Everyone was kind of amazed last September when scientists at CERN identified neutrinos that appeared to travel faster than the speed of light and jump about 30 nanoseconds into the future. There was a lot of talk about how this kind of blew up a lot of what we thought we knew about the fundamental laws of physics. A second test in November appeared to more or less agree with the earlier finding.
While it’s hard to grasp the ramifications of what that all means, it’s somewhat easier to grasp what might actually be the problem: screwy computer equipment. CERN now says there were two possible defects.
"The first possible effect concerns an oscillator used to provide the time stamps for GPS synchronisations. It could have led to an overestimate of the neutrino's time of flight," CERN said in a statement.
"The second concerns the optical fibre connector that brings the external GPS signal to the OPERA master clock, which may not have been functioning correctly when the measurements were taken. If this is the case, it could have led to an underestimate of the time of flight of the neutrinos," the research facility added