Faster than Light Concern – Detecting Only 1 Neutrino per Hour

Regarding the potentially Faster than light Neutrinos, it is vital to realize that only about one (1) Neutrino is detected by Italy’s OPERA every hour; that’s one Neutrino per hour.

Compare that to how every square centimeter on Earth (facing the Sun) encounters some 65 billion solar neutrinos per second.

Neutrino Beam Path

Neutrino Beam PathCredit:OPERA

When that single neutrino hits in Italy, its timed arrival is associated (extrapolated back) to a recorded proton pulse at CERN by using the time it would take for a photon to travel the same distance.


The Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) sends pulses of protons so that they can be distinguished from a steady beam, but only one (1) neutrino is measured at the Italian detector, for every quadrillion protons fired from CERN’s SPS (16,111 neutrino hits for 10^20th protons fired over 3 years).

While OPERA researchers believe they know which pulse is sending the Neutrino detected, I am not at all confident that they know which proton (converted into pion, converted into muon-Neutrino, converted into) – neutrino they are measuring. It is not at all clear because there is just too little data at the detector.

Paraphrasing Mitchell Porter:

This is a statistical analysis. They are not matching up an individual detection at the emitter in Switzerland with an individual detection at the detector in Italy; they are taking averages and measuring statistical distributions. The interpretation of the starting time depends on which model of meson decay is employed.

To improve the experiment I would like to see clear pulses of detections (as opposed to one hit per hour). To do so they might consider increasing the proton beam density by at least 3, and probably 4 or 5 magnitudes until they get neutrino hits on the order of 1,000 to 10,000 per hour.

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One Response to Faster than Light Concern – Detecting Only 1 Neutrino per Hour

  1. Pingback: Must Faster-than Light Neutrinos Cause Cerenkov Radiation? | Cosmology Science Blog © 2011 David Dilworth

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