24 February 2012

CERN Update: Faster Than Speed of Light May Be Due To Hardware Fault

18 March 2012
CERN UPDATE: ICARUS Experiment Indicate Neutrino Speed Consistent With Speed Of Light

CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) released a statement noting that their OPERA experiment revealing neutrinos travelling faster than light may be due to errors in their devices.

The short statement attributes to the error to:

1. An Oscillator responsible for time stamps to the GPS synchronization
2. A disfunctional optical fiber connector

CERN will recalibrate and observe these two devices when they resume OPERA experiments in May 2012.

CERN Released the following announcement:

The OPERA collaboration has informed its funding agencies and host laboratories that it has identified two possible effects that could have an influence on its neutrino timing measurement. These both require further tests with a short pulsed beam. If confirmed, one would increase the size of the measured effect, the other would diminish it. The first possible effect concerns an oscillator used to provide the time stamps for GPS synchronizations. It could have led to an overestimate of the neutrino's time of flight. The second concerns the optical fibre connector that brings the external GPS signal to the OPERA master clock, which may not have been functioning correctly when the measurements were taken. If this is the case, it could have led to an underestimate of the time of flight of the neutrinos. The potential extent of these two effects is being studied by the OPERA collaboration. New measurements with short pulsed beams are scheduled for May.

Video: Interview of OPERA's spokespersons

In the experiment, particles called neutrinos are sent through the Earth's crust from CERN in Geneva towards Italy at the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away. The experiment is named OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Tracking Apparatus).

The first OPERA experiment used longer bunches of neutrinos which others thought could result in errors in measuring the speed. Those bunches lasted 10 millionths of a second. This time, OPERA used shorter bunches at just 3 billionths of a second long.

When the scientists at CERN took the measurements this time, they found it similar to the first experiment. The neutrinos were travelling 60 billionths of a second faster than light speed.

Related Links

CERN Press Release
CERN UPDATE: ICARUS Experiment Indicate Neutrino Speed Consistent With Speed Of Light
Follow Up Report on OPERA Faster Than Light Particles
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