Cross-posted from Scientific American’s Degrees of Freedom blog on behalf of Davide Castelvecchi.
Neutrinos that go beyond light speed? Not so fast, say two theoretical physicists.
In a terse, peremptory-sounding paper posted online on 29 September, Andrew Cohen and Sheldon Glashow of Boston University calculate that any neutrinos travelling faster than light would radiate energy away, leaving a wake of slower particles analogous to the sonic boom of a supersonic fighter jet. Their findings cast doubt on the veracity of measurements recently announced at CERN (and posted online here) that clocked neutrinos going a sliver faster than light.
For someone who may have just helped to save the edifice of modern physics (if it was ever really at risk of crumbling down), Cohen is not especially upbeat or relieved. “On the contrary, I am saddened and disappointed,” he says. After all, a lot physicists would love for the shocking measurement to be correct. For the experimentalists who made it, it could mean that they had made the discovery of the century. For theorists, it could be the start of an exciting period of creative upheaval. “It gets boring if [nature] always works the same way you expected,” Cohen says.
Read the rest of this blog post at Scientific American.
And read Nature’s coverage of the super-fast neutrinos here.