Thursday, February 23, 2012

Update On OPERA Measurement

Hum... this could be the start of something.

We receive news that the OPERA collaboration, which detected possible superluminal neutrinos and created all that havoc in the news late last year, may have identified possible issues with its measurement.

The OPERA collaboration has informed its funding agencies and host laboratories that it has identified two possible effects that could have an influence on its neutrino timing measurement. These both require further tests with a short pulsed beam. If confirmed, one would increase the size of the measured effect, the other would diminish it. The first possible effect concerns an oscillator used to provide the time stamps for GPS synchronizations. It could have led to an overestimate of the neutrino's time of flight. The second concerns the optical fibre connector that brings the external GPS signal to the OPERA master clock, which may not have been functioning correctly when the measurements were taken. If this is the case, it could have led to an underestimate of the time of flight of the neutrinos. The potential extent of these two effects is being studied by the OPERA collaboration. New measurements with short pulsed beams are scheduled for May.
More coverage can be found here. In other words, more needs to be looked at.

Problems with its measurement have always been one of the strongest criticism against the result. So they were wise to look at everything they did. This is not an easy experiment, and many of the things we normally won't think of, or take for granted (such as the speed of the signal going through our electronics) must be seriously evaluated.


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