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Repeat experiments offer same result: CERN's neutrinos still faster than light

CERN’s physicists have ruled out one possible error in their measurements – and still find neutrinos travelling faster than light itself.

Image: jronaldlee via Flickr

SCIENTISTS AT the world’s largest physics lab say they have ruled out a possible error which could have distorted their surprising measurements – which indicated that some sub-atomic particles can travel faster than light.

Physicists at CERN were sceptical when measurements by French and Italian researchers appeared to show neutrino particles breaking what Albert Einstein considered to be the ultimate speed barrier – by travelling a fraction faster than light.

Now CERN says more precise testing has confirmed the accuracy of at least one part of the experiment – adding credibility to the earlier findings which had surprised the scientific world.

The Geneva-based body said today that scientists changed the way the neutrino’s departure time was measured and got the same results, “ruling out one potential source of systematic error.”

The result would shatter a fundamental theory of physics – that nothing can travel faster than light itself – which has underpinned modern scientific thinking for over a century.

“A measurement so delicate and carrying a profound implication [for] physics requires an extraordinary level of scrutiny,” the president of Italy’s Institute for Nuclear Physics, Fernando Ferroni, said.

OPERA – the collaboration behind the already-famous experiments – said the reruns would not be considered conclusive, and it is thought that the results will not be considered universally reliable unless the test conditions had been replicated in other conditions.

Additional reporting by AP

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Gavan Reilly

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