Flaw in GPS setup found in faster-than-light neutrino test

This picture shows a view of the Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Racking Apparatus detector (OPERA) at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory (LNGS) located under the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy, Nov. 14, 2011. Scientists who threw down the gauntlet to physics by reporting particles that broke the Universe's speed limit said on late October 2011 they were revisiting their contested experiment with test showing that neutrinos had been measured along a 732-kilometre (454-mile) trajectory between the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland and the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy. ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

GENEVA - European researchers have found a flaw in the technical setup of an experiment that measured seemingly impossible faster-than-light particles.

A spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research says the problem may have affected the measurements that startled the science world last year because they appeared to contradict Albert Einstein's theories. 

Last September, researchers at Italy's Gran Sasso laboratory had said they tracked beams of subatomic particles from their source in Geneva to a target 760 kilometers away in Italy moving 60 nanoseconds faster than a beam of light making the same trip.

CERN spokesman James Gillies told The Associated Press late Wednesday that earlier this month scientists found a problem in the GPS system used to time the arrival of neutrino particles at an underground lab in Italy.

The website of the magazine Science reports that according to sources, "a bad connection between a fiber optic cable that connects to the GPS receiver used to correct the timing of the neutrinos' flight and an electronic card in a computer."

Gillies says only further measurements planned for later this year will confirm whether the problem introduced an error that made the neutrinos appear to move faster than light.

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