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The OPERA neutrino result

September 22, 2011

Mohan, mdashf

I will just append two of my comments on the measurement and it’s result and not append a few more I made, unless I again feel like. Some of the reflections of these new additional remarks have already been talked in the body of this article. SO as I go on adding these expect some twist but also expect some clarity. In the end I see that some of my ideas are being accepted in some form or other because when someone understands teh implication I make he can chose to not cite me in some form or other and derive a few more ideas based on that and make his remark. But then it’s just a random personal comment I am making, nothing serious. Because with time I can tell more and more and they will just come under the precinct of how we are going to modify what we already know. Less spoken here is two more comment. Don’t look for a chronology, leave that to me and keep the same to you. I may forget mine but you will not, I bet ya.

MS: Wow do neutrinos travel faster than light? This has enormous implications for Physics if this experiment is right.

Me: This experiment is wrong, neutrinos still could have a much higher or much lower speed than photons irrespective of this measurement, but the measurement should first of all be correctd. I am just too sceptical of their methods. They have certainly used relativistic principles based on the photon speed (present theory of relativity) If they were to prove their neutrino speed is higher they needed first a hypothesis that constructs a basic theory of relativity based on neutrino speed and the mass of neutrino they use. And there are so many sources of these error creeping in, because we use photon-speed-relativity everywhere in our calculations, from adding 4-vectors to boosting, to particle kinematics to PDG values and GEANT simulation. All these occurences must be checked first for sources of error. I don’t think they have done this. A serious disadvantage to prove their hypothesis.

MS: Read and critique the paper before dismissing the result.

Me: I did not dismiss the result, from their public news before their archive publication (wow) it was clear that they were doing something wrong. My arguments are without what methods they are following in their paper, hence before reading the paper, my arguments were merely based on possible/potential error sources. Now I have read very carefully their 24 page paper. (while the details of each step of their experiment has to be studied very carefully for each source of error, and there are literally 100s) I stand corrected about my argument (after reading their paper) they have not thought from that angle at all (at the end of the paper they mentioned: we do not deleberately do any theory or phenomenology) that was my point, all the kinematic laws are based on a speed of photon hence a good source of error if neutrinos were to be more fundamental. after reading the paper this still stands as such. The worry I have added after reading the paper is: they have fixed the speed of light and speed of neutrino to one value. It’s a bias source. Since it’s a difference in speed between neutrino and photon they shoudl actually float both parameters within a range of speed of light. I think if they adequately answer these two question I will accept it as a fundamental experiment, given with a changed value, may be much more difference. (my other question of rest mass of neutrino seems to be negligible at this point, 10^ -19 in timeunit)

end to my appended remarks.

This article I wrote before the webcast was out (which I haven’t seen) and before the long paper was put on archive (which now I have read). I made some quick edits after reading the paper, all of my remarks after reading the paper, are put as a preface to the article, which will follow. The old article that I wrote originally will follow the preface. But before the preface I am going to put here some thoughts in the contrary of all that I remarked, in the case of the OPERA result coming out to be indeed correct, as a fact of nature.

here is what I think of it in the matter of nature being in favor of OPERA neutrinos, that is, neutrino travel faster than photons, howsoever little that speed excess is.

1. It does not matter as has been pointed out by a few, what energy scale the neutrinos belong to, the supernovae bunch reaching earlier than the light from the explosion, observed in 1980s (1987?) It is immaterial from the basic idea of special theory of relativity which says as long as something is massless no matter what energy available to it, it will move at the speed c. (isn’t it?) SO 20GeV neutrinos at OPERA or MeV range neutrinos from the supernovae, photons will always move at c. If the neutrinos has less energy, it is the problem of the neutrinos, who is asking them to run faster? If they do so despite of their mass, that’s what we are concerned about. For this part of the discussion (as I just pointed out above) let’s say OPERA result is correct, the neutrinos reach at-least 60ns earlier than photon despite of their 2eV mass. How does that change the situation reg. all our understanding and calculations based on a photon-speed-relativity?

2. To answer the question in 1 above: most people are surmising a doomsday for theory of relativity and Einstein. OK few of us understand that it is indeed a pep talk, some one made a crazy comment on facebook and I do not recall what exactly he said, so I am not going to check what he said, because for one thing most of the things we say belong to that category. Veritas is not something they ever heard in their life-time. To cede it to someone else who in his blog described very nicely why this is not going to do any harm to Albert Einstein’s reputation, he gave a two pointed description of what relativity is. I wrote a paragraph as a reply agreeing with him but did not post, it is much more pleasurable to post your disagreement (evil, evil). Apply that on me and get my hammer. The points were and as a few of us enlightened understand this: there are two things: i. speed limit of nature ii. speed of photon. Einstein survives because he can only be incorrect partly, namely in teh second part. First of all Einstein wasn’t doing particle physics. In his days even neutrinos were unheard of, when he heard of neutrinos he didn’t have any reason to rethink Relativity, and so on. It came much later when it was proposed that neutrino may be a massless kind hence have the same status as is regarded to the photon. By this time he was not among us on earth.

What he had in his mind, as an advocate I can say, since I have studied part of his relativity text in year 2000, is there must be something in nature that has the ultimate speed. Since photon was readily available and it’s Maxwell speed was known, it was easy for him to recognize this and he with his genius touch made it pertinent that nothing moves faster than light, it was an ordeal from Einsten for decades to come. No particle reactions were known then (except perhaps potentially) When particle physics took shape, many kinematical principles came into being and it was widely recognized, since particles were relativistic in nature, that, when the kinetic energy is much higher than the rest mass, these particles are moving at speeds very close to that of photon. SO perhaps Einstein was also sure that if anyday photon speed will be violated it is not a deathblow to relativity, his basic reasoning that are to be found in his work are merely as pointed by the unmentioned blogger above partly: the speed limit as a concept was integrated to the conservation of energy and other fundamental characteristics of our Universe. namely I remeber him saying in his book, about symmetry and coordinate and geodesics. Now I am not bringing here geodesic but rather symmetry and coordinate transformation. SO as Prof. Sean Caroll points out, as a result of “OPERA violation” perhaps Lorentz invariance will need to be violated. I disagree completely. That will be a deathblow to Physics for ever. It represents merely space-time rotation-translation and transformations when the speed is quite quite high.

What will happen? It will open a whole new sector for theory, not because it is new fundamental physics, but it’s a new finding which forces us to remodel only our formulas, not the underlying physics. That still is a cumbersome process because all our calculations have involved the c or photon-speed-relativity. SO experimentalists also need to open a new avenue of modifying their calculations and formula.

But if you think of it, it’s really simple. All the invariance and symmetry are still valid because we have observed them through experiments, the values everywhere will change slightly, everywhere, hence new avenues. Perhaps the photon-speed-relativity survived the test of experiment because the neutrino speed is only slightly above the photon’s. In any case when we did not know teh photon or light waves or their speed we still had classical mechanics which was valid, classical mechanics is still valid with required modifications. Realtivity will go such modifications, but this time far less remarkable things are to be welcome because i. relativity is simple, only a speed limit, ii. the new found speed limit is only a very small fraction from the present limit.

The modification therefore goes only into such variables as Lorentz Boost Factor, c >> c_neu. period. a very slight change to Lorentz boost is why we have been getting all of particle physics results despite of the fact that c is not a speed limit.

But no change to any principles or laws. But look here for a remarkable change if that is possible indeed, great minds will work it out and I am not a great mind. I am a waste-kid. The change is perhaps it is the photon that indeed has a mass but the neutrino does not, but since we are prejudiced with the photons being massless and photon speeds are everywhere in the calculations, we do not see neutrinos to be massless rather the photons to be. If indeed OPERA violations holds good calculations and modifications will show the way if this is indeed correct that neutrino do not have mass, they travel the fastest, slightly above photon, photons have mass hence they travel slightly below the neutrino speed and they could never reach the neutrino speed, if that becomes the case, even a tiny difference in neutrino speed is going to cause much consternations in the world of science for a long long time, till we have modified everything for their correctness.

SO theoreticians do not really have to take much headache, everyone needs to.

Now the old stuff which is seeing the contradictory nature of the experimental measurement in case it is really invalid, for what ever reason and I have pointed out two reasons, one interference from an old established theory affecting the measurement, call it a bias or systematic error or interference (from theory). The other reason is experimental artifact of sorts, where bias comes because how we are treating parameters to be fixed or floated.

READ ON, for the whole story I wrote.

by the way before you proceed reading anything here, I must say this: I must confess that the experiment is very meticulous, I liked the care with which it has been done. It’s a great experimental measurement, but some basic things haven’t been adequately addressed, and I point out such. I read a prominent blog and discussion there and came across many relevant questions that are very pertinent and will only make the measurement a truly remarkbale one if these are all addressed adequately. Regarding my OLD question which you will come across here, you will see that they need to hypothesize a new theoretical aparatus such as neutrino-ultimate-speed-based special theory, and combine it with their likelihood function to remove the bias from a photon-ultimate-speed-based special relativity theory.

This article was written hours before I knew that the publication is now available on archive. After reading the staggering 24 page paper (you subtract the reference and auth-list) I still have one of my most important question which is valid as I expected. I gained another question, which I will append here before you move to the old question: (the question reg. rest mass of neutrino seems to be addressed accurately in the paper, but the other two are more prominent in deciding the fate of this result)

new question1:
I m astonished at their experimental measurement where they have equated speed of light and speed of neutrino to arrive at a difference from the measurement. Shuldn’t hey have floated these parameters especially when the difference between the two particles is the main question???

new question 2:
page 5 (of paper): they have an optimized neu_m -> neu_t beam, which at-least means they have a distribution of neutrino-definite mass. By using maximum mass of 2eV (page 3) they have a maximum error of speed difference to 10^(-19) [reference 4 they say, I need to check] Do they give a detailed graph/method of this, if you have read !! (this was one of my central points last night, the rest-mass or potential energy need to be taken care of, actually from a neutrino-speed, photon-speed no intereference basis)

Old question: (the old article from yesterday, from here to the end)
Why the OPERA results of neutrinos having speed higher than photons may easily be proved to be invalidated or carelessness?

The OPERA experiment could be manifestly inconsistent if they are using Relativity principles to prove that relativity is wrong. [eg. “I am using 5 = 5 to prove 5 is not equal to 5”]

To be consistent they have to make sure everywhere they are using their equations they are not using inconsistencies, eg their adding of the 4-vectors, how they are boosting their Lorentz vectors and so on, they can not use speed of light principles there. [present formulations of Relativity, special]

To verify speed limit of nature they need to do a completely independent experiment, eg like a Michaelson Morley set up, in the former case of the independent experiment they carry out, they can not at all use any relativistic boosting, relativistic additions, relativistic particle kinematics etc … No single formula of Relativity must be used, all the decay reactions that are into the experiment must first shed all photon-speed-relativity before their values will be used. They have too many assmptions to take care:

1. neutrino speed is highest hence the realtivistic additions etc are modified suitably before being used, they can not say we will use photon-speed-relativity, they have to first of all separate photon-speed-relativity from neutrino-speed-relativity.

2. neutrinos have mass or not? If they use the 2nd assumption then it makes more sense if while at the same time satisfying condition 1 above, the experiment is carried out independently to measure speed from 1st principles of distance/time. Because if the neutrinos do have mass, the photons will always have more speed just to conserve the energy, no matter which relativity is used, photon-speed or neutrino-speed. If they have used results from experiment which claims evidence for non-zero neutrino mass, they have to take this as given and calculate as such, that is using the condtion 1 above they have to first subtract the potential energy of the neutrino from the total energy available to it from neutrino-speed-relativity.

The Einstein in me says: because you can always give the same energy to photons and neutrinos and photon being massless it will travel faster than neutrinos for a given energy. It has got nothing to do with theory of Relativity, but simple classical mechanics where the kinetic energy, hence the speed, is more if potential energy is ZERO. WE have on one hand evidenced that neutrinos are not massless from their oscillation, so the same experiment that uses this result (that is, in their data-analysis they use the fact that neutrinos have mass) can not prove that neutrinos move faster than light when they have mass. SEE condition 2 above. The only way this makes sense is if the neutrinos are massless themselves they have a chance to supercede the photon speed because they are both massless which was the only qualification criteria to be verified by experiment exclusively where theory does not have a say as long as the experiment is carried out from first principles. Once you have mass you are naturally failing some of the criteria, so first condition 1 of neutrino-speed-relativity is chosen for ALL calculations and a suitable potential energy is subtracted according to the evidenced mass of neutrino that is being input.

The neutrinos would define a new speed limit in nature only if they are massless which is not the case [edit: which is not the case?], no harm done, since instead of c we’ll just have a different constant and all our Physics equations will change slightly, call it an experimental systematics for the values of speed limit of nature, photons did not posses these but another bunch of massless particles did, although that still means a lot of calculations to adjust all our theories.

But if neutrinos have a mass which is the evidence from various experiments, and most likely used by OPERA itself, they are already doing something inconsistent most likely, that would only mean neutrino can never exceed the photon for the same amount of energy hence photons travel faster. If they use the above criteria (at-least the above) of separating neutrino-speed-relativity from photon-speed-relativity from all calculations and subtracting the potential energy of the neutrinos from it’s total energy available from neutrino-speed-relativity and get a speed higher than photons they have made a remarkable natural principle that the neutrinos despite their mass has a speed higher than massless photons and the theory of relativity must be modified according to the speed of with-mass neutrino.

It rather seems from OPERA public news that they have not at all thought of this implication of internal inconsistencies brought about by wishful usage of nature’s principles and claiming a new law. Because they have not disclosed any such carefullness in their methods except from the regular way particle physics research is done, by using relativity prinicples, doing all the data analysis with suave techniques and extreme hard work and claiming a more than 5-sigma discovery.

That is not going to work here since they are trying to disprove something that is implicitly present in all the monte-carlo, all the PDG calculations, all the GEANT simulations and so on. It’s a nasty interference between theory and experiment and they must come clean to first make them completely independent from each other because the variation is only a tiny tiny part from each other.


As a reply to Mike Franzen from Sweden, my facebook-chap who keeps me awake when I want to sleep, I wrote the following. He assumes that the experiment is consistent and indeed made a discovery and he plays his tinkering mind to come with explanations. But my position is completely sceptical, I am extending them my understanding as a seasoned experimentalist in particle physics and basic physicist who thinks nitty gritties of all fundamental principles first before coming up with a sigh of peace. Here is my reply to Franzen:

Tunneling says a possibility of a particle entering a region when there is lesser energy available to it than the barrier of potential energy. SO tunneling actually deals with uncertainty of energy etc favoring a particle to be on the other side.

I will read the article you have linked, I read just another, so this will provide more info.

But my point is not based on quantum mechanics. We don’t have to go that far to prove what is silly with OPERA, just opera?? I am extending simple classical mechanics principles of energy conservation, kinetic energy and hence speed will be higher  for neutrino or photons depends on various factors (for photon mass=0, no pot. energy, for neutrino, two cases, neutrino mass = 0 or not, what they are using?? SO a suitable subtraction of potential energy of neutrinos must be made first depending on what they use, zero or non-zero mass).

The added degree of check is theory of relativity, they can not use photon-speed based laws (these are filled everywhere in particle physics processes which they have used, PDG, decay reactions, topography, kinematics, GEANT detector simulation, every where, so every result they use eg all the previous results which may have a trace of this inconsistency must be adequately addressed first by formulating a relativity theory based on neutrino-speed (and mass too if nonzero value is used from another experimnt)

Once that has been done all the calculations in the experiment must be based on the latter neutrino theory. If they see a difference between photon speed and neutrino speed where latter is higher they have found a blow to realtivity theory as it’s propounded by Einstein. Before that they have to blow me out. If they can not blow my points off, they are only day-dreaming to blow Einstein, since Einstein hardly thought about any particle reactions in propounding his theories.

But since Einstein’s time we have in all our experiments of particle physics used so many techniques that are correlated to Einstein’s fundamental prinicples that they have to first be answerable to the particle physics process laws that they use, before Einstein’s idea. Once they can blow us apart (the experimental physicists in particle physics, which they themselves are) do they have a chance to blow Einstein’s coffin. Or they should just drink some more beer at conferences.


It is not about proving Einstein wrong which seem to be the crux of interest the whole scientific community seems like dwelling on, it is how bogus you come out to be when you make the silliest mistakes of doing experiment and keeping it separate from theory, again and again we are just hitting madcap at the ethos of good science. Like the CDF result of particle bumps where they were varying the energy of only signal events here OPERA is doing something blunderously silly. And I know what it is that they are doing. Bet me 100/100 I will win, they are doing bogus not just on experiment but in not keeping it separate from very basic physics even without relativity or quantum mechanics. They do not understand basic physics but they also do not understand what is experiment of particle physics, where the errors of their experiment is actually creeping in, it is not like they are observing a supernovae for the first time. They ought to have had carved out the experimental method of how to check something as fundamental as the speed of neutrino being greater than the speed of photon when they are using theory of relativity everywhere, they must have had been careful with that aspect.

ddddddddddrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr OPERA, you are truly an opera … [if you are truly inconsistent, despite of the fact that neutrino speed can be far higher than what you have reported, then this is a case of “science always wins” despite of your silly mistakes And in that case we have to still understand and modify Relativity, special if necessary.]

But here is what you maybe doing:
like each of the equation halves the sell of a book of popularizing science, each of the theory of relativity equation and inconsistency from potential energy of neutrino not subtracted which again can not use theory of relativity equation, OPERA has gradually added a factor per equation, each factor being different, into their experiment errors which now looks like a higher speed of neutrino. They were possibly trying to popularize their science and forgot to not include equatios, lol 😉

Note that if this error means a much higher difference of neutrino speed than they have claimed, going either way, smaller than photon speed or larger than it, they have committed this mistake because they included wrong equations in their popularization of science, lol 😉 and too many of them than they could have handled. They will come out gradually if they will do the experiment again, carefully.

lesson: no mtter what form of popularization of science you prefer, never resort to equations. Science is already popular on it’s own, you just need to giggle and chuckle and pull faces and bring your favorite suits when you take the picture and crack a humor. NO equations. OKein?

Keep me updated on what you find … I hven’t had a santa-fe chicken sandwich or a honey-mustard french fry since a long lone time. I haven’t had a a lot of good things since a long time, I am not a sadistic I am just working hard. If you find good reasons kee me posted. I will pray to all the Gods in the world that they give you a little more judgement like Galileo when doing complicated things, but if you like my humor send me a santa-fe chicken sandwich.

mAnMoHaN dAsH

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