Friday, October 07, 2011

Cohen-Glashow Argument

Bee:And for all I know you need a charge for Cherenkov radiation and neutrinos don't have one.

Fig. 1: Cerenkov radiation involves the nearly continuous emission of photons by a charged particle moving faster than the speed of light in its vicinity. The charged particle gradually radiates away its energy. Cohen-Glashow emission involves the occasional creation, near a speeding neutrino, of an electron-positron pair, in which the neutrino loses a large fraction of its energy in one step.

But these details almost don’t matter, because Cohen and Glashow then put another chunk of powerful evidence on the table. They point out that neutrinos have been observed, at two other experiments, SuperKamiokande and IceCube, 100 to 1000 times more energetic than the neutrinos in OPERA’s beam. These neutrinos come out of the earth having traveled many hundreds or thousands of kilometers across interior of the planet. The fact that these neutrinos did not lose most of their energy while traveling all that distance implies that they, too, did not undergo CG emission. In short, they must have traveled very close to, and conservatively no more than about fifteen parts per billion faster than, the speed of light in empty space. (The limit from IceCube data may be as good as ten parts per trillion!)See: Is the OPERA Speedy Neutrino Experiment Self-Contradictory?