Friday, 21 October 2011
Icarus Weighs In
The ICARUS project, located like the OPERA project in Gran Sasso, near L'Aquila, has added a negative piece of info to the riddle of the faster than light neutrinos.
Basically, we already know that subatomic particles can appear to outstrip the speed of light when travelling in a non-vacuum medium, such as water.That's because the speed of light itself is lower than in vacuo.
When this occurs, the particles carry a momentum which is anomalous for their real speed, and so on re entering vacuum they lose this momentum as extra energy in the form of radiation - the so called Cerenkov Radiation.
The neutrinos apparently caught exceeding the universal speed limit last month did not exhibit this tell tale radiation, although so far nobody has actually negated the experimental results.
So what are we to make of this? It seems that the supraluminal behaviour of the little neutral ones was not occasioned by a change of travelling medium.
Theories are abounding, from extra-dimensional motion to instrumental error, but so far no one explanation has been seen to hold the day.
We'll have to wait this one out some more, I think.