Looks like those neutrinos that arrived 60 nanoseconds ahead of schedule in that CERN experiment, the one that everyone keeps claiming proves relativity incorrect in the absolute speed limit of the universe, may have been mismeasured after all.
To get a clearer picture, the distance the neutrinos traveled is straightforward. They began in CERN and were measured via global positioning systems. However, the Gran Sasso Laboratory is located beneath the Earth under a kilometre-high mountain. Regardless, the OPERA team took this into account and provided an accurate distance measurement of 730 km to within tolerances of 20 cm. The neutrino flight time is then measured by using clocks at the opposing ends, with the team knowing exactly when the particles left and when they landed.
But were the clocks perfectly synchronized?
Keeping time is again the domain of the GPS satellites which each broadcasting a highly accurate time signal from orbit some 20,000km overhead. But is it possible the team overlooked the amount of time it took for the satellite signals to return to Earth? In his statement, van Elburg says there is one effect that the OPERA team seems to have overlooked: the relativistic motion of the GPS clocks.
Meaning, rather than overturning relativity, the researchers just missed a potential variable.
I want faster than light travel to exist, because otherwise, crossing the vast gulfs of space between stars in a human lifetime is going to be impossible and Star Trek type universes are likewise impossible. But I’m not going to de facto assume that faster than light travel happened just because some practically insignificant amount of time was shaved off of an extraordinarily short distance. My money was always on a mismeasurement. And if the GPS clocks’ relativity resulted in a roughly 64ns delay in the timing, that fully accounts for the 60ns difference. The napkin calculation I linked before on a RCimT post pretty much says it all — if we got neutrinos that travelled that amount faster than the speed of light from a star we’ve been studying for some time, then it means we’d be getting some neutrinos several years ahead of schedule.
Edit: Bah, DarkSyde got to this before me. Ah well.