indeed the shift measurement is <1 per cent of the pulses width, there could be funny trick there).

  • dhrou

    1 indeed non trivial
    2 there is no light propagating in matter involved (the neutrino decays into a muon (going speed of light minus epsilon), the muon is detected by the scintillating medium in the Target Tracker.
    3 and 4: People seems to focus in their comment on geodesy, but geodesy is very well established technology, also using gps. Just google “gps millimeter precision” and one find loads of papers from the previous century. The reported baseline error is 20cm and almost the smallest systematical error 0.7ns vs 7ns total. The speaker at the cern seminar explained that this was dominated by the geodesy *inside* the tunnel because they did not want to ask the traffic in the tunnel to be fully blocked for one week, they only had one lane blocked, see slide 62 of http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1384486
    5 In fact the paper is written with a very careful tone, much more than the accompanying press releases. It does not say “evidence for superluminic neutrino velocity”, but it ends with: “Despite the large significance of the measurement reported here and the stability of the analysis, the potentially great impact of the result motivates the continuation of our studies in order to investigate possible still unknown systematic effects that could explain the observed anomaly. We deliberately do not attempt any theoretical or phenomenological interpretation of the results.” This teaches quite a lesson.

  • Joan

    Speeding vs cheating neutrinos ?
    Does anybody know whether the relativistic space-time fabric’s deformity (due to gravitation)along the neutrino’s path inside Earth has been taken into account and observer/detector’s measurements corrected accordingly ?
    If this was not the case, could this small time difference be expalined by Einstein’s STR, so the neutrinos would have an advantage that photons lack in vacuum, where the space-time fabric remanis undisturbed?

  • Joan

    (vacuum : I meant space)

  • Andy

    Ok, I’m a total layperson… so I’m throwing out a suggestion just in case you smart people haven’t thought of it 🙂

    Is it possible that neutrinos don’t encounter the effects of massive objects’ distortion of space/time, so rather than getting “bent” like light does, for example, they’re able to go “straight” from point A to point B and therefor travel “faster than light”?

    Don’t laugh 🙂

  • Besides, any particle in a gravitational field of the Earth flies not as the crow flies, and on a cycloid (brachistochrone)

  • Dante Vialetto

    Is this fact perhaps the first “proof” that there are other dimensions? If neutrinos took another shorter path out of our dimensions, Einstein’s laws are safe!

  • No, dhrou, I only assume that the time light would take has been calculated from an accurately known distance.
    I have thought for many years that the assumption that the maximum speed of information propagation inside nuclear matter equates to c is very dubious. Einstein’s valid arguments about clocks and signals cannot be assumed to apply in such a different medium. I see no reason why what I have called c1 should not be greater, perhaps much greater, than c.
    Our thoughts are biased by c being called the speed of light. Fundamentally it is the maximum speed of information propagation in vacuo. Photons travel at that speed, fitting nicely with the interpretation that they have zero rest mass. The numerical value of c (in any units) is not predicted from any theory, so there is no reason it could not have a different value in a quite different medium. Photons can enter the space inside atoms but photons cannot travel inside nucelar matter, unlike neutrinos.
    Obviously the experimenters are right to be cautious about their results but I think all the comments here questioning GPS accuracy, earth curvature and relativistic effects are fatuous: of course the team will have considered all those kinds of things.
    So we need to start thinking about the simplest explanation if the result is valid. Please consider my proposal.

  • Christophe

    Once again here with some simple calculations : 60.70 ns corresponds to a light travel path of 18.20 m, and the error of ±7.40 ns corresponds to an error of ±2.22 m in this path. If the “measured distance” between source and target is 731’278.00 m ±0.20 m, as measured through GPS satellite, and if one assumes that the maximal speed velocity c still is valid and the same for the neutrinos, the conclusion must be that the path of the neutrinos is shorter by 18.20 m ±2.22 m than the path the photons. In other words, the path of the photons is an arc of a circle and the path of the neutrinos is the chord (segment) of this circle. The arc is the experimental distance of 731’278.00 km and the chord is less than the arc by 18.20 m ±2.22 m, i.e from 15.98 m to 20.42 m. One can calculate the radius of this circle, which has nothing to do with the radius of the Earth ! The radius is 29’921 km, as calculated with 18.20 m, with a range between 28’248 km and 31’932 km depending of the values 20.42 m and 15.98 m. Roughly one must now explains this big circle with a radius of ~30’000 km ±~2’000 km (or something like..). The arc is not parallel to the surface of the Earth, but is curved in the opposite direction… The centre of the circle is in the sky, above the Earth, at an altitude of near ~30’000 km ±~2’000 km. Perhaps simply the GPS* satellite (in the Fig. 5 of the paper) is the cause of the slightly curved path of the photons, the neutrinos, however, travelling strictly rectilinear.
    (*) Normally the altitude of the GPS satellites is in the range of ~20’200 – 20’500 km or so (allowing two rotations by sidereal day), and the geostationary satellites (ensuring one rotation by sidereal day) are at an altitude of 36’000 km.

  • Christophe

    Good idea, but the correct ratio for the GPS satellites is only 1.3 x 10-5… because the GPS satellites’ speed is not 8 km/s, but only ~3.9 km/s, because the GPS satellites are posted at an altitude of ~20’200 km, or a distance of the Earth center of ~26’600 km. They are travelling exactly in two rotations by sidereal days. In contrast, the geosynchronic (or geostationnary) satellites are posted at an altitude of 35’800 km, i.e. a distance of 42’200 km, and are travelling in one rotation by sidereal day at a velocity of ~3.1 km/s. You probably made a confusion with the ISS at ~376/390 km of altitude. Its velocity is near ~7.7 km/s, and its revolution is 1 h 32 min, i.e. with 15.62… and something revolutions per day.

  • I have not kept a strict record of my comments in this interesting blog, but I am almost sure that two or three of my comments have been deleted. It is regrettable if the reason for that is that the moderator did not like my ideas, or found a mistake in my thinking. My impression was that the neutrino puzzle was an occasion to thrash out all sorts of ideas, even unorthodox ones. Remember Niel Bohr’s exclamation about a theory not being crazy enough to be true!

  • Quantum Diaries

    Thanks for your feedback. We’ve looked into the issue, and your comments were in an “older comments” section that was hard to find. We’ve changed it so that all of the comments will display in a single page. The change should be visible in a few minutes.

  • Oops! You are right dear Quantum Diaries – apologies I did not remember that the comments are on two pages. I think some neutrinos must have zapped one or two neurons in my brain! 🙂

  • Victor Gudym

    In our opinion, the new experiments, where the neutrino velocity was measured, are not unexpected. The failure of the relativity theory in that concerning the light velocity is already revealed in the experiments on the electron-proton scattering (R Hofstadter, Rev. Mod. Phys. 28, 214 (1956)).
    Hofstadter studied the scattering of electrons with energies of 188 and 400 MeV. It is quite obvious that the velocity of electrons with such energies exceeds significantly the light velocity. But then nobody noticed that the distribution of scattered electrons corresponds strictly to the famous classical Rutherford formula.
    Hofstadter modified the Rutherford formula with the help of formulas of the relativity theory and made conclusion that only the relativity theory allowed one to explain the experiment.
    But we have recently shown (V.K. Gudym and E.V. Andreeva, Journal of Surface Investigation 1, 223 (2007), V.K. Gudym and E.V. Andreeva, Concepts of Physics IV, 553 (2007), V.K. Gudym and E.V. Andreeva, Concepts of Physics V, 435 (2008)) that another explanation is possible on the classical level without the use of the relativity theory. Respectively, no limiting velocity of particles exists.
    We believe that there is no sense to restrict themselves only by the experiments with neutrino. It is necessary to return to the study of the scattering of relativistic electrons, where the erroneousness of the relativity theory can be also demonstrated in a more clear way.

    V.K. Gudym

  • When I read the comments, I notice that many arguments still rest on the Theory of Relativity. I understand the relativistic inertia, but the experiment shows that this theory is false, and so it is E = mc ^ 2.

    This theoretical empty is refilling with relativist creed, that is quite human

    When I spoke of the Michelson-Morley experiment, I don’t speak of the ether,I simply said that the calculations were not correct and I cited where you could check (www.espacioytiempo.net). In sum, I am saying that resultant of this experiment obliges a deep revision and to rethink matters accepted resolved one hundred years ago.



  • peter berger

    most of the stuff posted here is too complicated for me to grasp. i’m not a scientist. on the other hand i love thinking about these issues with a free mind. going through these comments i have been wondering if any known physics theory still would be applicable inside a black hole. i suppose not. if a neutrino would be capable to travel through “black hole space” unaffected due to its lack of mass – it may account for the results measured in the opera experiment. my imagination tells me a black hole is a distracted time/space environment (according to the laws we know) and the space inside may appear compressed from the outside. assuming the neutrino came across a black hole during its travel path and passed through it, this would possibly explain the difference in the distance it traveled. this would also clarify George Djorgovski’s observation that neutrinos from Supernova 1987A didn’t move as fast, if we conclude these neutrino’s did not come accross a black hole. question remains where the supposed black hole came from and how long it existed. i would like to suggest it was invoked by the nature of the experiment itself and that it was very short lived.

  • I am not a nuclear physicist nor is an expert in the field. But let
    me share a concern I had for long. The solar neutrino problem requires
    neutrinos to change flavor when they propagate.This requires neutrinos
    to have mass and even if it is very very small, it still requires that
    it be traveling with a velocity less than c. It also requires that still being
    small, to be identified as different, each neutrino flavor has a
    different mass. Let me come to the point. In all branches of science that deal with
    electricity, we encounter the world of imaginary. You can’t explain a
    simple LC circuit without it. Assuming that the recent findings prove
    to be correct, and if neutrinos indeed travel at c’ greater than c, is their any
    theory that forbids them to flip their mass between real and imaginary
    states – may be with higher probability at certain energies? In that
    case, just like flipping their flavor, they can flip their masses as
    well and some can travel faster than light, some with speed of light
    and some slower than light. So it is no contradiction that you find
    neutrinos coming along with photons from a supernova -slightly before
    it or slightly after it depending on what energy they process.

  • Please read the following link along side with the above post.

  • Ano konečně někdo nakopnul tuhle teorii bohužel a bohudík konečně budou muset ty tAKZVANÝ FYZ. ŠPIČKY uznat že NEMAJÍ pravdu zahodte nobelovky, diplomy se udavte a koukejte konečně otevřít dveře opravdový fyzice. sem rád že se konečně dokázalo že světelená rychlost není hranice, už jen samotné černé díry dokážou světlo urychlit na nadsvětelnou rychlost už těsně před horizontem události…

  • Christopher Varnell

    I am not a physicist by any means, and I understand that there exists a plethora of calculations and physical principles which must be considered before formally claiming what I am about to. Is it possible that it is not special relativity that is on the line, but actually the law of conservation of energy, itself? I believe that the theory of special relativity depends on the law of conservation of energy in the universe. If that law is assumed to be true, then yes, these results disprove einstein’s theory. However, if you consider the law of conservation of energy to be false, then these results actually further verify einstein’s theory of special relativity. Because if the ‘event’ of this particle exceeding the speed of light causes a spike in the total amount of energy existing in the universe at that event, then spacetime folded at an arclength of 60 nanoseconds (relating time =distance). If that occurs, and two particular points in time become one at that specific event, then not only have we crossed into a different dimension of time, we have experienced it linearly relative to our frame of reference. Thus, special relativity holds true, while conservation of energy does not (within the dimension of time in which we exist). It is upsetting that special relativity is the theory being scrutinised, because I feel very strongly that it is, in fact, our beloved LAW of conservation which is inaccurate here. Please comment/respond.

  • ChrisV

    I also am no physicist. I do not have the appropriate background in mathematics or particle physics to solidly sustain this theory (or question if you prefer) I am about to present.
    I do not think that this particle’s behavior suggests an error in Einstein’s theory of special relativity, but rather an error in conservation of energy. I believe that the theory of special relativity very much depends on the law of conservation of energy in the universe, but can stand alone if an event like this occurs. If law of conservation of energy is assumed to be true, then yes, these results disprove einstein’s theory. However, if you consider the law of conservation of energy to be false, then these results actually further verify einstein’s theory of special relativity. Because if the ‘event’ (one of an infinite number of points on a timeline) of this particle exceeding the speed of light causes a spike in the total amount of energy existing in the universe at that event, such an occurrence suggests that spacetime (essentially a distance) folded at an arclength of 60 nanoseconds (relating time =distance). If that occurs, and two particular points in time (one preceding the other) become one single occurence at that specific event, then not only have we crossed into a different dimension of time, we have experienced it linearly, and relative to our frame of reference. Thus, special relativity holds true, while conservation of energy does not (within the dimension of time in which we exist). It is upsetting that special relativity is the theory being scrutinised, because I feel very strongly that it is, in fact, our beloved LAW of conservation which is inaccurate here. Please comment/respond.

  • ChrisV

    It is my speculation that the very fact that the neutrino exceeded the speed of light facilitates an immeasurable increase in energy at that differential event in time. That is to say, enough energy that the neutrino itself CREATED the black hole because it manifested that massive amount of energy. Since that neutrino is a part of our realm of observation, everything in it’s immediate vicinity (to even a cosmic degree) basically got sucked through the ‘wormhole’ into a parallel dimension of time, which we observe as being an instantaneous event (time appears continuous from a frame of reference contained within that time). My interpretation is that you and I, and every mass in the universe with observable light have been sucked through an interdimensional spike in energy into a parallel dimension. The incredible part is, that because time is continuous in our frame of reference, the ‘jump’ was never noticed, nor can it ever be proven. This may or may not be the case, but I’m just sayin’!

  • Bert Morrien

    About the data selection window.
    CNGS events are preselected by requiring that they fall within a
    window of ± 20 μs with respect to the SPS kicker magnet trigger-signal, delayed by the neutrino
    time of flight assuming the speed of light and corrected for the various delays of the timing
    systems at CERN and OPERA. The relative fraction of cosmic-ray events accidentally falling in
    this window is 10-4, and it is therefore negligible [1, 28].
    Ens Quote.

    Are the following assumptions correct:
    1. The number of cosmis ray events is 1e-4 times the total number of detected events.
    2. The data selection window is centered around the expected center of the event time distribution, so that cosmic ray events do not cause a shift in the result.

  • Bert Morrien

    Neutrino’s caused by cosnmic rays don’t seem to play any rule in the OPERA experiment.
    But what about possible other false events.
    When the proton beam of the LHC is kicked out of the ring it will not only hit the intended target but it slams also in everything else during the transients. Doing so may cause nuclear reactions that produce neutrinos which subsequently could be detected at the Italian site.
    The problem is that in this way the waveforms of the distribution of neutrinos and protons may differ.
    The question is if this effect is considered.

  • BertVE – Houston

    It’s not clear to me what time stamp is ultimately used by CERN but they list the timing delays at their end and compare it in a table to a previous experiment (CERN doc 1109.4897). The delta t from kicker magnet to WFD is 30nsec. Shouldn’t this be -30nsec since sign for the BCT delay is negative (-)? The final tally would be a 60nsec difference for a total of 1048nsec, erasing the 60nsec they found as discrepancy.

    The docs says that the time of flight starts when the waveform from the BCT kicks in. Therefore, to me it looks like the trigger runs parallel to timing and would therefore be of no importance at all, eliminating 30nsec. In that case it would just about fall inside the uncertainty of the system errors (+/- 7.4 nsec) to get back to “c”.

    Looking forward to your comments.


  • Dear Sirs,

    I sent s question but no reply up to date despit you inform “leave a reply” in you commenting policy. Should I expect one?

    José Carlos Piçarra

  • Quantum Diaries

    Thanks for your question, José. I think if you’ll read through the comments on the posts related to OPERA, you’ll find that there has been a lot of discussion similar to the question you asked. Our bloggers try to answer questions, but with nearly 200 comments, they’re not able to answer every question.

  • Fabio Elias

    One thing that came to my mind was the warp speed theory, and the idea of warping the space with gravity. Even with the relatively small mass of Earth, couldn’t the neutrinos be traveling in a slightly warped speed, through a slightly warped space?

  • Bert Morrien

    Is it feasible to publish the experimental data as proposed above and a way of returning and publish the result of alternative data analysis?
    I estimate this amounts to 16000 events <= 2e-6 with a resolution of 10 nS, 8 bytes each) plus as many PEWs (16000 times 1100 samples of 2 bytes), totalling less then 40 MB
    The event times could be shifted to enforce blind analysis.

  • grcator

    look at this letter about relativistic effects during atomic clock transfer (which they did in OPERA) – introduces delays of few nanoseconds easily, even tens of ns if “careful” 🙂 enough


  • davexx

    Qinfinity: Asi toho o fyzice a patrně i vědě vůbec moc nevíte. Jsem přesvědčený, že všichni dělají to, co mají a tak jak to mají dělat. Fyzika se zabývá fyzickým světem, takže těžko po ní chtít vysvětlení podstaty, která je mimo fyzický svět.
    A taky tohle není ani náhodou potvrzené a věřím, že to žádný skutečný vědec za potvrzené nemá. Novináři mají rádi senzace, takže ji z toho předčasně udělali.
    Co si představujete Vy pod “opravdovou fyzikou”?

  • Christophe

    Fabio ! Please, read my possible explanation (among other ones…) published here above on September 27, 2011 at 4:28 am !
    But… the assumption of BertVE-Houston, on September 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm seems to me very well founded.

  • craig bauer


    Relative Perspective. You all didn’t even need this experiment to figure this out. Think about your perspective of observation. how ‘fast’ something travels is a measure derived totally by the observer. look at the computer you are typing on, how fast is it moving? now step back into the solar system. how fast is it moving now? now step out of the galaxy, how fast now? point is, the vector of motion relative to perspective of observation will always create a variable. Every speed dynamic will come up as variable relative to the perspective of motion which measure’s it. This variable of observation, realted to hesisenburg;s principle, explains einstein wrong already by destroying any speed contsant that ever could be. i’ve know this since 2007 by simple obersavtion.

  • Arnold Layman

    Time dilation – because INFN is closer to the equator so is travelling faster than CERN on Earth rotation so the clock runs slower making c seem faster?

  • Christophe

    Neutrinos are mass particles. According to the relativity theory, if they have a high velocity (#c), for them the distance of the journey is shorter and more and more shorter if their velocity is near c.
    With the simple equations of the relativity one get for the travelling duration of the neutrinos:
    Tn = (L/Vn)(1-(Vn^2/c^2))^(1/2)
    Tn is 2.43928084 ms – 60.71 ns = 2.43922013 ms, the measured TOF of the neutrinos
    L = 731’278.00 m
    c = 299’792’458 m/s
    The unknown here is Vn, the velocity of the neutrinos.
    By simple transformation, one get :
    Vn = (L^2/(Tn^2 + (L^2/c^2)))^(1/2) = 211’987’918 m/s, i.e. 70.7% of c !
    The distance of the journey for the neutrinos is then 517’085.20 m.

    A conclusion :
    This OPERA event is the experimental demonstration that one can transmit material signals more quickly than the transmission of electromagnetic signals in spite of a velocity lower than c ; this is due to the fact that the distance is shorter for them.

  • Paul Logman

    I am not an expert but when I woke up last night I thought of something. Could the gravity field of the earth have something to do with the higher speed of the neutrinos. First thoughts made me think otherwise: the Earth gravitational field is lower under the surface which would mean time would pass faster than normal but then I came across http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EarthGravityPREM.jpg which shows that the gravitational field first rises and only then diminishes whilst travelling towards the center of the earth. Calculating this change in gravitational acceleration I came to 9.82 m/s^2 at 11.4 km underneath the surface and 9,80 m/s^2 at the surface of the Earth which results in a dg/g of 0.0018795. I have not been able to calculate the time dilatation caused by this over the distance travelled by the neutrinos but perhaps this might account for the higher speed of the neutrinos due to the slowing of time due to the higher gravitational field. This can also be seen as a smaller than one diffraction coefficient for neutrinos in the upper surface of the Earth. And that in its turn may explain neutrinos travelling from a supernova ‘faster than the speed of light’ through dense planets and stars on its path.
    I could not find whether the program has compensated for this change in gravitational field travelling from CERN to OPERA due to its depth underneath the surface of the Earth. Does anybody know of such compensations ?

  • Paul Logman

    The neutrinos will actually curve a little deeper into the Earth because that will give them a shorter travelling time and probably like light neutrinos will take the shortest path in time to get somewhere. This creates an even slightly larger effect added upon the earlier mentioned effect.

  • minhhoadn

    I am sure that if the experiment using photons, the velocity of photons will also larger than the velocity itself
    I can prove wrong experiment

  • Rob Sherratt

    Very interesting experimental results, and congratulations to all at CERN for the painstaking work that has gone into this. If indeed neutrinos travel faster than light, is it also conceivable that they have “negative mass” and give rise to an “antigravity” effect? I understand that neutrino “mass” measurements actually measure mass squared, so the actual mass could be either positive or negative.

  • John B Lynch

    As an ant, my view of the universe is limited to the boot that pulverises me! Taking this analogy let us suppose that rather than finites we should be exploring infinites! Our view is that what we see and have scientifically discerned; we are a small speck in the visible universe, so is our understanding of it. I submit that instead of trying to prove or disprove we should start using our imaginations. Photons (light) has, apparently, a finite speed but, Einstien didn’t say that – he only postulated the speed that light travels. Does that matter if you can’t see light but, your imagination can travel to the farthest reaches of the universe instantly! Being earthbound and not knowing what happens next is hell. Think about it!

    I see string theory as harmonics of music, Light as artistry, movement (of heavenly bodies) as choreography and mass as sculpture and infinity as the playground which keeps us from being bored. Are these enough hints?

  • JOLinton

    As I understand it, Einstein developed the Special Theory of Relativity by asking himself the question ‘what would the world look like if you could travel at the speed of light?’ He came to the conclusion that it was necessary to adopt the following fundamental principles.
    The laws of physics are the same for observers in different inertial frames
    The speed of light is the same for observers in different inertial frames
    (I have always taken the view that the second statement is simply a special case of the first but most authors state it as an independent principle.)

    Evidence for the second principle already existed in the form of the Michelson-Morley experiment and evidence for the consequences of the theory such as time dilation etc etc soon followed making the theory one of the best tested theories of all time.

    But how accurate have these tests been? The speed of light has been measured to an accuracy of better than 1 part in 10^8 but how accurately has the constant c in Einsteins equations been measured? and on what theoretical basis do we assume that the speed of light in vacuo is equal to c?

    Could it be that the constant c in Einsteins equations is, in fact, a little larger than the velocity of light in vacuuo?

    What would be the consequences of ascribing a value to c 0.002% greater than the measured speed of light? It would mean that photons would have a tiny mass – but that is no more improbable than the idea that neutrinos have mass. In all other respects, the experiments which detect large relativistic effects (eg the increase in mass of high energy electrons etc.) would be in error by no more than 0.002%. Experiments which rely on merely large speeds (eg the expected phase shift in a M-M interferometer, time dilation in GPS satellites, precession of planetary orbits etc.) would be affected by incomparably smaller amounts.

    Can someone provide me with a simple reason why c has to be exactly equal to the speed of light in vacuo? What, in short, is so special about light?

  • Nigel Battley

    Steven is quite right it would be funny, but I also think not likely.

    He does make good mention of the word “Time” – This is time as we currently know it, time it takes for the earth to revolve, to navigate a path round the sun. This is “earth time” and we use it to measure everything, but how does “earth time” compare to universal time or even cosmos time?

    1987A was observed from Earth, measured to Earth. But the Earth is moving, the universe expanding in all directions. This itself throws up – is there an edge of the universe, where is it expanding too, will it eventually pop? (Like a balloon) is the universe expansion constant or is it even a relevant within the laws of physics?

    The distance travelled was terrestrial through rock, minerals, vacuum, or air pockets? Do we know exactly what?

    As several mention within these threads, earth curavture V straight line.

    How do we know that the speed of light is the fastest speed anyway, it is up until now, whether it can be proved beyond all doubt is another matter, or even anti-matter, for that matter?

    I hope that all the above have been asked, answered and taken into account. The minds working on this are most likely greater than mine – I’m just an observer here, but interested and try to look from outside the box.

    There appear to be so many variants to consider that it is possible that this will never be agreed without further similar experiments with comparable results. But Good effort everyone for trying.

    The time differential of 2ns is so small that it may be explained away, but I do believe that we are on the brink of proving “old” physics laws are flawed! Keep up the most excellent work.


    Is it possible that there is a Relativistic shift in the Earth’s gravity field due to the mass equivalent of its kinetic energy ( daily rotation plus its orbital trajectory ? ) I get about 8 billion tons equivalent ( 7.017 x 10 power 29 joules ).I am inexpert and stand to be corrected.
    Would there arise an appropriate time dilation due to a stronger gravity field ?
    Would a false timing arise for the Neutrino trip of 730.085 kilometers ?

  • Novum

    It seems they are not convinced that the time gap is relative to the travelled distance. Is this not something that is easy to check?
    If the distance is twice as long, is the gap then also twice as large?

  • Tiak

    I was thinking the same thing. Distance over land is not the same as distance through land. In other words, overland travel might be 750Km, but due to curvature and elevation changes, the through land distance might only be 740km. But, it sounds like they have accounted for that.

  • Valère Vermijl

    Is it not better to explain the experiment with the neutrino’s with the non-euclidic mathematics from Lobačevskiĭ and Boylai instead the eucledic one that we learn at school.
    If we work with particles as neutrino’s at such a high velocity, man
    could think that postulate 5 from Euclides is no longer valid while we are now working in a spherical or hyperbolic environment, like earth or space.
    After all math is a tool for explaining the environment. And if one tool does not work, people mostly use another one to do the job.
    So is it not better for scientists which work with the relativity theory to change from mathematical system and use consequently the non-euclidic math from Lobačevskiĭ,Boylai, and Gauss, the latest has written some articles about this problem, but didn’t publish it. I think when we work out the experiment in this way, people could discover things we can’t find in the classic math.

  • Petr

    Dear all,

    I am a physics dilletante.
    What if c should not be speed of light in vacuum but speed of the neutrino?

  • Christian

    The solution for me it’s easy. The whole universe moves! The neutrinos traveled a shorter distance than expected because the universe moved to them (direction of movement).

  • Cyrus

    Schoolboy approch:

    The particle ‘s spin is partially absorbed by the hole vacated by the particle which is due to sympathetic velocity absorption. Cy

    Let’s assume the following argument: On a pool table; a pool stick strikes the cue ball with a specified ENGLISH. The target ball struck by the cue ball has received angular displacement and goes in the desired pocket. However, the cue ball instead of remaining in place due to opposite and equal reaction, continues to roll in a different direction with a degraded spin with a slight wobble because of the absorbed energy of deflection caused by lateral acceleration and being crtical-path restrained by the resistance of the cloth/slate/gravity on the surface of the table. Cy

  • Ignacio fernandez

    Well the fact that something fly to a speed superluminal , we say als a joke that yeaah it is a speed faster than light is the mind speed , i am sure that in the future gonna be surpraises about,but nothing to do whit to refute Einsteins, theories and concepts that have open the door for the whole understanding of physics and the universe , i always though that, he was a kind of iluminated,who see the whole , and had problems to explained and demostration , but he could , searching concepts founding the law , making also his own , when necessary , just founding the way 1oo years ago , not easy my super luminal (fantastic word) respect Mr Albert where ever you are many thanks .

  • Ignacio fernandez

    Im with you friend also understandit als giagantic dance , think aprox like you , data and truth complex , maybe can youtell me why they want destroy Einsteins ??? , from when i begon to se physics they are trying to submit his example , is like the crisis always has been one since i can remenber any way salutes , though you think in my way .excuse my English .

  • Ignacio fernandez

    Yeah the worm holds , tell you they have it account als posibility.

  • Ignacio fernandez

    Of course minds hole , worm hole , oooh my english.

  • deus

    In 1905, Albert Einstein postulated that the speed of light with respect to any inertial frame is independent of the motion of the light source.
    OK but the motion of the detector?
    A series of one-way measurements were undertaken, all of them confirming the isotropy of the speed of light. However, it is to be noticed that ONLY THE TWO-WAY SPEED OF LIGHT (from A to B back to A) was directly measured. (till now)

    I think the detector was moving (universally) toward the point neutrinos was created

  • Robert Ezergailis

    Why has everyone forgotten the basic fundamental issue concerning speed of light in a vacuum, versus speed of neutrinos through solid rock. Now what you have to do to
    resolve the debate as to whether neutrinos exceed the alleged
    universal speed limit is to set up a race between light and
    neutrinos through the same medium. Not vacuum versus solid
    matter, such as solid rock. What is the speed of neutrinos
    in a vacuum ? Of course the Icarus experiment indicates that
    neutrinos ought to exceed the speed of light, in a vacuum.

  • According to my understanding, the concepts and mathematical apparatus of the Theory of Relativity are insufficient. “It is not only insufficient at superluminal speeds, nor offers precision to calculate the position of a mobile to speed c/3 as demonstrated in http://espacioytiempo.net/en/inexactitude-of-lorentz-transformation/
    A counterexample is enough to demonstrate the error of a theory.
    Greetings. Javier

  • Really interesting and complex information. Thanks Christine for your work

  • Menelom

    Yes … the design is clearly needed to be changed 🙂
    What would be brighter , nebudu (

  • Matteo

    I’ve read carefully your article INCONSISTENCY OF LORENTZ TRANSFORMATION.pdf
    Should the observer take into account the Doppler Effect would say 100000km/h.

  • Great post! Thanks.

  • Matteo, thanks for your interest. As you say, to calculate a course as simple as example as simple as the one of a wagon crossing quickly a station, we have to introduce new considerations that are not considered by the transformations of Galileo or Lorentz . But this judgment implicitly admits that the Lorentz Transformation is not correct and that has not resolved the problem quantitatively and conceptually.
    I understand that the “Transformations of Place” resolve the relationship between an observer and a mobile and that all of Einstein’s relativistic physics is immersed in a terrible mistake.
    Greetings. Francisco.