New results from CERN today would appear to confirm that last year’s findings by the OPERA experiment which appeared to suggest that neutrinos could travel faster than light were incorrect. A faulty element of the experiment’s fiber optic timing system has been cited by CERN as a likely cause for the error.
As we previously reported, the OPERA collaborative experiment which joins CERN scientists with their counterparts located 730 km (or 454 miles) away at Italy's Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS), found that neutrons sent from the former to the latter location appeared to reach their destination 60 nanoseconds sooner than photon light particles. If true, this would seem to contradict Einstein's restricted theory of relativity, which famously states that nothing can travel faster than light in a vacuum and is the basis for much of modern physics.
Despite repeating the process 15,000 times with consistent findings, the OPERA team cautioned skepticism until the results could be independently verified and invited scientists to investigate the study’s findings.
In order to arrive at these new results, the flight of neutrinos passing once again from CERN to the Gran Sasso Laboratory was measured, this time with four separate experiments, Borexino, ICARUS, LVD and OPERA. On this occasion, each of the experiments provided results which were consistent with the speed of light having not been exceeded. The episode apparently brings to a close one of the more exciting potential findings deriving from the CERN laboratory which hosts over two thousand full-time employees.
Appearing at the 25th International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics in Kyoto, CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci spoke of his anticipation of receiving such findings:
“Although this result isn’t as exciting as some would have liked,” said Bertolucci, “it is what we all expected deep down.