I am an employee of Argonne National Laboratory. I read in
an article in our internal newspaper, "The Argonne News," that a neutrino
travels from Illinois to north Minnesota in 1/400 second. I just don't see
how this can be. It reminds me of science fiction, where something can
travel from one spot to another instantly. Like in the "Bewitched"
television program. It even makes time travel seem possible. What do you
think could be some of the applications of the knowledge gained from the
MINOS experiments that will study the neutrino, besides learning more about
the universe (as if that weren't enough)? Could we actually use the
information in technology?
A lot if information nowadays is carried by radio waves and microwaves,
which travel at the speed of light. The Argonne News article says that the
neutrinos will travel about 450 miles to the detector in Minnesota. Since
light travels at 186,282 miles per second, light would take 450/186,282 =
.0024 seconds to make the same journey. That's a little less than 1/400 of
a second. So the neutrinos are traveling at about the speed of light. (We
don't know if they're traveling exactly at the speed of light or a little
slower: that depends if the neutrinos have mass or not. If they have
mass, they can't travel at exactly the speed of light; if they don't have
mass, they must travel at the speed of light.) So anyway, the neutrinos
couldn't carry information any faster than radio waves.
Richard Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
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Update: June 2012