Maybe Neutrinos Aren’t Faster Than Light

Remember the hot news from a few months ago? We first wrote about it here: Neutrinos Move Faster Than Light? Our last update was Neutrinos & the Speed of Light — 18 Nov ’11, when CERN ran the experiment again and got the same result.

But now it seems that Einstein can rest in peace, and all the creationists who were so thrilled can go back to picking on Darwin. As reported at the website of Science, published by AAAS, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Error Undoes Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

It appears that the faster-than-light neutrino results, announced last September by the OPERA collaboration in Italy, was due to a mistake after all. A bad connection between a GPS unit and a computer may be to blame.

A bad connection? The whole world got excited because of that? Here’s more:

Physicists had detected neutrinos travelling from the CERN laboratory in Geneva to the Gran Sasso laboratory near L’Aquila that appeared to make the trip in about 60 nanoseconds less than light speed. Many other physicists suspected that the result was due to some kind of error, given that it seems at odds with Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which says nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. That theory has been vindicated by many experiments over the decades.

Yes, we know all that. There’s only one more paragraph to the story:

According to sources familiar with the experiment, the 60 nanoseconds discrepancy appears to come from a bad connection between a fiber optic cable that connects to the GPS receiver used to correct the timing of the neutrinos’ flight and an electronic card in a computer. After tightening the connection and then measuring the time it takes data to travel the length of the fiber, researchers found that the data arrive 60 nanoseconds earlier than assumed. Since this time is subtracted from the overall time of flight, it appears to explain the early arrival of the neutrinos.

We were skeptical from the start, but we didn’t think it would end this ignominiously. They conclude with this:

New data, however, will be needed to confirm this hypothesis.

When the final word is announced, we’ll let you know.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Maybe Neutrinos Aren’t Faster Than Light

  1. We need Jason Lilse to jump in and explain that Neutrinos travel faster-than-light only through a loose connection.

  2. Actually, neutrinos do travel faster than the speed of light but it wasn’t meant to be discovered in this century. So, I went back in time and loosened the connection to throw them off the trail.

    And Jason Lisle? Well, I guess there’s no harm in telling y’all that the discoverer of the Lisle Effect which finally enabled warp-speed space travel created the Time Distortion Equation by accidentally pouring salt in his coffee which caused him to spew it on the tablecloth whereupon the coffee droplets formed the mathematical symbols in their proper order. Years later National Academy of Sciences President Emeritus, Dr. Dr. Dembski pronounced the serendipitous discovery one of the most improbable examples of specified complexity he had ever seen.

  3. Quit it Doc, you’ll make Mt. Dew shoot out Gary’s nose again. ;-)

  4. I’ve got nothing to add to what Doc Bill said.

  5. @TA: Too late! It already happened! (Dang, that hurts. Pardon me while I go get a rag to clean this mess up.)
    @Doc Bill: Well done! VERY well done!
    @SC: Thanks for posting this. I’ve been keenly interested. I’d also make some points:
    1) From the get-go, the scientists who obtained the alleged faster-than-light data stated, “We are unsure of our results”, and only published them in order to allow the broader community to look them over. Thrice. When was the last time that any creationist / IDer has stated about one of their “experiments”, “Hey, look this over and tell me if I’m wrong.”
    2) If the original scientists (and I mean that sincerely since these were real, honest-to-God scientists) were wrong, the DI and AiG and all of the other creationists / IDers will still use this as ammo. They’ll simply point at it and say, “See! See! They were wrong! Darwinian science is always wrong! We, on the other hand, are never wrong!” (See point #1 above.)
    3) They probably have found the problem (loose fiber optic connection), but they’ve not confirmed it. That will have to wait until they run another batch of tests to check the neutrino speed. The science isn’t done yet, but it does look promising that they’ve found the glitch.

  6. Ceteris Paribus

    The Neutrinos? Wasn’t that the name of a 16th century doo-wop quartet that often played at the Vatican?

  7. Note to self: Before using time machine, check to see that all connections are tight.

  8. Thanks, jdg. Maybe I’ll post something about that later today.

  9. About the statement by Corbett that creationism was superstitious nonsense, the court wrote:

    “The Court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context. The statement therefore constitutes improper disapproval of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.”

    Doesn’t this mean that the court is agreeing that creationism is religion?

  10. @TomS Yes but that has always been the courts position ever since it was asked to rule on it.

  11. Thanks Tomato Addict – I thought the Dilbert cartoon was simply brilliant!

  12. Warlock Asylum

    The idea of traveling faster than the speed of light was known to ancient scientist and modern occultists for quite some time:

    enjoy the day

  13. Tomato Addict

    @Curmie: I have to say, you have really been attracting a higher (that is, lower) class of conspiralunacreationist since the Coppedge trial started. You must be doing something right. :-)

  14. Tomato Addict says: “I have to say, you have really been attracting a higher (that is, lower) class of conspiralunacreationist”

    Yes, I’m very proud of the quality of our creationists.

  15. And Curmy hit the ban button so quickly – we were just getting started with the fun!!! :-)

  16. Douglas E said:

    we were just getting started with the fun!!! :-)

    Don’t worry. There will be others.

  17. Ah yes, sad but true!