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Faster Than Light Neutrinos Are Not Actually Faster Than Light

by | 19th, October 2011

LOTS of scientists getting very excited a few weeks back as CERN announced that it had found some faster than light neutrinos. Something which all that Einstein stuff had said couldn’t happen and thus we’ve just found out that atom bombs don’t go bang, we’d have missed the Moon landing by a mile or two and computers no longer work.

Except, of course, all of those things did and do happen which is why actually, it wasn’t the scientists who got all that excited. They muttered “Hmm, measurement error, now, I wonder which one?” while everyone who wasn’t a scientist got all excited.

As it turns out we’ve now got a couple of scientists pointing to what was the measurement error. Independently of each other too: no, two people coming up with the same explanation doesn’t mean they’re right, not necessarily, but two people independently coming up with the same idea does give us some confidence in the logic. They’re here and here.

Without going into the details which neither you nor I truly understand, what they’re both saying is that, well, umm, if you’re using GPS to measure the time and or distance that these neutrinos travel, and the GPS satellites are 23,000 miles up there and the neutrinos are down here, then Einstein himself (OK, his theories) says that as a result of relativity you’re be measuring the speed or time of arrival of those neutrinos out by, ooooh, about 60 nanoseconds or some such.

The time by which the neutrinos were measured to be faster than light by? 60 nanoseconds or so. So, far from this result being a disproof of Einstein’s work, it looks like we can only understand it as a result of using Einstein’s theories.

My own proof that it was a measurement error was much simpler. If neutrinos are travelling faster than light (for boring complicated reasons) then this means we can have time travel. Obviously, the first use of time travel would be to get the scientists who had it back in time to buy lottery tickets after they knew what the winning numbers were. So, if neutrinos travel faster than light then we should see all the people at CERN winning lotteries: as we don’t see that then neutrinos don’t travel faster than the speed of light, QED.



Posted: 19th, October 2011 | In: Technology Comments (4) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink