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Remember those faster-than-light neutrinos? Great, now forget 'em

Sharif Sakr
October 17, 2011
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A week ago the world went wild over CERN's tentative claim that it could make neutrinos travel faster than light. Suddenly, intergalactic tourism and day trips to the real Jurassic Park were back on the menu, despite everything Einstein said. Now, however, a team of scientists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands reckons it's come up with a more plausible (and disappointing) explanation of what happened: the GPS satellites used to measure the departure and arrival times of the racing neutrinos were themselves subject to Einsteinian effects, because they were in motion relative to the experiment. This relative motion wasn't properly taken into account, but it would have decreased the neutrinos' apparent journey time. The Dutch scientists calculated the error and came up with the 64 nanoseconds. Sound familiar? That's because it's almost exactly the margin by which CERN's neutrinos were supposed to have beaten light. So, it's Monday morning, Alpha Centauri and medieval jousting tournaments remain as out of reach as ever, and we just thought we'd let you know.

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