The announcement made headlines around the world, since it appears to contradict Einstein's special theory of relativity. However, not everyone within OPERA was happy to release the results publicly, with several of the 30 group leaders within the 160-strong collaboration being opposed to the release of a paper on the arXiv preprint server and the accompanying seminars and press release without further tests of possible systematic errors being carried out. Now, a larger fraction of the group leaders is concerned about the paper being submitted to a research journal. One member of OPERA, who does not wish to be named, says there is a "lot of tension" within the collaboration and that up to half of the members are opposed to an immediate submission.This article pointed out two possible issues with the OPERA analysis, and these are the two issues that have bothered many who have read the preprint.
One such check regards the timing of the neutrinos' arrival at Gran Sasso, and involves carrying out an analysis of timing data collected by monitoring the charge, rather than the light, generated by particles passing through the detector. This analysis relies on a very precise and painstaking measurement of the length of the cabling used to collect the timing data, in order to isolate any systematic errors that may be present within the electronics or other parts of the timing system.That last part could be crucial. They were using the proton temporal distribution to be the same as the neutrino temporal distribution. Unlike MINOS, OPERA has no Near Detector to verify the neutrino temporal distribution before they travel all that distance to Gran Sasso. MINOS, on the other hand, has a near detector right at Fermilab, with the Far Detector located hundreds of miles away in Soudan, Minnesota. In some sense, I think it will be up to MINOS, and to some extent, T2K, to verify this result, which they will be able to do within a year.
Another independent check involves the statistical analysis of the data collected by OPERA. The researchers are not able to track, and therefore time, individual neutrinos as they travel from Geneva to Gran Sasso, but instead they measure the temporal distribution of the protons within each bunch just before the protons hit the graphite target and then compare this with the distribution of the corresponding neutrinos as they are detected in OPERA – with the temporal offset between the two revealing the time of flight. Some members of the collaboration argue that this offsetting procedure needs to be carried out independently, in order to be sure that the temporal profile of the neutrinos leaving CERN can be inferred accurately from that of the protons that produced them.
So sit tight. The next few months will be very interesting.