Fermilab team spokeswoman Jenny Thomas, a physics professor at the University College of London, said there must be a "more mundane explanation" for the European findings. She said Fermilab's experience showed how hard it is to measure accurately the distance, time and angles required for such a claim.
Nevertheless, Fermilab, which shoots neutrinos from Chicago to Minnesota, has already begun working to try to verify or knock down the new findings.
And that's exactly what the team in Geneva wants.
Gillies told The Associated Press that the readings have so astounded researchers that "they are inviting the broader physics community to look at what they've done and really scrutinize it in great detail, and ideally for someone elsewhere in the world to repeat the measurements."
Only two labs elsewhere in the world can try to replicate the work: Fermilab and a Japanese installation that has been slowed by the tsunami and earthquake. And Fermilab's measuring systems aren't nearly as precise as the Europeans' and won't be upgraded for a while, said Fermilab scientist Rob Plunkett.
Drew Baden, chairman of the physics department at the University of Maryland, said it is far more likely that the CERN findings are the result of measurement errors or some kind of fluke. Tracking neutrinos is very difficult, he said.
"This is ridiculous what they're putting out," Baden said. "Until this is verified by another group, it's flying carpets. It's cool, but ..."
Indiana's Kostelecky theorizes that there are situations when the background is different in the universe, not perfectly symmetrical as Einstein says. Those changes in background may alter both the speed of light and the speed of neutrinos.
But that doesn't mean Einstein's theory is ready for the trash heap, he said.
"I don't think you're going to ever kill Einstein's theory. You can't. It works," Kostelecky said. There are just times when an additional explanation is needed, he said.
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