Faster-than-light neutrinos update


Two months ago, I commented on the report by physicists at Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy who claimed they had observed neutrinos travelling faster than light. I pointed out that in real science (as opposed to crank science) anomalous observations like this are tested and criticized before being accepted by the scientific community.  The ultimate test is the replication of the result by independent researchers.

And that’s exactly what is happening, according to a report in Nature News.

First, the Italian group has tightened up its protocol and replicated the experiment.  With the same result.

Second, independent physicists have weighed in with possible explanations of the phenomenon, explanations that are far beyond my simple mind.

Third, and most important, a group at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois is preparing to replicate the experiment.

Notice that as yet no one is rushing to the lifeboats on the good ship Einstein. But if there is a leak in the theory of relativity, it will be accepted by physicists, who will enthusiastically work to build a new theory. Or repair the leak.

Compare that with a crank science such as homeopathy, whose advocates cling to the original belief system in spite of a complete lack of evidence in support of its validity.

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About aharmlessdrudge

Way back during the late Bronze age -- actually it was the 1950s -- all of us in high school had to take a vocational test to determine our interests and, supposedly, our future careers. I cannot remember the outcome, but I do recall one question that gave me pause. "If you were to win a Nobel prize, would it be in literature or in physics?" I hesitated over the question: although I enjoyed mathematics and science more than English class, I did have a couple of unfinished (and very bad) novels hidden away at home. I cannot remember what I chose back then, but the dilemma followed me to university, where I switched from mathematics to English and -- after a five-year stint in journalism -- back to mathematics. I recently retired as a professor of statistics. Retirement. What a good chance to revive my literary ambitions. I have finished a novel -- more about that in good time -- and a rubble of drafts of articles about mathematics and statistics is taking up space on my hard disk.
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