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  • Neutrino Study Contradicts Faster-Than-Light Findings
Nov 2011
ROME, Nov. 21, 2011 — A new study contradicts findings earlier this fall that neutrinos could travel faster than light.

At the end of September, scientists in the OPERA experiment at the Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy said neutrinos from Switzerland's CERN research center arrived at their doorstep 60 nanoseconds before light could have — outrunning the speed of light (See: Can Neutrinos Travel Faster Than Light?). The announcement called into question the validity of Einstein's special relativity theory. That theory, posited in 1905, says nothing can exceed the speed of light in a vacuum.

Diagram of neutrinos from the CNGS facility at CERN traveling 450 miles (730 km) underground to the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy. (Image: Copyright ©2001 CERN)

The new study, released by the OPERA team's colleagues at the ICARUS project, rejects that finding, according to Reuters News. Studies last week supported the original findings, but the ICARUS team says its measurements of the arriving neutrinos' energy levels "refute a superluminal (or faster than light) interpretation of the OPERA result."

The Icarus T600 detector, during its assembly phase, Spring 2008. (Image: Francesco Arneodo, LNGS-INFN)

The neutrinos, they say, should have lost most of their energy on the trip from CERN if they were indeed traveling even a tiny bit faster than light. But they found that the energy of the arriving neutrino beam lined up with what it should have been for travel at the speed of light but not faster, according to Reuters.

“Although our measurements have low systematic uncertainty and high statistical accuracy, and we place great confidence in our results, we’re looking forward to comparing them with those from other experiments,” said CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) researcher Dario Autiero in September, when the OPERA results were presented to particle physicists at CERN.

Researchers at other labs around the world are preparing to test OPERA's findings, too. The ICARUS team's paper can be found at

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A unit of energy equal to the amount of energy absorbed by one molecule of material undergoing a photochemical reaction, as determined by the Stark-Einstein law.
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