As I vaguely recall from electromagic class the speed of light falls out directly from the magnetic and electric permeability of free space. Since neutrinos are uncharged perhaps it follows they aren't restricted by the same physics. Also, with regards to cause and effect maybe it is the neutrinos that are carrying all the good info for cause and effect -- not light!
Actually Max things travel faster then light all the time -- just not in a vacuum. Cerenkov radiation is one example. You must always state "moving faster than light in a vacuum."
Also, the most interesting question is not whether the neutrinos traveled faster than light (in a vacuum) but what FPGA the scientists used in the timing circuits!
I think that the "preoccupation" is that folks realize that if this info is true and particles have been detected moving faster than light then it affects our understanding of physics at the most fundamental level
So I am still perplexed that this finding is causing such up roar on many people, from the practical point of view, in everyday living. These type of revelations take some time to percolate into real or practical use for us all, and that is a big if, if any use is really able to translate to human life improvement product.
Wireless communication, or other high-tech appllications may never benefit form a faster propagation mechanism than light, so what is the big preocupation with such exotic effect?
The entire paper is very interesting to read, and is located at: http://static.arxiv.org/pdf/1109.4897.pdf
It is very descriptive of how these tests were done. Section 3 describes the time of flight experiment. Of note is the fact that the test does not rely on a Start/Stop type of measurement but on the time differences between the probability distribution function of neutrino creation from protons within a given and subsequent 10.5uS proton extraction periods.
The authors do not try to explain why the difference occurs although they do tell about some efforts to remove systemic error sources.
If this is confirmed by other independent sources, then that would be something to talk about.
I would have to read the article fully and really get into the nitty gritty of what their experimental setup involved. (And not just the info in the article.)
For light (in a vacuum), 730 km (we don't know the exact distance) should take,
730,000 / 299,792,548 = 0.002435017 s
But, the neutrinos arrived 60 nanoseconds sooner.
elapsed time for neutrinos = 0.002434957 s
So, the speed of the neutrinos was approximately,
2435017 / 2434957 * c = 1.000024641 c.
730,000 * 0.000024641 = 17.98 m.
So, if I'm correct, for 730 km, the neutrinos supposedly were already approximately 18 meters past the finish line, when a light beam would have arrived.
The neutrinos were just slightly faster than a light beam, approximately 1 part in 40,583.
As far as I understand there are always experimental uncertainties and I am not sure all sources of error were accounted for.
Theories are always nice and clean, but experiments can sometimes trip you up on those little pesky factors that you didn't consider.
I am sure other physicists & engineers will get involved to check and re-check the experimental setup. I suspect later someone will say (oh crap we thought that factor was negligible - but it isn't after all.)
Time will tell...
So Mike, do you have any possible more specific explanation for the phenomena observed at CERN? I read the full article and while a lot of it is way over my head they do seem to have done their homework...??
To clarify a little more..
The reason nothing (signal, energy, or matter) can travel faster than the speed of light is that if it did it could cause an effect to occur before a cause. This is explained in good physics books that explain special relativity. The math involves only algebra and is actually pretty straight-forward.
I read some of the comments here and people seem to want to rebel at the idea of the unsurpassibility of the speed of light.
But physics must be based on experimental results (Michelson–Morley experiment) and mathematical logic.
Particle physics experimental results tend to be very messy with many particles being created and destroyed in very short spans of time with very strong, erratic, electric, magnetic, and radiative effects. This many times results in anomalies and results that sometimes don't make sense upon first analysis. (Recall that the bumblebee - to first order - should not fly.)
Anyway something to think about...
- Dr. Michael O. Peralta (Ph.D. Physics Univ. of Arizona, 1999)