Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Best Case So Far For OPERA Experimental Error

A recent pre-print argues that the apparent superluminal speed of neutrinos observed at the OPERA experiment arises from a subtle miscalibration of the clocks at CERN and OPERA via GPS satellites (due to a relativistic correction proportional to the distance between the two clocks on Earth), with a calculated effect size of 58 nanoseconds which is basically consistent with a 62+/-3 nanosecond difference between the observed time to cover the distance in question and the expected time at the canonical value of the speed of light.

This leaves us with the rather boring conclusion (because it entails no new physics) that the OPERA neutrinos produced at CERN were simply going at their expected speed, given their known total combined kinetic and rest mass energies (deducted from "missing energy" in collider experiments), of approximately the speed of light minus one part per 10^9, rather than their originally announced speed of the speed of light plus one part per 10^5.

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