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FTL Neutrinos Explained... Maybe 226

The Bad Astronomer writes "A new paper, recently posted on the arXiv physics preprint server, claims to have explained the faster-than-light neutrino experiment from last month. The author claims the motion of the GPS satellite introduces a relativistic dilation that accounts for the now-infamous 60 ns discrepancy in neutrino flight time. However, I'm not so sure; the original experimenters claimed to have accounted for relativistic effects. I don't think we've seen the end of this just yet."
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FTL Neutrinos Explained... Maybe

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  • Re:Highly Doubtful (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @09:05PM (#37727334)

    Maybe its because GPS understands relativity well enough to get planes to the correct runway...

    GPS understands relativity well enough to require General Relativistic corrections. This paper suggests that the GPS clock is inaccurate and suffers a lag based on location which, since GPS requires accurate timing to pinpoint your location a 64ns time difference would put you 20m off your correct location. In addition the author uses a very simplistic model of GPS clock and satellite for getting the clock. I would also have assumed that the GPS clock is based on multiple satellites since it has to know your location to calculate the propagation delay and it does this by comparing one satellite clock to another. However the final nail in the coffin is that he doesn't know how to spell photon (it is not spelt foton!) I have extreme doubts that this is paper is correct. In fact I'd need to hear from a GPS expert that his simplistic model is reasonable because I don't believe that it is (but then I'm not a GPS expert!).

    I'm not an expert either although I have worked on GPS aircraft navigation and augmentation systems. You are right that the GPS clock is based on multiple satellites. A GPS fix needs a minimum of four satellites, and the receiver triangulates position in 4-dimensions: the three spatial dimensions and time (four unknowns, four data points). What's more, those 4 will not be in the same plane (the satellites themselves form 6 orbital planes), so the bit in the article about "The orbits of these satellites are at 20.2 106 m from the earth’s surface in a fixed planes inclined 55 from the equator with an orbital period of 11 h 58 min [3]. This implies that they fly predominantly West to East when they are in view of CERN and Gran Sasso, which is roughly parallel to the line CERN-Gran Sasso" looks to me like a fundamental misunderstanding of the satellite orbits. The satellites on which a time fix is based will not all be travelling in the same direction. It is possible to use other position information as data points, and so reduce the number of satellites needed for a fix, but I'm not sure why anybody would do that when they can improve accuracy by using all visible satellites (and anyway, even if they did use a single satellite plus accurately known spatial position, the author of the paper still wouldn't know which orbital plane the satellite used was, and so wouldn't know the direction of movement).

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @10:32PM (#37727820)

    Through the ground.

    Just like you don't need to remove the air in a "tunnel" between point A and point B to send a beam of light between them, you don't need to remove the rock in a "tunnel" between point A and point B to send a beam of neutrinos between then. Of course enough air will block the light as and several hundred light years of solid rock would block the neutrinos. 900km of rock however is not going to do anything, digging a tunnel would make no difference at all.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @10:33PM (#37727824)

    Photons don't make it though the 900km of rock.

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