Jim Al-Khalili’s defence of his extreme scepticism of faster-than-light neutrinos departs from the fundamental standpoint of Faraday, Maxwell and (early) Einstein that space-filling fields are physical, as the formulation of Steven Weinberg, Logunov etc. of a real energy tensor for the gravitational field. He blogs the CERN neutrinos:
## moved faster than light “were it travelling in a vacuum”
## “moving through empty space… they don’t interact or bump into anything”
Yet light travels not in a vacuum but through the gravitational field and waves in it, as well as in the electromagnetic (e-m) field.
If neutrinos have mass, they would likewise be travelling in the gravitational field and they would Cherenkov-radiate in that field. But if they are massless like ‘photons’, they are not perturbations of the electromagnetic field, but would be perturbations of a third space-filling ‘neutrinic’ field. As that has an energy density, it automatically enters the Einstein-Hilbert unified field equation. Is Jim’s offhand “bring back the aether” dismissing this basic field theory?
So physics can accommodate neutrinos faster-than-light without the drastic overthrow that Jim warns of – and in a way as Alice suspects that might force him to eat his boxers.