Can neutrinos travel Faster Than Light

Subir Sarkar, head of particle theory at Oxford University, explained eloquently to the Guardian the significance of OPERA’s research. "If this is proved to be true it would be a massive, massive event. It is something nobody was expecting.

“The constancy of the speed of light… underpins causality, which is the fact that cause comes before effect. Cause cannot come after effect and that is absolutely fundamental to our construction of the physical universe. If we do not have causality, we are buggered.”

I just don’t see why we can’t say that the speed of light wasn’t the actual limit. perhaps the speed of neutrinos are the true cosmic speed limit. Obviously things must travel faster than the speed of light given that ‘stuff’ does escape from Black Holes. Don’t those jets of plasma that escape from the center of a Black Hole have to travel faster than light?

It’s possible, however that would mean a massive photon, changes to electromagnetic theory, QED, etc. As Chtonos points out though the magnitude of changes needed may’ve already been ruled out by experiments measuring the upper bound of the photon’s mass.

At this point in time I would say “wait and see”. Whilst everything in science is falsifiable, when you have an observation like this that seemingly goes against the grain of much of established physics, the best counsel is to approach the result with caution. You don’t want to throw out a lot of good physics over a systematic error say.

And on black holes:

No the ‘stuff’ that ‘comes out’ of a balck hole does nto travel faster than the speed of light. The jets you talk of actually come from the accretion disk outside ofg the black hole’s event horizon.

From my limited understanding, the plasma jets emanating from a black hole are “merely” escaping the gravity well and not the singularity itself. So, no, the jets are not traveling faster than light.

These are my own pants posted at the same time I did, but his post arrived first. More proof! :wink:

My understanding of particle physics is limited, but I would say this proves that neutrinos can travel at the same speed as light, not that they can’t travel faster.

would this explain why the GPS route planner always thinks I should make a U-turn on a oneway drive?

The phenomenon remains the same, regardless of whether humans understand it or not. It’s like saying “Our understanding of gravity is wrong. Without gravity, we’re all going to die!”

No, what he is saying is that if correct this may pull the rug from underneath our current understanding of the universe.

If I’ve done the maths right and have the right information the neutrino discrepancy was 60 ns over the distance given, a 0.000025 in 1 difference from the speed of light. Applying that to 1987a’s distance of 168000 light years we get a difference of 4.2 years. So either the supralumial neutrinos result is wrong, or supernovas don’t send out neutrinos but 4.2 year old supernova remnants do, or neutrinos only go faster through planetary crusts.

Still, that’s a good thing. If this pans out, it means we are no longer buggered, because we’re now on the right track instead of clinging to a “law” that is false.

Maybe the Earth happened to heading against the ether when they took the measurement?

Which is *always *a good thing. Scientists like to be right, but it’s better for science when they’re wrong.

Here is the first media skeptic I have been able to find who invokes science:

Neutrino Blog

Apparently there is a big discrepancy with inferred speed of neutrinos emitted
by Supernova 1987a, as in approx. one year:

(from link)

That’s totally illogical, so it would be better if scientists were always wrong?

I do not understand were you are coming from, like I say let’s wait and see before making bold statements.

Well what we really need is for an other SN1987a to happen while 3 or more neutrino experiments are active. Then we can use the distance between detectors to determine actual vs. expected arrival times.

Here’s a New Scientist articleon the subject.

With over 15,000 attempts, and given that the discrepancy was 60ns when the margin of error is 10ns, this could be significant. Either that or there’s a fundamental flaw in the experiment, which seems more likely, but who knows.

Like others have asked, what practical applications are there for this, assuming it’s true? I mean it’s ‘only’ 7.4km/s faster than c, so it’s not like we could send a message to Alpha Centauri and have it arrive in a few months. How could this be used to interrupt causality? Or would it just mean a slightly faster version of this

Regarding the neutrinos from Supernova 1987a, they wouldn’t know if some neutrinos arrived 4 +/- 1 years early. They only know that some arrived when expected. There could be neutrinos obeying the speed limit, and others traveling faster.

I’m not sure how you’d theoretically get two discrete speeds, but that would (IMHO) seem to be an easier problem than FTL neutrinos in the first place.