Life, Unbounded

Life, Unbounded

Discussion and news about planets, exoplanets, and astrobiology

Superluminal muon-neutrinos? Don't get your hopes up.


Ghosts in the aether (CERN)

The past 24 hours have suddenly been awash in neutrinos, in addition to the 65 billion passing through every square centimeter of your skin every second from the Sun's core. Although hardly the stuff of planetary science or astrobiology I have found myself facing questions from a few people who wonder if faster-than-light particles could portend the coming of interstellar travel, or 'sub-space' communication (whatever the heck that is beyond a convenient scriptwriter ploy to keep a plot ticking along). Anyone following my Twitter posts will see that I share Steve Mirsky's direct and spot-on comment that 'I'm going all-in on Einstein still being right'. The results from the OPERA scientists is definitely extremely intriguing however, and they've been very brave to put it out for the world to see and to stand up and discuss it - who says science doesn't do a good job at communicating?

I feel that many others have written far better commentaries and summaries than I could, so in the interests of letting you explore this for yourselves I've compiled here a few of what I think are the most useful resources. And as for reaching the stars on the tails of superluminal muon-neutrinos? I wouldn't hold out hope for that. But maybe. just maybe, these ghostly particles have some properties we've not yet understood.

The OPERA science paper proper: Measurement of the neutrino velocity with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam

Nice overview, commentary at Starts With a Bang: This Extraordinary Claim Requires Extraordinary Evidence

Another nice commentary at Galileo's Pendulum: I Don't Want to Write About Neutrinos

At Scientific American (although the title is a little too much): Particles Found to Travel Faster Than Speed of Light

At the NY Times Dennis Overbye as always provides essential perspective: Tiny Neutrinos May Have Broken Cosmic Speed Limit

At The User's Guide to the Universe a nice sanity check: Faster Than Light Neutrinos? A Quick Calculation

Finally, once they put it up, today's live webcast with the scientists will be available from CERN

And if your brain is still operating subluminally, there is a nice mini-doc video from CNRS here:

Faster than Light? by CNRS

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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