Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Those Neutrinos

There's a bit of a hubbub going on about the OPERA neutrinos and how they seem to have travelled faster than the speed of light.  I don't know enough about relativity or quantum effects, but wondered if there might be a more simple explanation.

It's been suggested by some that maybe Neutrinos just do travel a little bit faster than light.  Those people have referred to a supernova that occurred a little while ago, and pointed out that the Neutrinos arrived hours ahead of the light from the supernova, so perhaps Neutrinos are just a bit quicker and this is another example of that.  The thing is, if the Neutrinos are just a bit quicker than light to the extent represented by the OPERA experiment, the Neutrinos from the supernova would have arrived here years ahead of the light, rather than just hours.

So I got to thinking that maybe that there's something between the transmitter and receiver used in the OPERA experiment that made the Neutrinos faster than light for very brief periods of that journey, and the same something lies between Earth and the supernova.

So we need something that there is a relative lot of between the OPERA transmitter and receiver, and a relative little of between earth and the supernova. 

Could it possibly be matter?

The Neutrinos passing from the transmitter to the receiver for OPERA moved through the Earth.  The Neutrinos coming to Earth from the supernova moved through space - an almost complete vacuum, but the key word is almost.  Could matter speed Neutrinos up?  If so, the relatively tiny amount of matter in space could have accounted for a 3 hour difference between light and Neutrinos over a sufficiently big distance (and the distance to the supernova was something like 160,000 light years).

Anyone know if that's at all plausible?

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