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New Scientist’s response to faster than light neutrinos: Claim bolstered

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In “Faster-than-light neutrino claim bolstered” (New Scientist, September 23, 2011), Lisa Grossman notes,

Representatives from the OPERA collaboration spoke in a seminar at CERN today, supporting their astonishing claim that neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light.

The result is conceptually simple: neutrinos travelling from a particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland arrived 60 nanoseconds too early at a detector in the Gran Sasso cavern in Italy. And it relies on three conceptually simple measurements, explained Dario Autiero of the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Lyon: the distance between the labs, the time the neutrinos left Switzerland, and the time they arrived in Italy.

Here comes the horseshoe:

But only time will tell whether the result holds up to additional scrutiny, and whether it can be reproduced . There is still room for uncertainty in the neutrinos’ departure time, Plunkett says, because there is no neutrino detector on CERN’s end of the line. The only way to know when the neutrinos left is to extrapolate from data on the blob of protons used to produce them.

Stay tuned.

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