Loose Wire Blamed For Faster-Than-Light Mistaken Finding

Albert Einstein is not such a dummy after all. As we previously discussed, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in making a subatomic particle go faster than the speed of light for the first time. The scientists used neutrinos, which were observed smashing past the cosmic speed barrier of 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second). It now turns out that it was just a loose wire that delayed the reading by a few nanoseconds — that was enough to disprove the faster than the speed of light finding. It also means the loss of a good joke

After many questioned the results, the scientists went over every inch of the experiment and found a loose connection between a timer and a computer produced a 60-nanosecond discrepancy. Someone failed to tighten the connection of a fiber optic cable to a GPS receiver (used to correct the timing of the neutrinos’ flight) and a computer. That is all it took. That may have been a second problem with the GPS (long suspected by outside scientists) but this was enough to change the results.

When they tightened the connections and re-ran the experiment, they came up 60 nanoseconds short. That means that Einstein’s theory that the speed of light in a vacuum — approximately 186,280 miles per second, or about 700 million miles per hour — remains the absolute speed limit.

Source: Discovery

12 thoughts on “Loose Wire Blamed For Faster-Than-Light Mistaken Finding”

  1. My wife nailed this months ago! She correctly predicted it was a loose connection the day the report came out.

    Whenever something goes wrong, she says it “is a loose connection”, though, it’s the standing joke of the family.

  2. @Scott: It all depends on what you mean by “right,” that is sort of a squishy term in non-mathematical science. Einstein was more right than Newton; and quantum chromodynamics is more right than Einstein. Einstein used infinities that probably do not exist in nature; for example it is probably impossible for matter to collapse to an infinitely small point: Quantum physics would not allow it, due to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. (In fact, I have read that some speculative computations taking quantum effects into account produce the interesting result that the collapse would have to stop at a point that happens to coincide exactly with the event horizon).

    The same is true in some other arenas. Was Darwin right? Definitely! Okay, but in every single word he wrote about evolution? Not exactly, Darwin didn’t know about DNA and discrete mutations.

    The same could be said for chemistry, or weather, or astronomy, or medicine, or biology.

    Einstein’s General Relativity is ‘right’ in the sense that it predicts and explains a great deal more than anything before it, and it is ‘wrong’ in the sense that it apparently cannot be reconciled with other theories that are even more well tested and even more robustly predictive and explanatory.

    Newton produced an insanely useful approximation of physics. Chances are that Einstein and QCD are both just better approximations of physics, and hopefully someday we will prove them both ‘wrong’ with a new approach that encompasses them both, but explains the differences on the extreme edges of each. That is what Einstein did; GR differs from Newton only in the extreme values of speed, gravity, and mass. In Newton’s arena, GR corrections are so small they are quite nearly impossible to measure.

  3. Seems there were two things that concerned them, the loose wires, which would mean slower travelling particles, and ” an oscillator used to provide the time stamps for GPS synchronizations” that would mean FASTER travelling particles.

    Remember, Einstein said God didn’t play dice with the Universe because he didn’t believe quantum mechanics was right, so he wasn’t right about everything.

  4. It seems hard to believe they couldn’t find that in three years worth of experiments and months of trying to explain the fast neutrinos.

    It also seems to me that ALL experiments run on that equipment in the last three years are now suspect and must be revalidated, or they need an asterisk and footnote appended to their reports: *Run on faulty equipment.

    Besides that, a loose wire can only lengthen the time of the signal, not shorten it. That whole “speed of light limit.” remember? So what was it measuring, exactly?

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