Ridiculous: A Loose Cable Caused Those 'Faster-Than-Light' Particles

We know that Einstein always has the last laugh, but this is hilarious: the faster-than-light particles that could have wrecked his relativity theory are no more. It was a mistake in the test results caused by a loose cable.

Didn't anyone from the Genius Bar tell them about the first rule of tech support? Check your cables first! Oh, scientists!

Researchers at CERN have found out that a bad fiber-optics link between a GPS unit and a computer was causing the 60 nanosecond timing discrepancy that was driving everyone mad. Once they realized this, the cable was tightened and the difference was gone. Yes, the faster-than-light neutrinos are not real (at least, we haven't detected them if they exist) and the Universe can breathe once again and keep destroying galactic wonders.

Apparently, the 60 nanosecond difference comes from the time it took to the data to travel through the cable, which fully accounts for the unexplainable 60 nanosecond neutrino speedup.

Surprising experiment

Last year, physicists published the results of a 3-year experiment that timed about 16,000 neutrino packets launched from CERN facilities in Geneva, travelling through Earth and arriving 2.43 milliseconds later to the subterranean facilities of Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory. There, the Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus (the OPERA particle detector) recorded the hits.

When scientists discovered that the particles were arriving 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light—with only a 10 nanosecond error margin—they freaked out. Most physicists pointed out that this must be a mistake, since Einstein's theory clearly establishes that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

But CERN repeated the experiments and found the same results, which further puzzled out everyone. Still, they vowed to find the cause of the problem or definitely confirm the shocking findings. Now, it seems that a lousy cable connection was the simple answer to the whole problem.

Researchers say that they have to test the whole thing again, but it looks like the mystery may have been solved. Meanwhile, Einstein's atoms are laughing somewhere in space. [Science]

(Photo Credit: Ruth Orkin/Premium Archive/Getty Images)