Foolish humans. Such hubris to think that we could dethrone Einsteinian special relativity, by virtue of a single experiment. Now it's official: the notion that neutrinos could travel faster than the speed of light really was the result of a "faulty kit".
We suspected that something was fishy back in February when OPERA physicists — those responsible for the initial announcement — started to call their results into question, on account of technical glitches. Specifically, they were critical of an oscillator used to produce the event's time-stamps in between the GPS synchronization and the connection of an optical fiber cable.
But nothing official was announced about the results, until now.
Researchers made the admission to the science community today at the International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics which is being held in Kyoto, Japan.
"The previous data taken up to 2011 with the neutrino beam from CERN to Gran Sasso were revised taking into account understood instrumental effects," the team said. "A coherent picture has emerged with both previous and new data pointing to a neutrino velocity consistent with the speed of light."
Now, while this is certainly embarrassing, props go out to the scientific community for following this through to the end. Few studies in recent memory have undergone as much scrutiny as this one, mostly on account of its counter-intuitive and unexpected results. The incident show that, when done right, the scientific method works.
This is also particularly good news for the theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili who threatened to eat his shorts on live TV should the results be proven right. He's probably breathing a bit easier today.
AFP. Image via On Being.