FTL Neutrinos?

The physics world is abuzz today, as a group of CERN scientists have announced evidence of faster than light neutrinos. They had a formal webcast earlier today, based on this paper. Though it may not be ready until Sunday, I fully intend to read that paper start to finish and give a complete report on the contents here on Bureau 42. In the meantime, let the discussion commence!

9 replies on “FTL Neutrinos?”

  1. Isn’t it more a cause of “Hm, this shouldn’t be happening, but we can’t find our error – can you help us find it?” :)

  2. If the result is confirmed, I’m expecting theorists to chant “weak eigenfunction… matter effects… weak eigenfunction… matter effects…” and magically explain the result while preserving relativity. And it’ll work, because those guys are good at what they do.

    Obviously this doesn’t “break” GR, even if it’s true; we’ve been testing it heavily for a hundred years. If GR is missing something, it’s extremely subtle.

    And if this result were universally true, apparently the burst of neutrinos from supernova 1987a would have arrived years earlier than the light from the explosion; instead it was a difference of hours. (From the summary in Nature.) So if it’s true there’s a lot more going on here.

  3. Check my facebook for lots of discussion by physicists Blaine. And on SN1987A, it’s an interesting comparison, but one should keep in mind that our models for core-collapse supernovae don’t even explode. Perhaps there’s something missing there. One can probably increase those error bars drastically, within the error of our “getting supernovae to explode” problem.

    • From what I understand, the not-exploding problem is related more to problems with coupling constants and understanding of nuclear physics, particularly the production probabilities and decay rates of some of these short-lived isotopes that get created during the process. (That’s a major part of what the ISAC facility at TRIUMF does, actually.)

      • The not-exploding problem (in my opinion) is caused by theorists doing calculations well outside the valid regime of their approximation. In this case, it’s specifically hydrodynamics, and (ignored) non-equilibrium effects. We better theories, not more digits on odd isotope decays. The one theory that does get exploding supernovae does so by drastically increasing the interaction rate of neutrinos! (which is totally not valid)

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