Friday, December 2, 2011

Some Explanations for Crazy Neutrinos

So as you all know neutrinos have been behaving in a rather bizarre way these days. And even though thousands of headlines already declared Einstein's theories wrong, in reality more independent tests are needed to confirm the results. So meanwhile let's check out some possible explanations for this strange behaviour of neutrinos.

This pictures illustrates how the experiments were done:


Perhaps the most famous explanation is that neutrinos might be travel some of the way in another dimension, which enables them to complete the journey faster. This short cut scenario would explain the strange results without challenging relativity. Perhaps the simplest analogy would be travelling between two points on the surface of Earth through a tunnel instead of travelling on the surface. The main problem however is that extra dimensions still belong to the more exotic theories of physics. That is there is no direct proof of any extra dimensions yet. Also, if neutrinos could do something as fancy as extra dimensional travel we should have detected it when observing massive supernova explosions, which enable quite accurate predictions of the speed of neutrinos. However, no such faster than light travel was ever detected.

Of course there are scientists who think that neutrinos have indeed travelled faster than light. However, according to physicist Sheldon Glashow, if neutrinos were indeed travelling faster than light in vacuum, they would radiate electron-positron pairs and would simply lose energy. This change in energy would be noticeable in the OPERA experiment, however no energy loss was detected. So this means that there simply is some kind of systematic error or that something really bizarre is going on.

So the other possible explanation might be some kind of unknown factor, which messes up the experiment and gives faster than light results. After the famous results were published, scientists were flooded by emails asking whether they included rotation of the Earth, general relativity, continental drift and other similar factors to their calculations. So far it seems that everything was included, as even the second experiment gave positive results that neutrinos travelled faster than they should. Yet, one of the newest explanations says that the anomaly in the speed of the particles could be explained having in mind that satellites were used to accurately determine the distance between Cern and Gran Sasso. And since the satellites where moving relatively to the observers on Earth, the calculations should be slightly different, which could give a change in the results of about 64 ns., which is very close to the result found in the experiments.

So even though there are many great as well as crazy explanations all of them have to be examined and checked. It will take long and hard work to test all of this, but as history shows, every great revolution in science starts with a crisis.

Also some guys sent me this crazy video. It's a song about neutrinos and it's so cheeeeeeesy. Actually, it's one of the strangest songs I've seen, but check it out :D


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