Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Time to Ditch Those Faster-than-Light Ideations!

Albert Einstein: Proven right yet again!

Readers will recall in a previous blog to do with the claimed CERN detection of superluminal or faster-than the speed of light neutrinos, I showed that if this were so then it would require the enhanced mass (i.e. over the rest mass) to be imaginary, as well as the associated kinetic energy. See, e.g. the very end of:

I also noted in a later blog:

that much more plausible than that the CERN team actually created FTL- imaginary mass neutrinos, is that they're having made assorted systematic or other errors they didn't detect.

I then noted the sort of corrections that would need to be made, or factored in, for these CERN FTL results to hold up.

Now it appears I was correct, and that a number of measurement "balls" were dropped that were never recognized at the time. This was reported in today's WSJ ('NO, You still can't travel faster than light', p. A13). Among the errors documented since last month:

1) A "carefully calibrated oscillator" used to synchronize the two clocks that assessed the neutrino flight duration was actually itself miscalibrated. Thus the two endpoint clocks, one at CERN and the other in Italy were out of step.

2) The fiber optic cable that linked the GPS satellite used to measure the distance from CERN (in Switzerland) to Italy was evidently loose, which would have introduced errors into the distance measurement, d, which needed to be incredibly precise. (I.e. accuracy of the measurement far exceeding the magnitude of the uncertainty in v.)

The errors (1) and (2) alone would easily have increased the velocity of the neutrinos by 20 parts per million, thereby accounting for the discrepancy reported of 20 pts. per 10^6.

But that isn't all! Apparently an independent group last week "redid the entire experiment and found that Einstein was correct all along: the neutrinos traveled precisely at the speed of light, and not faster or slower".

The moral of the story is clearly to take with a grain of salt any unusual or highly unorthodox results, until they are independently confirmed. In the case of the FTL neutrinos the results didn't make sense from the get-go since as I showed (first link above) they'd have required an imaginary mass for the FTL objects. Since no one has ever measured or determined such before, it made sense that this premature result was bollocks and that a more prosaic miscalculation or miscalibration of the instruments explained them.

And so it has evidently been found!

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