That effect would reduce the statistical significance — which OPERA claimed was six standard deviations — of the group's result (five is enough to count as strong evidence in the field of particle physics).

Contaldi says the additional error would reduce that number to two or three standard deviations, enough to make only a tentative claim of a faster-than-light effect.

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Measuring the speed of light on this journey would be much easier, because the beam can be reflected back to its origin, and the round trip timed with just one clock.

"Whether they have or haven't synchronized their clocks correctly is the crucial question," says Wiseman.

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In other words, remove HTTP or HTTPS from the beginning.Wiseman says that the difficulty of the experiment and a lack of detail about clock synchronization in the initial OPERA paper may explain why so few critiques of the experiment methodology have been published so far, although more are probably on the way."Carlo is pointing out how difficult it is to critique what has been done unless you're in the collaboration," he says. On 2 October, Gilles Henri of the Institute of Planetary Science and Astrophysics in Grenoble, France, posted his own critique.His e-mail discussion with Contaldi — being followed by dozens of other physicists — is ongoing.Because two clocks are needed to time the neutrinos' journey — one at the beginning, and one at the end — they must be synchronized to within nanoseconds to get an accurate measurement, explains Toby Wiseman, a theoretical physicist also at Imperial College London.Because of its location relative to the centre of Earth, the CERN site feels a slightly stronger gravitational pull than Gran Sasso.