Best. research paper abstract. evar.

On, where astronomers and physicists post pre-publication research papers, the possibility of neutrinos that travel faster than the speed of light has led to dozens of new papers, including this one. So, even if FTL neutrinos end up being disproved, we at least know for certain that they will be responsible for one of the best research paper abstracts ever written.

Via Alan Boyle


  1. The solution is obvious and Einstein is still right.   There’s a wormhole in the rock between CERN and Gran Sasso.

    Not just a wormhole, but a alien spaceship, buried for millions of years.  It’s powered by two entangled quantum singularities separated by about 18 meters.  The neutrinos go in one, and pop out the other instantly, taking ~60ns off the trip time.

  2. My grandfather once got a test question along the lines of “What do you find interesting in the works of XYZ?”  To which he wrote “I found nothing interesting in the works of XYZ.”  Since his other body of work was so exemplary (his academic qualities did not swim much further down the gene pool regrettably) he got an A!

  3. You may think it’s a dumb abstract, but the question “can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement?” is one that we actually did hear being asked at the Philosophy of Physics meetings (evidenced by this whiteboard snap), so I’m pleased that someone went and took the time to go and analyse it properly….

  4. Double post FTW – to recap the counter arguments to the existence of superluminal neutrinos:

    1) 24 antineutrinos from supernova 1987A were detected in a 13 second window, three hours before the optical brightening of the exploding star
    2) there was a pre-existing calculation that indicated three hours is about the time it takes for a shockwave to go from the centre of the star to the surface and cause it to brighten, so we should expect a three hour gap if the neutrinos travelled to earth at the same speed as the light
    3) If the neutrino velocity discrepancy at Opera was applied to the 1987A neutrinos, then they would have arrived at earth three years before the light did, and no one would have seen them.
    4) Superluminal neutrinos would experience a drag mechanism analogous to Cerenkov radiation that would reduce their energy even over the 600km distance they are travelling in the Opera experiment
    5) There is an indication that the the velocity of the GPS satellites over the ground  and the rotation of the earth under the satellites produces a small Lorentz contraction of the distance between the source and detector that Opera hasn’t included – the time dilation and length contraction caused by this relative motion mean that the neutrinos see a shorter distance in flight than the scientists measure on the ground, which could account for the apparent ‘superluminal’ velocity

    In short the neutrinos are probably going close to `c’ and Opera is making a mistake in their distance measurement somehow, because their result looks to be inconsistent with other neutrino observations.

  5. Dumb computer scientist here — what does the title of this paper “translate to”? I know that recently we’ve seen some cases where particles seem to arrive too soon — faster than light — superluminal.

    What’s a “quantum weak measurement”? (wag answer: About 7 days)

    1. “What’s a “quantum weak measurement”? (wag answer: About 7 days) ”
      Measuring it changes the result. Causes the result? Eliminates all other results?

    2. A quantum weak measurement is when you have a quantum property with a fluctuation about the average due to uncertainty, and you discard all the measurement events where the fluctuation would have been less than the average. You keep a smaller sample that has a bias away from the true mean and call it the measurement result.

      e.g. suppose the neutrinos have an average speed that is the same as the speed of light.
      Due to the uncertainty principle, there is a fluctuation around that average speed. 
      If we could see every neutrino, we might find that some are slower than light and some are faster, in a way that’s consistent with Heisenbergs uncertainty principle.

      We only detect one in a billion billion neutrinos, so perhaps we are more sensitive to the neutrinos that happened to fluctuate to be marginally faster than light, and we’re less sensitive the ones that happened to fluctuate and travel marginally slower – since the neutrino detector throws away most of the signal, it could be detecting a biased subset and therefore reporting a value faster than light – if it did that it would be a quantum weak measurement – see

      – but Probably Not.

  6. It looks like they ripped off this classic paper:

  7. Is the sequence of earthquakes in Southern California, with aftershocks removed, Poissonian?
                     -J.K. Gardner and L. Knopoff
                     -Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics University of California, Los Angeles



    (The paper basically says that the timing of earthquakes can be modeled as a Poisson process, that is, the probability of an earthquake occurring at any given time is independent of the time of the last earthquake.  i.e. earthquakes cannot be predicted)

    1. Nope, just waiting to develop the tools and techniques to properly explain it, model it, then use it to make correct predictions.

      It seems a fairly more careful approach, unlike the uses i’ve seen of the god theory, were it’s proponents have failed to predict the end of the world… how many times this year, four?

  8. I rather think that such abstraction of a work is rubbish. An abstract to my knowledge tries to resume a entire work pointig towards  a conclusion. As I understand it the conclusionto that question  would appear as  ” POSSIBLY the answer is negative”. Possible is different to PROBABLY and the task of research people is To Prove Hypothesis but not misleading others into possibilities….Mistaken joke

  9. Neutrinos are sent from the past and so arrive early.  Try measuring the neutrinos at the start instead of measuring the proton beam pulses that generate the neutrinos. 

    Particles are four dimensional objects ie they exist in the present and in the past. When the particles are reconfigured some of the energy tracks our universe but just a little in the past. The neutrinos are therefor hardly of our universe and only interact when they hit the very small tails that hang in the fourth dimension below particles with mass. 

    The joke is that the fourth dimension of space is not time, but space, as in the speed of light multiplied by time. 

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