According to new tests neutrinos don’t travel faster than light

ICARUS detector (Photo INFN)
ICARUS detector (Photo INFN)

When the scientists of the Opera experiment claimed that beams of neutrinos had traveled faster than light, the scientists working on the ICARUS (Imaging Cosmic And Rare Underground Signals) experiment were among the first to express doubts.

The ICARUS experiment uses its own neutrino detector composed by six hundred tons of liquid argon and for this reason it’s been called T600. That technology was proposed in 1977 by Professor Carlo Rubbia, who won the 1984 Nobel Prize in physics for his other research. Today Rubbia is the spokeperson for the ICARUS experiment.

Like the Opera detector, ICARUS operates in the National Laboratories of Gran Sasso of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). The two experiments are using the same equipment at CERN to create neutrino beams. Consequently, the scientists of the team ICARUS could make independent measurements regarding seven events recorded in October and November 2011. The neutrinos were sent in pulses 4 nanoseconds long to further increase the accuracy of measurement compared to the experiment Opera, which used pulses of 10 microseconds.

Professor Carlo Rubbia said that ICARUS experiment results are in agreement with our scientific knowledge and neutrinos didn’t travel faster than light.

CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci stated that the evidence is pointing to a measurement problem by Opera experiment. Not surprisingly, from the beginning the scientists who obtained those extraordinary results showed great prudence merely reporting them.

Less than a month ago possible problems in the sophisticated instruments used by the Opera experiment were highlighted. A new test is scheduled for May after controlling the equipment but at this point presumably there will be a confirmation that it was a measurement problem.

Both Carlo Rubbia and Sergio Bertolucci however pointed out that measurements are complex and that the the various experiments and controls were carried out according to the scientific method. The media inevitably pumped the news about the extraordinary results of the Opera experiment but in the end it’s scientists who perform experiments, repeat them and independently verify their results.

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