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.
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