Final Proof that Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos are Impossible?Alasdair Wilkins12/27/11 4:14pmFiled to: PhysicsParticle physicsOpera experimentNeutrinoMuonPionParticle decayFaster than light neutrinoFtl neutrinoScience47EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkFor the last few months, physicists have been attempting to explain the apparent discovery of neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. No one has as yet refuted this finding, but some other particles may refute these neutrinos' existence.AdvertisementIn September, physicists at the OPERA experiment announced that they had observed neutrinos traveling through the Earth from CERN to an underground detector in Gran Sasso seemingly faster than the speed of light, arriving 60 nanoseconds earlier than the laws of physics would allow. Right now, physicists around the world are attempting to replicate these findings and to sort through all possible objections and potential sources of error. It's early days yet, but the OPERA anomaly has stood up fairly well to these attempts thus far.But now Washington University St. Louis physicist Ramanath Cowsik and his team have come up with what is quite possibly an impossible problem for these faster-than-light neutrinos to overcome. Instead of focusing on the neutrinos themselves, Cowsik looked at the other subatomic particles in the experiment that were smashed together to create the neutrinos.Here's how the OPERA experiment worked: Protons were shot towards a stationary object, which produced a pulse of particles known as pions. These are low-mass subatomic particles that are composed of a pair of quarks. (For more on pions, check out our particle physics field guide.) These pions were magnetically forced through a long tunnel, and there they decayed into neutrinos and muons, which are like a more massive cousin of electrons.