Neutrinos: Faster than Light? It’s proved

It has been generally assumed that neutrinos travel at the speed of light. According to the theory of relativity, if neutrinos are massless, they must travel at the speed of light. However, if they carry a mass, they cannot reach the speed of light. There have been various theories regarding the speed of Neutrinos.

It was in 1980s when experiments found the speed of 3 GeV neutrinos to be 1.000051(29) c. The experiments continued for decades and the results were considered to be statistically consistent with neutrinos travelling at the speed of light.

Recently, in September 2011 the OPERA collaboration released calculations showing velocities of 17-GeV and 28-GeV neutrinos exceeding the speed of light in their experiments. The researchers at CERN, Europe’s main physics laboratory, announced that subatomic particles called neutrinos had apparently sped from the lab’s headquarters near Geneva, through the Earth’s crust, to an underground detector 730km (450 miles) away around 60-billionths of a second faster than light would take to cover the same distance. The difference in speed is tiny, but the implications are huge. The OPERA results suggested that neutrinos were travelling faster than light by a factor of 1 in 40,000, i.e. that neutrino speed is 1.0000248(28) c.

The results are still under scrutiny. If found correct, it would open up the possibility of time travel and play havoc with longstanding notions of cause and effect. Einstein’s theory of relativity had established the speed of light as the ultimate limit. He said that if you could send a message faster than light, “You could send a telegram to the past.



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