Fermilab to Review Super-Light-Speed Neutrinos

Physicists at CERN discovered neutrino particles that were exceeding the speed of light, which is rather stunning as it would prove Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity as wrong. So far, the news is met with doubt as highly influential scientists such as Jim Al-Khalili of the University of Surrey discredited the announcement as an error. Al-Khalili tweeted that he will eat his "boxer shorts on live TV" if "the neutrinos have broken the speed of light."

Following the first reactions, Fermilab announced that it will review and test CERN's results. For Fermilab, it is an interesting situation as researchers in the U.S. first reported super-lightspeed neutrinos back in 2007, but also noted that the results there was a margin of error measuring the actual speed. Physicists at Fermilab and CERN closely collaborate on many particle experiments, but are in an ongoing science competition as well.

Fermilab said it will update its 2007 MINOS experiment to test CERN's results within four to six months. MINOS uses two detectors - one on location at Fermilab in Batavia as well as the Far Detector at the Soudan Mine in Minnessota, which is about 450 miles away from Fermilab. The Far Detector is a 6000-ton steel detector that is used to search for modified neutrinos - more than one trillion man-made neutrinos pass through the detector each year, but only about 1500 of them collide with atoms inside the detector, Fermilab said.

MINOS currently employs about 200 scientists from 32 institutions in six countries.

The retest of the CERN results is likely to employ four to five people "with a better GPS system, an Atomic clock and LED lights to detect the neutrino stream as it is fired through MINOS from the originating point," according to a report published by TPM Idealab.

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