Following are the serious physics based remarks, analysis or studies I have made so far on OPERA collaboration’s experimental result or ones that can be read in this context. This measurement has surpassed in my opinion all bounds of doubt and uncertainty. What remains is an anomaly, in this article I will give some suggestions on how anomalies if any can be addressed and make other pertinent remarks.
Before that here are the serious articles on OPERA so far — only 1 humor based article is on OPERA with popular musical analogies, I will mention it just for the heck of it and presume it does not take any one away from scientific context, but then serious and good quality experiments aren’t necessarily understood by serious physicists who keep on making vague comments which is more of a danger toward science than just humor:
[in order of chronology, into past]
Article 1: The time energy uncertainty relation.
Article 2: Further OPERA of a comprehensible universe — the current blog you are reading.
Article 3: The sociology of skepticism.
Article 4: Why scientists think photon is mass-less.
Article 5: What do we know about photon ? (Light).
Article 6: Why the neutrino and photon break-up? — You may avoid this it’s just humor.
Article 7: Fundamental things you should know about the neutrinos.
Article 8: Just a few implications of the OPERA neutrino result.
Article 9: The OPERA neutrino results.
Article 10: Is a photon always moving at the speed-of-light? (current title: What are photons) — This one is before I knew anything called OPERA experiment exists, although written less than two weeks ago.
Article 11: Why nothing moves faster than light? — on my main blog site, written April this year.
Now back to this article:
1. How to address the issue if this result is an anomaly — a correctly measured anomaly at that). Instead of depending on another experiment the OPERA can simply divide it’s ~16000 neutrinos into 16 groups of 1000 neutrinos each, — or is it 15000, does not matter as far as the idea goes.
If a systematic glitch is present it will only show up in 1 or more than 1 group. If you think it is present in all 16 groups you are saying it will be present in 16 million neutrinos as well, hence neutrinos bought a glitch from Walmart so that photons can not pace beyond the neutrino.
It’s like neutrinos taking drugs to pace beyond photons, but they are allowed to do that. Why is photon such a lazy guy, he can buy his favorite bike, who stopped him before the Olympics? The conditions of the experiment are equally affecting both neutrino and photon baseline, a feature only good experimentalists understand why the systematic error issue of GPS clock etc is a meaningless diversion from the real issue.
2. The experimentalist in me says: the OPERA experimental measurement is correct. The systematic errors are in control, — finding more systematic error is your problem, the statistics is in control — finding more statistics is your problem, the mean value is sharp and completely out of the bound of the errors, — you can quote the mean as a precise result.
IF you think this result is an anomaly it is still a correct anomaly going into the data-book. But the supernovae 1987-a is also an anomaly? The neutrinos reached 3 hrs before the photons. The MINOS 2007 is anomaly? — The result is clouded by errors hence you can vary the data point more arbitrarily, but OPERA 2011 you can not vary it at-all on your graph, mind it.
3. Experiment = mean + systematic (error) + statistics (error) + anomaly + skepticism (expressed in language).
Since the first three here are signs of a great experiment the only catch is “is it an anomaly that has been measured?” e.g. anomalies are widely distant variations from a precise result. Anomaly is a systematic glitch of the universe not of the experiment — universe is a huge experiment.
I have given a solid explanation why this anomaly is very easy to understand given energy-time uncertainty relation. More and more experiments is the way to deal with anomalies. One way is point 1 (above). Another way is measurements from other baseline experiments such as MINOS. Point 1 is fixed in a particular region of energy which is the main issue here, that energy makes it possible to break photon speed barrier.
Supernovae 1987-a was MeV range effect and the photons were only barely lagging. Here photons are lagging a lot. So this is a great hint, vary the energy of the source from MeV to GeV range, there will be a gradual increase in the speed of the neutrino. If that is the case all theorists that are claiming this experiment is an embarrassment should feel ashamed of themselves of how they do not understand brilliant experiments and mislead the science community.
One more thing people are saying 20-GeV neutrino, well that is the source energy, lets find out the neutrino energy (from simple Relativity) and vary this energy to check neutrino speed behavior. Also manifold energy from CERN is coming up in future so care must be taken to include these additional features.
4. With so much skepticism and my personal ones too, it is not hard to see what is happening with the OPERA measurement using basic physics. The mass of neutrinos is used as < 2 eV. This is a PDG mean value? YES this is PDG confirmed value with neutrino flavor-mass mixing, what does it mean? I have explained here: the mass of neutrino is not well understood because of rotation between flavor states and mass states. i.e. this mass 2 eV is a “collective” mass of all 3 flavors: m,e,t types.
It is an upper-bound on mean of mass but error is not quoted, — since not done or understood but error is wide. That means the energy error window is so large that the time window or uncertainty is very small. The energy window is large because the direct mass-lifetime measurement entails even a value of 50 MeV which are inherently present in the data.
With such a huge error on energy that they allowed themselves it is no wonder they could measure time so precisely which goes above the photons, in speed. The beauty of this experiment is we do not understand yet the neutrino mixing which has made their mass understood in terms of individual neutrinos, which is a blessing in disguise because it entails a wide energy error therefore making the time-cutter very very sharp, in this case nanoseconds range, — I need to put in the equation to see, struck me just now.
5. See 4 above, it is one of the boldest experiment which did not care what mass is entailed to neutrinos as long as the time precision is good enough to see neutrino reaches before the photon or not. It would be religious for experimentalists to believe that nothing that has a mass can ever exceed the photon speed since that is the corner-stone of Relativity.
To hell with it, if neutrino makes it, it makes it. Those who think this result is an embarrassment it’s a very good embarrassment. Steven Weinberg does not seem to understand it why other particles are not making it. Hello, how many particles are so close to photon — perhaps so close to photon in the mass as barely an eV, which is still far above the photon mass but far below any other known and understood particle, even if the errors or mixing are not understood.
Other exotic ideas like UHCER, — like I proposed, are far off, we never “saw” them. But neutrino? We still know so much about them and it is quantum mechanics to our rescue here, allow yourself more error on energy, time resolution goes really sharp. In velocity there is only distance and there is time, alas and the distance covered by photon is same as that by neutrino, it’s a race.
If photon has a knee surgery so did neutrino. Lawrence Krauss thinks why supernovae neutrino did not reach 4 years earlier than the measured 3 hrs, hello, neutrinos have mass (rest energy) hence it depends on how much energy they have to see if they can shoot past the photon or not, supernovae was MeV energy range, what was the error allowed? **I don’t know** But if they did shoot past the photon, they did it. Period. Don’t call it an embarrassment. At-least not for the neutrinos.
Some people are arguing it is Lorentz invariance that is being violated, no it is the amount of the invariance, before and after the invariance, that is being violated. Physics is not violated here. Dogmas are.
Talking about embarrassment: Religion is an insult to human dignity but science is an insult to religion. Science wins because it can leave you embarrassed instead of dead. I can therefore take chance to be embarrassed of OPERA coming out to be wrong because what will still win is science.
Some people are taking it the other way, they are making possible correct statements **that is established laws** in their head, if they come out to be correct, science still wins, but their selfish motives as well. Stephen Hawking is the opposite, he makes opposite bets **knowing at some level he is wrong, he wants the debate to go on and science to triumph**, theorists have to learn it at-least from theorists like Hawking if not experimentalists.
7. Talking about Einstein being right or wrong: Einstein is like Galileo, in 1600 Galileo did an experiment to say light moves at an infinite speed. Then in 1849 Fizeau proved by his experiment that light moves at . In 1905 Einstein theorized nothing moves faster than light. There have been many remarkable hints and discoveries that may prove finally that he was plain wrong, — some what honorable than saying not even wrong, he cannot choose but who do I ask, some of his “followers” have been the biggest blots on science, they survive by the Lord’s name.
It has been evidenced beyond doubt and beyond uncertainties that Einstein is wrong, — at-least partly, with theory of Relativity. But it hasn’t been proved beyond anomaly. Together doubt, uncertainties and anomalies constitute skepticism. This is what most people are expressing **anomaly**, that the final nail in the coffin comes when there is more and more measurements to prove that there is no anomaly here but a fact of nature.
8. I don’t care what extra-dimension the neutrinos have taken, — perhaps that scene of OPERA we haven’t reached yet. What I care is this is a remarkable and clean measurement. The neutrino mass is 2 eV with a large error, — uncertainty or ignorance from mixing of flavor and mass states, that means at-least one of the neutrino flavor is very very light and occurs in plenty, it is this light mass neutrino, that easily shoot past the photon depending what energy it has.
The massive particles will also do if they have a gigantic energy to do it, at-least if you are not religiously stuck by theory of Relativity’s unproven dictum that universe has a speed limit that must be the speed of the photon since it is mass less. In the limit that rest-energy (rest mass you call it) is far negligible to the kinetic energy the particles can shoot past the photon, — any particle would do as long as they do not waste their energy in quarrel with other particles, when they do they lose their energy rapidly into other interactions, hence loose their ability to shoot past the photon,
which is by default a zero rest-energy particle: photon has only one lesson, if this result is correct, actually the lesson is for us intelligent fools, saru mo ki kara ochiru, Japanese for “even a monkey falls from trees”, even a photon loses a race.
9. Humor: a chat between neutrino and photon; photon: I run the fastest, neutrino: well I run faster than you, photon: no buddy, you don’t, see it, I am not that fast in dense medium, they have defined a refractive index, you just do not obey certain laws because the sheriff is your in-laws. neutrino: let’s run in vacuum, photon: well I warn you, you must have zero mass, neutrino: I have a distant cousin who is pretty slim, let the game begin, Result: ladies and gentle men, the neutrino has surpassed all the records of the photon and reached home a staggering 60 ns earlier, the photon has been sent to act in an OPERA with the massive H2O molecule. The neutrino is traveling around the world.
10. Most people have got the relativity wrong even when they talk about it, relativity is not just about very high speed, it is very high energy and it gives us a triumphant theory which gives us relation between energy, momentum etc at very high energy, so high that the small-speed limits of energy are essentially negligible.
So square(energy loss) = 2 x energy x (energy at rest), so for photons there is no energy loss but for massive particles there is a huge loss by default. This is not a problem if the massive particles are extremely energetic. The other thing is what are the channels of these particle? e.g. in dense media the photon is literally a tortoise even compared to very slow moving charges.
But for neutrinos that is not a problem. So refractive index of neutrino in medium is almost 1. For massive charges it depends what their refractive index would be based on how they react in the said medium, that is: what are their energy channels. First they loose energy by default because they are heavy then they lose it through quarrel with others in the path, a reason why they can not shoot past photons. But 1. it is not necessary that they must 2. it is not necessary that they must not. The problem at hand is whether experimentally we observe such or not and this is evolving.
11. A cartoon which explain energy loss in particle reaction, if the energy is much large compared to the rest energy — this is the real triumph of theory of relativity, not the speed limit, mind it.