Faster Than Light Neutrinos Explained?

From Science Insider, there is a possible explanation for the recently observed "faster than light" neutrinos. The Neutrinos were clocked at faster-than-light speeds on their way form CRN in Switzerland to a detectors site in Italy. I had originally proposed that the neutrinos were merely very hungry but unwilling to eat Swiss food, and since they were on their way to Italy, why not go FTL?

The research at first was assumed to most likely be some kind of mistake, but a Mulligan Redo Procedure clearly demonstrated that the most obvious errors could not explain the observation, which violates The Laws of Physics.

It turns out that the reason that the Neutrinos appeared to go faster than the speed of light is exactly the same reason most of these things happen:


According to sources familiar with the experiment, the 60 nanoseconds discrepancy appears to come from a bad connection between a fiber optic cable that connects to the GPS receiver used to correct the timing of the neutrinos' flight and an electronic card in a computer.

When the researchers pulled out the wire, cleaned it off on their sleeve and put it back in again, the calibration changed by 60 nanoseconds.


The neutrinos, currently serving a 10-12 lightyear sentence for violating the rules of physics, are expected to be released immediately.

Update: Phil Plait has posted something on this.


Neutrinos, which resemble kittens, are expected to be released from Physics Prison as soon as the paperwork is finished.

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It is a good thing the researcher was wearing a long sleeve shirt. If he/she has short sleeves then we would never have found out!

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 22 Feb 2012 #permalink

This explains everything and nothing. Didn't the experiments swear they checked and calibrated everything? If your whole experiment depends on the reliability of your GPS setup, shouldn't that be the first thing you check?

By Zippy the Pinhead (not verified) on 22 Feb 2012 #permalink

I was hoping this was gong to be something more esoteric, like some effect of how fast the Earth is moving through space, or something about satellites or whatever. But on the other hand, we all can feel better about ourselves next time some fundamental system in our own lives fails because we kicked the cord lose or something.

It's usually the simple things. I said from the start they've probably got their timing wrong. With the ridiculous absolute timing accuracy their experiment requires, mistakes come easy.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 22 Feb 2012 #permalink

Zippy, they probably ran all sorts of diagnositics, and recalibrated repeatedly. All without ever pulling the cable. After all, it was working. Why fix what ain't broke?

The moral of the story: the proper functioning of even a digital cable is not a binary thing.

Ha! Cool. Yeah, you have to check the more common off-the-shelf bits, too.

In other time-related news, the TZ database lawsuit against Olson and Eggert has been dropped, with a promise that it will not happen again.