Results from independent cross-checks of last month's FTL neutrino findings wont start rolling in for at least a few more months. In the meantime, however, physicists at the OPERA lab who made the initial observations will be running their experiment yet again — only this time they'll be measuring things a little differently.
In the original experiments, physicists fired off protons from CERN in extended streams that lasted on the order of 10 millionths of a second. That might not seem like a long time, but it's long enough to release so many subatomic particles that it becomes impossible to look at the flight time of any discrete group of particles, let alone a single neutrino.
So in the researchers' revised experimental design, protons will be fired in a series of abbreviated bursts that are thousands of times shorter in duration that those of the original experiments. This new method should, in theory, give the OPERA researchers a more detailed look at what's going on with these particles on their 732-kilometer trip from Switzerland to Italy.
"It's like sending a series of loud and isolated clicks instead of a long blast on a horn," explains Rutgers University physicist Matt Strassler, one of the scientists who has taken issue with the OPERA team's original methods. "In the latter case you have to figure out exactly when the horn starts and stops, but in the former you just hear each click and then it's already over."
The results of the revised experiment should be in by December. OPERA researchers hope to include their new measurements in the manuscript that they'll be submitting for peer review and publication in the coming months.