Neutrinos definitely do no travel faster than light. That was the final word from CERN last week, the laboratory that first measured neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light in 2011. In the experiment, the neutrinos arrived at the second lab 60 nanoseconds faster than light would have.
“Although this result isn’t as exciting as some would have liked, it is what we all expected deep down,” physicist Sergio Bertolucci, the research director at CERN, said in a statement.
If the Swiss lab had found that the opposite was true, their findings would have turned the world of physics upside down as Einstein’s prediction that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light is one of the most well-known principles in all of science.
After the first CERN experiment, labs from around the globe tried to recreate the OPERA findings, but each time they found that the neutrinos obeyed Einstein’s principle.
The OPERA scientists said that data from their first experiment was invalid due to a faulty element of the lab’s fiber-optic timing system. The experiment’s failure opened the OPERA scientists up to stern criticism from the scientific community.
“Note to Einstein naysayers – check your equipment before trying to prove the chief geek wrong,” the Huffington Post Tech’s Melanie Hick wrote.
CERN’s research director dismissed criticism, however, by saying that science is a series of successes and failures.
“The story captured the public imagination, and has given people the opportunity to see the scientific method in action — an unexpected result was put up for scrutiny, thoroughly investigated and resolved in part thanks to collaboration between normally competing experiments,” Mr. Bertolucci said. “That’s how science moves forward.”