They could have changed the world as we knew it. Overturned one hundred years of accepted physics. Shattered one of the fundamental pillars of our understanding of the universe.
Instead, it may have all come down to “bad wiring.”
I posted about this a few times last year: Back in September 2011, scientists working on the Opera project at CERN measured neutrinos arriving at their projected destination a full 60 nanoseconds sooner than light would have.
The implications of this were extraordinary, so they announced their findings and called for other scientists to duplicate the experiment. The original project scientists did so, as well, and reportedly came up with the same result.
All throughout this muddled series of events, many wondered if it wasn’t just a miscalculation.
Perhaps they’d forgotten to take into account the time dilation effects between Earth and satellites, for example.
Now, we come to find out that the incredible findings may have been caused by problems with a “timing gear” and an “optical fibre connection.”
FTL Neutrinos, Part II
Unfortunately, this could go either way, potentially leading to even more confusion.
Depending on which problem affected the results — the “timing gear” or the “optical fibre connection” — the neutrinos could end up either being slower than the speed of light, or even faster than originally measured.
At any rate, efforts to replicate the experiment and ultimately confirm or deny the results are still in progress, and I’m sure we’ll hear about it every step of the way. Such is the scientific process.
I will say this, though: Before you attempt to overturn a fundamental theory at the foundations of modern physics, please make sure everything’s plugged in correctly.
It really does help.