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Neutrinos Move Near Light Speed in New CERN Experiment

March 16, 2012

A new experiment indicates that neutrinos don’t move faster than the speed of light, adding to evidence that an earlier measurement may have been inaccurate, according to the institute in charge of the research project.

Measurements taken at a laboratory in Gran Sasso, Italy, as part of the experiment, dubbed Icarus, showed seven neutrinos traveled in a time consistent with the speed of light, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, said today in a statement.

CERN said in September a neutrino beam was measured in its Opera experiment as traveling faster than the speed of light, appearing to break the cosmic speed limit described by Albert Einstein in his theory of relativity in 1905. The Opera finding may have been flawed because of a technical malfunction in timing instruments, CERN said last month.

“The evidence is beginning to point toward the Opera result being an artifact of the measurement,” CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci said in a statement.

More experiments are scheduled to take place in May to arrive at a “final verdict,” CERN said.

“These are difficult and sensitive measurements to make and they underline the importance of the scientific process,” said Carlo Rubbia, the spokesman for the Icarus experiment and a 1984 Nobel Prize winner in physics.

Neutrinos, subatomic particles fired from CERN’s Geneva base to a laboratory 730 kilometers (450 miles) away in Gran Sasso were clocked at a velocity 20 parts per million above the speed of light, the organization said in September.

To contact the reporter on this story: Makiko Kitamura in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at

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