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***UPDATE***  The race has been fixed.  OPERA believes they’ve found an answer, and all of the responsible particles have been “silenced” and it has to do with a faulty GPS plug!  Pay no attention to those men behind the betting curtains…  See below for details.  We hope you all ignore this as silly fantasy — there is no such thing as neutrino racing/betting

QSDWire – Geneva, Switzerland

It all started out simply enough…just another physics experiment sending particles on a 730 kilometer journey from CERN, on the Swiss-French border near Geneva, to the INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare) Gran Sasso Laboratory in central Italy.  Just watchin’ to see muon neutrinos transform into tau neutrinos.  You know, nothing big.  Just another day in the project called OPERA (“Oh, Please Explain Relativity Again”, we think).

Little did the OPERA operatives (try saying that ten times fast) know that this day was just the beginning.  Little did they know the neutrinos they received, a full 61 billionths of a second earlier than the speed of light allows, were a harbinger of what was to come.  For the OPERA operatives unknowingly had shed light on a little known, seedy world – a world infested with addicts and high stakes crime – the world of – neutrino racing.

Oh sure, many have alternative explanations for the OPERA findings.  Still more exhibit skepticism over the published result:  “We cannot explain the observed effect in terms of presently known systematic uncertainties.”  But we here at the QSDWire can, and it’s a sad story that has even enveloped one of our own.

The 730 kilometer “OPERA” racetrack between CERN and INFN is one of the most unheralded but popular racing and betting lepton tracks in the known universe.  Pitting neutrinos against each other (and even other leptons, such as electrons and tau’s) as frequently as, well, as frequently as the CERN folks run their experiments, the OPERA track and adjacent casino (with full betting pit) is a magnet for the scum of the Universe.

Rough And Tumble World Of Neutrino Racing
Do you see the alien scum?

They come to see the ultimate race, pitting fundamental particle against particle, brother neutrino against brother neutrino.  “You shoulda seen the triple crown race last month, it was a race to the death between a couple of electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos and a tau neutrino,” breathlessly whispers a neutrino gambler who shall remain nameless.

Lepton Racing
Lepton Racing: “And into the final stretch, it’s Neutrino 1 ahead of Tau 2 by a nose…”

“But never take a photon giving 10 microseconds in a muon race…that’s a bet for suckers,” the gambler assures us.

The seedier side of neutrino racing, however, whispers about fixed races, preset finishes and big winnings by only the real neutrino players.  No jockey, driver, handler or mechanic is beyond reproach.  Still, the races up ’til this fateful day were largely self-regulated by, among other things, the laws of physics.

Particles can only go so fast, they said.  The speed of light is the upper limit, we were assured.

But then it happened.  With a lot of money riding on the favored “stalemate” between neutrino and photon, on this day, the neutrino won.

And now, as an exclusive to QSDWire, we can let the universe know what really, really  happened on that fateful day, to that fateful race.  In a word,

V838.

He did it!  He did it!  It’s his fault!

“Be quite!” V838 insists, his eyes shooting from side to side.  “It’s not every day that someone breaks the laws of physics.  I’m sure there’s going to be a fine or something.”  He grimaces.  “I just hope it’s not worse.  I just hope they don’t send HER after me…”

But why, V8, why?  And for that matter, how?

“Well, I’ve never been the fastest one…when I was little, and I was going slow, my Dad always said ‘So, get out of the ship and push!’, and that’s what I did.”  Huh?  “I got out and pushed the neutrino just a bit during the OPERA run.”

V8 Pushing A Neutrino
V8 “pushing” his neutrino

“It…it started out so simply,” the great blue gaseous one sniffles.  “The first racing bet was free.  They said the first one was always free.  But then I moved up to trifeca’s, and betting the line.  They told me it was easy money!”

The First Ones Always Free
Psst, hey buddy, wanna win big in neutrino racing? The first bet’s always free…

“But I’ve learned my lesson.  No more neutrino pushing for me.  No more neutrino racing for me.  Ever.”  Are you sure?  “Of course, wanna bet?”

So while the truth of the OPERA race has come out, neutrino racing remains the scourge that stains so many of us.  Races will continue to be fixed, and more than one lepton will know the sting of the whip or the squeal of a tire as the OPERA operatives relentlessly enable the torrid 730 kilometer run.  Pray for these leptons, for they are just pawns in the big game.  And while you’re at it, pray for CERN and the souls of the CERN kindred for being the source of this inhumane particle terror, for even though ignorance is bliss (they must be pretty blissful, huh?), someone, someday will pay for the crime that is – NEUTRINO RACING.

UPDATE!!!

The Mafioso overlords who profit greatly from illicit betting at the universe’s most popular neutrino racing track have decreed, under penalty of death, Opera operatives recently announced that there’s nothing to see here – no violation of the universe’s speed limit – no illegal particle racing – move along, nothing to see here that the universe’s speed limit appears to have survived another test!  All of the squealers who ratted the joint have been “dealt” with “‘[S]ources familiar with the experiment’ are now blaming the original result on a fibre optic cable connecting a GPS receiver to an electronic card in a computer,” according to the article. And the little blue guy with the light echo eye had better not step foot anywhere near this place, if he knows what’s good for him  “The cable connection appeared to have been loose, and tightening it shortened data travel times by 60 nanoseconds. Since this time is subtracted from the overall time of flight, it appears to explain the early arrival of the neutrinos,” concludes the article.  Can you see the GPS cable in V8’s hand as he “pushes” the neutrino?  Imagine!  A loose cable causes a 60 nanosecond delay! The little blue guy better be careful or he’ll find that cable around his neck, if you know what we mean Case closed!  Just keep those neutrinos and leptons coming…baby needs new shoes…

I don't get it!

*Sigh*  How does one explain the pain of gambling addiction?  How to put in words the horror, the shattered lives, caused by fixed races?  *Sigh*  How can anyone…

Eta:  Geez, enough!  They ‘get’ the gambling thing, duh.  If they don’t get anything, it’s the neutrino thing.

Oh.

Sorry about that.

Neutrinos are elementary subatomic particles, like the other particles mentioned in the post (don’t worry, we don’t understand them, either).  The point is that all of ’em, like everything else in this galaxy, are limited by the speed of light (if relativity is correct…and if it’s not correct, well, that’s waaaaaaay beyond the scope of this website, let alone our own limited knowledge…).  Nothing goes faster than that.  Period.

Yet look what happened at CERN.  The accelerator gets turned on, and particles start flying everywhere (yes, yes, we’re sure that’s how it happens).  The OPERA folks are watching (you like to watch, don’t you?) some of these particles, looking for a few of them to change flavors during the journey.  And of course there are lots of other particles going along for the ride (remember, they’re flying everywhere, right?).  Thing is — they’re all supposed to get to the OPERA folks at the same time (speed of light speed limit, remember?).

And yet, they didn’t.  The neutrinos got there faster.

Apparently, faster than the speed of light would allow.

So, on goes the matter.  The OPERA folks looked for all sorts of explanations, and can’t find one.  So now all of the gadflies other physicists are trying to explain it, or looking for some kind of experimental error to hang their hats on.  ‘Cause, the alternative is to throw a century’s worth of cosmological thinking out the window (that’s right…it’s been nearly a century since that whole “Einstein/SpaceTime/Speed of Light” thingy came out…aren’t we glad that such a high percentage of the population completely understands a theory that’s older than their grandparents?).

Or, they can just blame V8 for pushing.

Occam’s razor…we vote for V8…