Since the surprising ‘discovery’ of faster-than-light neutrinos was announced a few weeks ago, quite a few people have brought the topic up in conversation with me. My response has been that the experimentalists, despite their diligence and expertise, have undoubtedly overlooked a systematic error in their analysis, and that the ‘finding’ will go away when the experimental method is analyzed more closely.
Earlier this week an interesting paper was published by Ronald van Elburg of the University of Groningen that seems to be exactly the sort of thing I was expecting. He argues that the experimentalists overlooked a subtle relativistic effect that affects the synchronization of the clocks used to measure the speed of the neutrinos. His back-of-the-envelope estimate for the resulting error is almost exactly what is needed to bring the neutrinos velocity back below the speed of light where it belongs.
If it [the proposed explanation] stands up, this episode will be laden with irony. Far from breaking Einstein’s theory of relatively, the faster-than-light measurement will turn out to be another confirmation of it.
Exactly so. It would be nice if this turned out to be the answer to the riddle.