So, these ‘faster than light’ neutrino results. Amazing that they haven’t gone away yet, and many papers are trying to work out why. Today’s update is that there may have been a simple hardware error in the sync cable
Now I don’t think that the neutrinos are actually going faster than light speed, but…
Firstly, in the dozens of factors that have been taken into account, one that is missing is the earth’s rotation. Obviously as the world is turning, the target is getting closer to the source. But I feel sure it has been factored in. (Googling reveals the error if earth’s rotation is not factored in to be just around 3.4 nanoseconds, far short of the 57.8ns ‘found’)
What about a mechanism? If they are going faster than light, how is it happening? That’s not hard to figure out, though. First, forget the idea that c is being broken. The world seems set against that, and for good reason.
Done that? Good.
Firstly, I disagree with Andrew Cohen’s paper. There is no way to be sure that the neutrinos would have lost energy over a short distance.
Consider that c is the speed of light in a vacuum. However, the vacuum is proven to be a fairly well populated place, with particles popping in and out of existence, often only existing for tiny fractions of a second, and responsible for odd things like the Kasmir effect (where two plates incredibly close together harvest these pairs for ‘free energy’) & Hawking radiation (where one particle of the pair gets ‘eaten’ [crosses the event horizon] while the other radiates, making the black hole indirectly visible).
My theory is that the value for c is slightly wrong for neutrinos.
Consider light interacting with any transparent medium. It slows down a fraction as it interacts with each of the billions of molecules on route (which gives us the idea of refractive index n) – light has more interactions in a diamond than is less dense glass, than in water, than in a gas, than in vacuum. In an ultra-dense Bose-Einstein condensate it can be slowed to just 35mph!
What is the refractive index of the vacuum? It is impossible to measure, and is by definition 1. This gives us something to consider. As light travels through the unseen vacuum particles, is it in fact interacting with them, in the same way as it would interact with other, more usual particles? (This would also give us a mechanism for Cerenkov radiation preventing FTL photons – after all, you need air for a sonic boom, so needing some form of particle (heavy water is popular) to get Cerenkov radiation is to be expected. This was in my opinion the flaw in Cohen’s paper’s argument.)
Now consider that getting neutrinos to interact with anything is really quite hard.
I’m sure you can see where this is heading. If the neutrinos don’t interact (or have a lower proability of interaction) with the zero point particles that arise spontaneously in the vacuum, but light (indeed, all photons) does, then n needs a slight recalibration. (This isn’t actually a great leap of faith – at X-ray energies of 30keV water has a refractive index below 1.)
Air has a refractive index of 1.000293, meaning that c is 1/1.000293 slower than the signposted 2.98×10^8 m/s.
The anomalous neutrinos are just 57.8 nanoseconds faster than they should be, over a ~2.43 millisecond journey. That means a 1 part in 42,000 difference, and a resulting shift of 0.00002381 in n.
So, if the re-done experiments come back with the same anomaly, there’s your answer.
Of course, I would still have to work out the answer to the supernova observations that showed neutrinos to be just a little slower than light. Perhaps they interact with dark matter, and so were slowed in the same way light was by the vacuum.
But then again…