Faulty GPS Explains Light-Speed Neutrinos

The European physics lab OPERA, which claimed to have tracked neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light, has recanted. It says a bad GPS connection produced erroneous results.

What's the Latest Development?

The European physics laboratory which claimed to have observed neutrinos traveling faster than light-speed has now identified two possible sources of error in the experiment. Both are related to the use of GPS to synchronize atomic clocks at each end of its neutrino beam. "First, the passage of time on the clocks between the arrival of the synchronizing signal has to be interpolated and OPERA now says this may not have been done correctly. Second, there was a possible faulty connection between the GPS signal and the OPERA master clock."

What's the Big Idea?

When the OPERA lab first released their results, they were immediately met with widespread skepticism from the scientific community. Were the neutrinoselectrically neutral subatomic particlesto have traveled faster than the speed of light, a major portion of Einstein's theory of general relativity would have been overturned. While physicists work to confirm the GPS errors, an American physics lab, Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, will try to make their own "independent measurement of the speed of neutrinos, with initial results expected later this year."

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

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