Ask a Physicist Answers

If the recent result of the tests of the speed of the neutrino are validated by other research groups what are its implications for the standard model of particle physics as it has been described to date?

standard-model

By MissMJ [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Answer: It’s too early to say. We don’t know enough yet about what the OPERA result would mean if it’s true. For example, some people think there’s a force field in the neighborhood of the Earth that is causing this effect, and that neutrinos would not seem to go faster than light in free space. In that case, no fundamental modification of the standard model would be necessary. Whatever happens, though, we know that the standard model, and the theory of relativity on which it is based, work extremely well, and we will not be throwing them away even if neutrinos go faster than light. We will learn something new and may have to make small changes. But time will tell.

Answered by:

Alan Chodos, PhD
Associate Executive Officer
The American Physical Society

Submitted by:

Joe Clark from Ohio