Neutrinos may move faster than light, but double-checking the results is decidedly slower, as the team prepares to submit a paper for publication.
Last month the OPERA collaboration at Gran Sasso, Italy, announced that neutrinos had arrived from CERN, 730 kilometres away in Switzerland, 60 nanoseconds faster than light speed. The controversial claim triggered a flood of criticism, support and speculation from the rest of the physics world.
Some OPERA team members have reservations too. Fifteen of the 160-strong collaboration did not sign their names to the preprint of the paper because they considered the results too preliminary.
“I didn’t sign because I thought the estimated error was not correct,” says OPERA team member Luca Stanco of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Italy, adding he thinks it is larger than the stated 10 nanoseconds.
Now it appears that the cautious voices have won out. The collaboration has begun a new set of measurements to be completed before submitting the paper to a peer-reviewed journal.
The team is sending tighter bunches of particles from CERN, allowing a more precise measurement of the time it takes neutrinos to get from one lab to the other. The team will take data from 21 October to 6 November, and expect to see between 10 and 15 neutrinos over that time. “If it works, then we will have sufficient accuracy, no problem,” Stanco says.
Dmitri Denisov, a physicist at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, says it is standard procedure to wait to publish a paper until everyone in the collaboration has signed on. “We really strive to have full agreement,” he says. “In some cases it takes months, sometimes up to a year, to verify that everyone in the collaboration is happy.”