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Gran Sasso lab threatens to upend a century of Einstein physics?

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In “Speed-of-light experiments give baffling result at Cern” (BBC News , September 22, 2011) , Jason Palmer reports,

Neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second early. nonlocalizability,

The result – which threatens to upend a century of physics – will be put online for scrutiny by other scientists.

“We wanted to find a mistake – trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects – and we didn’t,” he told BBC News.

The neutrinos appear to have exceeded the speed of light. So,

The team measured the travel times of neutrino bunches some 15,000 times, and have reached a level of statistical significance that in scientific circles would count as a formal discovery.

More. Wow.

Imagine if incredible Darwin claims were treated this carefully …. As if.

In biology, if Darwinism is the problem, rewriting the scene is the solution. Whatever had to happen to prove it would be true … did happen!

Fortunately, physics seems a bit sounder than biology just now. (We are not counting cosmology, which is on the same level as Darwinism. We mean real physics.)

Real physics is sound because we can actually disprove an established idea, on evidence. That’s progress.

We shall see. I'll accept the plate of crow if I'm proved wrong in a few months. Or years, as the case may be. I'm betting the phenomenon is an artifact of the measurement method, if not an actual error. Petrushka
The problem isn't that there is no second experiment. The problem is it conflicts with all prior measurements of the speed of neutrinos. But figuring out what happened will be interesting. There will be a rush of experiments, and of analysis. Petrushka
From Peter Woit: "The rumor seems to be a “6 sigma” observation of timings indicating faster than light propagation of neutrinos. This seems almost certain to be a mistake; to believe it, you would need overwhelming evidence. Supposedly details to be released later this week, we’ll see. If it is real, presumably it should also be observable by other experiments in other conditions. My rule of thumb is don’t believe something like this until it’s confirmed by a second experiment: people on the first experiment want to believe they’ve found something revolutionary, people on the second experiment want to shoot down the result of the first experiment…" and "About the superluminal neutrinos. My initial reaction is that this has to be a problem with the experiment, and making a big public announcement of this is a really bad idea, even if you do this together with explaining that it’s almost surely an experimental problem. If I get time and there’s something more interesting to the story, I’ll try and write a posting on the topic." http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=3981&cpage=1#comment-97072 udat
Petrushka, it's most unlikely they'd be asking for help in so public a manner if it were a problem of simple error. There's more to whatever is going on here. News
CT: It's a bit more than that. A massless particle moves at c in vacuo, per prevailing theory. What is pivotal here, is that the measurements, if they are correct, are well within current methods to measure times, and to measure relative location. Mind you, the mechanism for the latter [GPS, sub-mm precision, light travels at 1/3 m/ ns . . . a foot per ns] is based in part on the speed of light. One key question, then is whether there is a 60 ft -- Cricket-pitch length [distance from pitcher to plate for Baseball fans] -- error in distance involved. Or something. But, the key thing here is that empirical evidence counts, and is taken seriously, in a genuine, observationally driven science. If this holds up, Einstein will have met his one fact, and physics is looking at its second revolution in a century. Most likely an error, but if not, maybe we just saw the cracking of the door to superluminal travel, as in cosmological colonisation. Which puts the Drake Equation "great silence" and privileged planet issues right back on our radar screens. GEM of TKI PS: What I found interesting in my own breaking news post, is that the immediate reaction there was on the lines of: doesn't this overturn the Dembski type UPB. I answered, here. kairosfocus
Word on geek street is neutrinos blasted the doors off photons by 60 nanoseconds, with an error +-10. 50 nanoseconds is a country mile. CERN to discuss results on webcast live today: http://indico.cern.ch/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=155620 With yet no higgs signal and now a contested c, physics is rocking. junkdnaforlife
So, according to Gran Sasso, Neutrinos can travel faster than light. However, according to Hong Kong, photons cannot exceed the speed of light. So...neutrinos have a higher velocity than photons. Or, we don't really have a good grasp on how to measure neutrinos. Would that mean that the speed of light is "re-written" as the speed of neutrinos? ciphertext
I believe it was Max Planck that said physics advances one funeral at a time. Or as my Mom says, ideas never die, just the people who believe them. So it seems even as concrete a field as physics struggles with entrenched views that will not be persuaded by evidence. Jehu
Of interest they state in the article:
Neutrinos come in a number of types, and have recently been seen to switch spontaneously from one type to another. The team prepares a beam of just one type, muon neutrinos, sending them from Cern to an underground laboratory at Gran Sasso in Italy to see how many show up as a different type, tau neutrinos. In the course of doing the experiments, the researchers noticed that the particles showed up a few billionths of a second sooner than light would over the same distance.
Is a quantum mechanical effect involved in the spontaneous switch as the particle is traveling??? If so then just maybe they could be picking up the length of time the neutrino was in a 'quantum state' as it was in transition from type of neutrino to another. Just maybe. bornagain77
Dont be conCERNed. Neutrinos would've arrived even earlier, but went joyriding in their DeLorean. -- Neil Tyson Starbuck
I didn't make this up. I read their press release and that's pretty much what they said. They're asking for help. Petrushka
There's an error, and Einstein is OK. I'll bet what's left of my posting privileges. The people involved know there's an error. They just can't find it and are asking for help. Betya, betya, betya. It would be fun to be wrong about this, but I doubt I am. Petrushka
"Fortunately, physics seems a bit sounder than biology just now. (We are not counting cosmology, which is on the same level as Darwinism. We mean real physics.) Real physics is sound because we can actually disprove an established idea, on evidence. That’s progress." Exactly! This is what creationists have been saying for a long time. Science that deals with the past is much less precise than science that deals with the present, uses the scientific method, can be verified, observed, tested, etc. And yes, cosmology and evolutionary biology, even paleontology and sometimes geology fit the definition of "historical" science definition as they deal with what happened in the unobservable past. This is a good illustration of that. For an example of how "shaky" cosmology is right now, check out crev.info and read the "trouble in cosmologyland" post from Sept. 18th. Quite eyeopening! tjguy

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