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Scientists Back Off, Neutrinos Were Not Clocked At Speeds Faster Than Light

Jun 11, 2012
Originally published on June 12, 2012 7:11 am

We're a few days late on this news, but because we've focused on neutrinos that may have moved faster than the speed of light before, we thought it only fair to bring you the news:

The team of Italian scientists running an experiment called OPERA, who said they had clocked neutrinos moving faster than light, have come to terms with their findings: Their experiment does not challenge a very basic tenant of physics.

According to the New Scientist, the researchers made the admission during the Neutrino 2012 conference in Kyoto on Friday. Neutrinos, the scientists said, move very close to the speed of light.

And they're also shape shifters. We'll let the New Scientist explain:

"Neutrinos come in three flavours: electron, muon and tau. Several experiments had seen evidence for neutrinos spontaneously switching, or oscillating, from one type to another. Those oscillations proved, to many physicists' surprise, that the supposed massless particles must have some infinitesimal mass, and offered a route to explaining why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe.

"Before OPERA, all the evidence for neutrino oscillations came from disappearances: detectors would end up with less of a certain type of neutrino than they started with, suggesting some had morphed into other flavours. Then in 2010, OPERA found the first tau neutrino in a beam of billions of muon neutrinos streaming to the Gran Sasso detectors from CERN. The discovery was a big deal at the time, but the team said they needed more tau neutrinos to make it statistically significant."

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