Neutrino Findings Wrong – How Science Works

Well I hate to admit that I was right but….

Suggestions from some of my Physics students reached fever pitch that the world they were in would fall apart it seems that the boffins got it wrong and Einstein’s relativity theory was wrong after all this time.

In fact the team doing the research got it wrong twice and my students and half the world was sucked it. I firmly stuck to my idea that they must have a systematic error in their equipment. Such theories are not lightly changed and what concerned me mostly is that even if the particles did travel faster than light this was presented as a fact but where was the theory for why they would travel faster than light! This seemed to be a more important question as for everything else we know things that have mass can never travel that fast. Hence, cannot be true!

Usually in Physics there is an obvious reason for everything.

So it also appears that they two problems which would have had opposing effects on the apparent speed.


Problem 1

On the one hand, the team said there is a problem in the “oscillator” that provides a ticking clock to the experiment in the intervals between the synchronisations of GPS equipment.

This is used to provide start and stop times for the measurement as well as precise distance information.

That problem would increase the measured time of the neutrinos’ flight, in turn reducing the surprising faster-than-light effect.

Problem 2

The team also said they found a problem in the optical fibre connection between the GPS signal and the experiment’s main clock – quite simply, a cable not quite fully plugged in.

In contrast, the team said that effect would increase the neutrinos’ apparent speed.


How Science Works

The team had carried out their measurements for more than three years, exhaustively scrutinising their methods and analysis before announcing the results last year – so why had they not found these issues before?

“It’s sometimes very difficult to tell whether this thing could have been done before – because in a sense the answer is always yes,” said Sergio Bertolucci, director of research at Cern.

Prof Bertolucci outlined the complexity both of the experiment and the analysis of the results, stressing that the hunt for just these kinds of problems had been relentless.

“Their constant search for systematic (errors) has never stopped, for more than a year.”

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