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OPERA Group Repeats Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results 442

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-for-mistakes dept.
gbrumfiel writes "Earlier this year, the OPERA experiment made the extraordinary claim that they had seen neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. The experiment, located at Gran Sasso in Italy, saw neutrinos arrive 60 nanoseconds earlier than expected from their starting point at CERN in Switzerland. Others have doubted OPERA's claim, but in a new paper, the group reaffirms its commitment to the measurement. 'It's slightly better than the previous result,' OPERA's physics coordinator Dario Autiero told Nature News. Most members of the collaboration who didn't sign the original paper out of skepticism have now come on board. But scientists outside the group still aren't sure. 'Independent checks are the way to go,' says Rob Plunkett, co-spokesman of a rival experiment called MINOS."
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OPERA Group Repeats Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results

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  • Re:Supernovas (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Friday November 18, 2011 @09:54AM (#38097412) Journal

    That's exactly why I am not just sceptical but quite openly dismissive of any claims of superluminal neutrinos.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2011 @09:58AM (#38097454)

    And thus you are no longer speaking of science, but religion.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:04AM (#38097502)
    Seems even the OPERA people who first ran the test are skeptical, so you're in good company. :) I think everybody is doing a we're not sure what we've got, but SOMETHING is happening, lets figure it out.
  • Re:Supernovas (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:09AM (#38097574)

    He's not speaking religion. There's nothing metaphysical in his statement. He didn't say god wouldn't allow Neutrinos to be faster of light, or something like that. You cannot divide things just into science and religion. Some things are neither.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:17AM (#38097650)

    Oh, come on, seriously? You're going to insist that we watch 5000 supernovas before you'll accept this as a valid point? A single carefully measured *truly independent* data point is more valuable than a thousand repetitions of the same experiment.

    Or to put it another way: say you measure the voltage of a battery 100 times with a voltmeter, and measure 0 volts every time. I hook it to a light bulb and the bulb lights up. Are you going to insist that my single observation is useless, or is it possible your voltmeter is broken?

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:27AM (#38097752)

    His point (which should be modded up) is that God or no God, the essential difference between religion and science is that religion puts articles of faith before observed data. Which is exactly what the post he was responding to was doing.

    Don't get me wrong: I think the OPERA experiment will turn out to be wrong. But neutrinos are so poorly-understood and poorly-observed that any blanket dismissal of OPERA's results counts as an act of faith.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:39AM (#38097922)

    That objects can't travel faster than light is in special relativity, which does not contradict quantum mechanics.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:50AM (#38098062) Journal

    1987a was 168,000 ly from Earth. The anomalous neutrinos had a excess speed of 1/40,000 c. So I'd expect them to arrive four years (ok, 50 months) prior to the light.

  • by nashv (1479253) on Friday November 18, 2011 @10:59AM (#38098200) Homepage

    Whatever it is, I give them props for trying to solve this in the most honest, transparent way possible and remaining open to being wrong. They're exemplifying "good" scientific method and that makes them more credible to begin with.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Freddybear (1805256) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:05AM (#38098296)

    You can't tell anything to those guys.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niftydude (1745144) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:24AM (#38098538)
    Not necessarily - travelling through vacuum, and travelling through densely packed matter in a gravitational field might possibly make all the difference.

    If real, qualified physicists are pondering this issue, it is a bit early for us mere mortals be openly dismissive.
  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alphathon (1634555) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:29AM (#38098614)
    I believe the word you are looking for is dogma, not religion. It is quite possible to be dogmatic about completely secular things; doing so is misguided but certainly not religious.
  • Re:Supernovas (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:31AM (#38098638)
    The OPERA experiment was repeated with the *same* timing equipment, using the same method with the same people. So any systematic error is going to be the same. Its is not a *independent* result.
  • Re:Supernovas (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:52AM (#38098916)

    Which part of science runs on belief, again?

    I think you went and made the point you were trying to refute there, chief.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pavon (30274) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:53AM (#38098948)

    There have already been four credible ideas posted in this discussion as to why the measurements we are seeing could differ from prior ones, without either being wrong. Different energies, different neutron flavors, interactions with gravity, interactions with mass, etc. Neutrons are still not completely understood, and since their predictions/discovery we have had to change the standard model twice (that I am aware of) to match new observations, and we will likely have to again in light of growing evidence of flavor oscillations. Non-baryonic matter is very much at the ragged edge of what experimental physics can observe, and finding unexpected things should be expected.

    I'm skeptical of their results, and think that there is probably something that hasn't been accounted for in their timing. But if you flat-out dismiss new evidence because it doesn't agree with your models based on past evidence, then you have crossed the bounds from scientific skepticism to personal belief.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JamesP (688957) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:55AM (#38098976)

    "much harder to refute" how about no

    - Neutrinos through Interstellar medium vs. neutrinos through "planet earth" (almost the same thing to neutrinos, sure, still, almost)
    - Neutrino interactions with interstellar medium
    - Neutrino oscillations
    - Neutrino generation process in a supernova event How do we know the level of neutrino generation didn't begin to raise 4 years before it went supernova? Far fetched yes, impossible, no.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Friday November 18, 2011 @12:07PM (#38099212) Homepage Journal

    Stop being closed minded. Lets look at the science.

    1) They got a result that defies are current understanding
    2) The people performing the tests assume it's an experiment error, but can't find it
    3) The people performing the tests were like " Hey scientific community*, we know this can't be right, but we can't find out where the error is, how about a little help?
    4) The scinetific community is like " what about this this and this
    5) Those are great. we checked and no, no and no? here is the results
    6) Well, ceck all youtr quipement and try again
    7) OK, oh look the same result just better refined.

    So keep an open mind. Not a 'Hey man, anything is possible." open mind, but a mind that looks at the actual evidence.

    Remember, about 125 year ago, someone came up with ideas that where complete outside out understanding of the universe as we know it. If everyone just dismissed bohr, then where would we be?

    Whether or not this is true, it is a great example of science and it' workings.

    For the record, I am skeptical of the findings, but I expected the community to have found something wrong.

    Neutrinos change around for reason we don't know either. So it's not like we complete understand them.

    *Scientific community: The proper experts in the proper fields.

  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr_gorkajuice (1347383) on Friday November 18, 2011 @12:32PM (#38099538)
    He said: "I am not just sceptical but quite openly dismissive"
    Indeed, new experiments should not be taken at face value. This is why skepticism is encouraged. Dismissal, not so much.
  • Re:Supernovas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oligonicella (659917) on Friday November 18, 2011 @01:01PM (#38099944)
    Invisible pink unicorns

    Your statement is so vague it's meaningless.

    What he wrote was:
    "I am saying that this is an experiment that is much harder to refute [blogspot.com] and that it trumps OPERA."

    If you believe that to be a religious statement, or even dogma, you simply do not understand those concepts.
  • Ok, several stuff there.

    " (1) Hadn't there been something about the relativistic effects of the GPS satellites messing with the data?"
    (2) Hadn't they just swapped out their differentiators, possibly doing the calculations at the point of impact, instead of 20' up the cable, at the cable mount?"

    Unlikely (but way more likely than FTL neutrinos). They check that stuff a lot, they know how to do the math... But they are still humans, so there can be a problem somewhere. Nobody was able to find it up to now, people are still trying.

    "2nd Thermo is a mathematical law"

    It is a mathematical consequence of some models of the universe. Other models don't bring it as a consequence. Remember, we don't know how the universe behaves, we just have clues.

    "To put it shortly, if you can do FTL particles, then you can send information back in time."

    I was corrected recently here on /. while saying that. Ends up that you can't keep current physics at all, so any prediction based on current physics (and yours is based on Relativity and Maxell laws) is not reliable.

    "Moreover, sending information back in time itself violates the 2nd law of thermo."

    Can you prove it? I'm trying to for a time, but it seems that it doesn't follow from the postulate of paradox-free time travel.

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