Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Puzzle Solved Using Special Relativity and GPS Correction, Claims Scientist

Special Relativity may have saved itself from disaster. According to a scientist, the OPERA collaboration overlooked a crucial correction to the result, which exactly matches the discrepancy observed. It involved the effect of time dilation of the clocks aboard the GPS satellite.

Faster Than Light Neutrino Article Here:

The two frames

Ronald Van Elburg says that the two frames of reference the Gran Sasso laboratory on the ground and the clocks on the GPS satellite in orbit around the Earth – are in relative motion with respect to each other and thus special relativity effects come into the picture. The time of flight, thus, needs to be corrected for this factor too.

The paper on arXiv:

Van Elburg explains:

From the perspective of the clock, the detector is moving towards the source and consequently the distance travelled by the particles as observed from the clock is shorter

Magnitude of the Effect

Now, for the crucial magnitude of this effect. Van Elburg presents the analysis which shows that this timing should account for 32 ns for the time of flight. Further, this happens at CERN as well as the Gran Sasso Lab in Italy and thus, the number has to be doubled, yielding 64 ns, which exactly compensates the noticed discrepancy of 60 ns.

This solution has recently been released and is yet to be verified properly. The effect seems too obvious and it seems unlikely that OPERA has not taken it into account. OPERA has not responded as yet.

A theoretical attack on the results

Recently, there has been a theoretical attack on the experimental result by Sheldon Glashow (Nobel Laureate, Physics) and his Boston University colleague, Andrew Cohen. They dismiss the results by showing that if the result were true, no high energy neutrino would reach the detector at Gran Sasso. The fact that they detect high energy neutrino (above 12.5 GeV)  means that the neutrinos are not travelling faster than light. This is not an experimental result, but a theoretical bound.

We’ll just have to wait and watch. The van Elburg paper is a pre-print and is not yet peer-reviewed.

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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.