Science-- there's something for everyone

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Two reasons neutrinos can’t go faster than light


A few months ago, I posted an article about faster-than-light (FTL) travel.  While that data has yet to be refuted, most physicists are certain that it soon will be.  Here are just two reasons why FTL travel is impossible, even for neutrinos.


First, let's take an extremely simplified look at how those speedy neutrinos were created.  Physicists produced subatomic particles called ‘pions’.  The pions were sent down a long tunnel, along the way decaying into neutrinos and other particles. Those neutrinos, being able to pass through solid objects, continued their merry way through the Earth to Gran Sasso, Italy, where they were clocked at superluminal speeds. 

Here’s the problem:  To have the energy required to travel that fast, the neutrinos had to inherit that energy from the pions from whence they came.  But if those pions had had that kind of energy in the first place, they’d have lasted longer, which means they would have spent more of their energy before decaying into neutrinos.  In other words, you just can’t get parent pions to decay into neutrinos that retain enough energy for FTL travel.

The supernova problem:

In 1987, we observed a supernova  (SN1987A) that showered the Earth with both neutrinos and light from 160,000 light years away.  If those neutrinos had traveled at the same speed as the FTL neutrinos in the CERN experiment, they would have arrived four years before we saw the explosion.  Needless to say, this did not happen. 

So those are just two reasons why there must be some error in the FTL conclusion.  By the way, even scientists who adamantly deny that FTL travel is possible think the physicists at CERN did the right thing by publishing.  At the least, we will probably gain some new understanding about subatomic particles.