Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

CERN: Neutrinos Respect Cosmic Speed Limit 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-tend-to-ignore-the-stop-lights dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news of a presentation from CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci about follow-up experiments trying to repeat the faster-than-light neutrino results from last year. Quoting the press release: "The four [experiments], Borexino, ICARUS, LVD and OPERA all measure a neutrino time of flight consistent with the speed of light. This is at odds with a measurement that the OPERA collaboration put up for scrutiny last September, indicating that the original OPERA measurement can be attributed to a faulty element of the experiment's fibre optic timing system. 'Although this result isn't as exciting as some would have liked,' said Bertolucci, 'it is what we all expected deep down. The story captured the public imagination, and has given people the opportunity to see the scientific method in action – an unexpected result was put up for scrutiny, thoroughly investigated and resolved in part thanks to collaboration between normally competing experiments. That's how science moves forward.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

CERN: Neutrinos Respect Cosmic Speed Limit

Comments Filter:
  • by Zapotek (1032314) <tasos.laskos@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:38AM (#40256167) Homepage
    ...best avoid those pesky cosmic traffic cops.
    • after long and arduous research , we have finally found something that doesnt force us to disbelieve in everything we held to be true , i think it's a bit sad, it could have been the start of something that was actually new , its been a while
      • Huh? Scientists are always looking for things to believe that aren't what they currently believe to be true. It's kinda what they do.
        No forcing involved.
    • by Zephyn (415698) on Friday June 08, 2012 @12:48PM (#40259069)

      That's the way it always works. You catch one exceeding the speed limit, then all the others notice it and slow down accordingly.

  • by Dareth (47614) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:38AM (#40256175)

    I thought they fired the head scientist responsible for that result.

    "That's how science moves forward." in the real world.

    • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:46AM (#40256279)

      A real problem with this line of thinking "this is how science moves forward" is that the public at large has no idea how science actually works. they view it as another religion. "well stephen hawking said this, so it must be true"

      A disturbing number of people see this sort of situation not as a validation of scientific method, but as an indication of failure.

      The discussion goes as follows:
      "remember when they told us that they'd discovered particles that went faster than lightspeed?"
      "yeah, there were all these press releases and stories in the newspaper and on cnn and shit about how they could go back in time now and maybe warp speed is possible"
      "right, and then they were all like 'oops, our bad, we fucked up, we can't go warp speed after all'. i wonde rhow often they're fucking up like this and we just don't know it. I bet it happens a lot. I wonder how much other shit the scientists told us was true where they're doing bad experiments"

      There are a frightening number of these people, and you can't tell me I'm wrong because you know them too.

      • by dintech (998802) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:56AM (#40256419)

        There are a frightening number of these people, and you can't tell me I'm wrong because you know them too.

        It's worse when you meet them at parties [youtube.com].

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why would they fire the people that made this public, when they said in the very same paper that released this they said it was most likely an error in one of the instruments, and that they implored other scientific institutes to replicate the experiments as to confirm/deny the results. These people you are talking about, are just the stupid people that exist in society, and still have opinions about everything.

        • and they outnumbers us, and they vote.

          that scares me more than any horror move I've ever seen (except paranormal activity, that shit's just creepy)

          • by Xaedalus (1192463)
            Not only that, they also pay taxes, and they have firm opinions on how those tax dollars should be paid. And they're not very tolerant of mistakes.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I agree with you.

        thoroughly investigated and resolved in part thanks to collaboration between normally competing experiments. That's how science moves forward.'"

        I wanted to take a larger quote because I find it interesting. The sad fact is, science used to mingle with the greater community, including the laymen. Scientists used to somewhat of celebrities and they frequently fielded questions and got inspiration from the laymen. Now, they treat themselves as a higher order of the religion of man, whereby the sit in judgement of mankind and reality itself.

        I personally believe the quote above shows a sub-conscious acknowledgement that science is less

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @10:48AM (#40257169)

        I am usually quick to criticize the irrational thinking and the complete lack of scientific literacy found in many people, but in this case I feel journalists should be blamed more than anyone.

        What the scientists said: We have a strange result from one of our experiments, it indicates that neutrinos went faster than light. We know that's not supposed to be possible and we don't think we discovered FTL, but we haven't been able to find the error in our experiment so far. Can anyone help?
        What half-decent journalists wrote: Experiment surprisingly observes neutrinos possibly exceeding the speed of light
        What typical journalists wrote: Speed of light exceeded by neutrinos in an experiment
        What bad journalists wrote: Scientists break the speed of light - neutrinos are faster
        What horrid journalists wrote: Modern physics invalidated, speed of light not a limit after all

        It's generally known that scientific journalism isn't, at least mainstream in media, but in this case the journalists really outdid themselves.

      • by kenj0418 (230916)

        "Just think of how stupid the [median] person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!" - George Carlin

      • by kdemetter (965669)

        They are at least partially right : a big fuss is made about it, and then it's proven to be false.

        But that's not the fault of the scientists, it's the media that makes a big fuss out of it.
        However, the skeptic in me wonders if this isn't nice publicity for the scientists ( capturing the public's imagination, and maybe some big wallet at the same time ).

      • by XiaoMing (1574363)

        This is the consequence of idiots labelling anything scientific that they don't understand as "science", but also a benefit in a way:

        Before anyone else tries to write us off as Satan-loving heretics, think about this:
        In "science" people with sometimes completely different interpretations and understandings of the underlying "science" (in this case physics) involved will test each other's hypotheses and, out of respect of the pursuit of knowledge (in most cases) publish their honest findings either confirmin

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Even worse, the neutrinos involved are sueing him for libel.

  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:42AM (#40256215)

    If they were climate scientists then they would have been publicly ridiculed, had their funding called into question, had their email subpoenaed, been threatened over the internet and finally ended up as merely a footnote in "the debate". Instead, they are particle physicists, so good science was accomplished.

    • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:45AM (#40256259)

      Just reread that post. I don't mean to say that climate scientists are bad science. I just mean that the particle physicists were left alone to do their work, and the result was ultimately positive.

      • by RivenAleem (1590553) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:57AM (#40256435)

        But the average person understands climate, that's like the polar caps melting, right? Sure everyone's an expert on that. Particle Physics on the other hand, I challenge you to walk down the street and ask people what they think particle physics is all about.

        • But the average person understands climate, that's like the polar caps melting, right?

          The average person doesn't think the polar ice caps are melting. The average person thinks they're just moving further and further away.

        • by steelfood (895457)

          But the average person thinks they understand climate

          FTFY.

          Most people don't actually understand climate. Most people who make climate their life's study don't understand a good deal of it, and nobody in the world fully understands it (ironically, the ones who claim to understand it the most are the ones who actually understand it the least).

          Most people understand weather, but that's not climate.

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          But the average person understands climate, that's like the polar caps melting, right? Sure everyone's an expert on that. Particle Physics on the other hand, I challenge you to walk down the street and ask people what they think particle physics is all about.

          I challenge you to walk down a corridor in the Physics department of any major university and ask people what they think particle physics is all about ;)

          The same is true for Quantum Mechanics in anything except the Phys Chem department of the Chemistry building.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A lot of that actually happened. Researchers on the project were fired and publicly humiliated. Many people called the legitimacy of the entire project into question over what turned out to be a faulty sensor.

      All schools of science are brutal; not just climatology.

      • by TheSpoom (715771)

        Is there a reason this "brutality" is necessary? Everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

        • by Xaedalus (1192463)
          Taxpayers. You want the reason, there you go. Taxpayers are notoriously brutal about seeing their tax dollars being spent in a multi-billion dollar "mistake".
          • by spazdor (902907)

            Ideologues with radio shows are notoriously brutal about seeing their tax dollars being spent in a multi-billion dollar "mistake".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If they were climate scientists then they would have been publicly ridiculed

      If they were the kind of "climate scientists" that gets media time they would not have suggested anything that can be verified.
      The statements we get are usually along the lines of "ZOMG! Neutrinos are faster than light! We need to stop using nuclear power now to protect causality! NO, we don't have time to verify my results, everyone knows that they are correct!"

      A reasonable course of action would be to use the current models to predict the climate in 10 years and then see how well they work before we use t

    • by sjbe (173966) on Friday June 08, 2012 @10:19AM (#40256701)

      If they were climate scientists then they would have been publicly ridiculed, had their funding called into question, had their email subpoenaed, been threatened over the internet and finally ended up as merely a footnote in "the debate". Instead, they are particle physicists, so good science was accomplished.

      That's because particle physics doesn't (presently) threaten anyone's business model. If they give off even a whiff of costing companies money you can bet that their credibility will be questioned. Particularly if the companies threatened are extremely wealthy energy companies.

    • by Hentes (2461350) on Friday June 08, 2012 @10:22AM (#40256759)

      This is a wrong analogy for many reasons. First, particle physics is easily testable, while climate predictions are either hard to test or are far in the future. Second, if I remember right the leader of the OPERA experiment was forced to resign, not something that happens often in climate science. Third, particle physics is apolitical, while climate science sadly is thoroughly tainted with politics. Which is why trust in climate scientists has eroded, and with many being funded by interested parties to deliver bogus research the curiosity about funding is understandable. On the other hand, CERN has been always completely open about their finance. I haven't heard of email subpoenas and I seriously doubt that they are common in climate debates, but I'm open to read your citations if you can provide any.

      • Second, if I remember right the leader of the OPERA experiment was forced to resign, not something that happens often in climate science.

        That indicates that climate science is more trustworthy.

        It annoys the hell out of me that Ereditato was apparently pressured into resigning. He did everything right. In science, when you get results that don't match your expectations, you double-check your work. When you do that and still can't find the problem, you publish it. Maybe it turns out you've found something new, more likely it turns out you've made a mistake with your methodology, and other people point it out. That's great, it means other

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Only if they were saying that nothing disastrous is happening to the climate and it's just doing what it's always done... change.

  • by lixns21 (1887442)
    Prof Antonio Ereditato reminds me of Homer J! Try imagining him without any hair ;0
  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:46AM (#40256273)
    Yes this is how science should be done. I would have loved a FTL violation as it would have opened up all kinds of new physics. But alas.
    This is my worry with global warming; that good science is not being done. There are two sides arming themselves with "the truth". One of these sides is correct. But regardless of which side is right science is taking serious blows as people call for the firing / de-funding of any scientists who don't agree with them. If the side you don't like is lying or falsifying their data then that will be the end of their careers. Not liking scientific results has been sticking in the craw of religious types for 100 years with Darwin. They still haven't wished his results away. But what they have done is to damage generations of potential scientists as they mess with school curriculums.
    With global warming one side will be right but people won't care as the public will believe that you can argue against science with opinion. I can't imagine a teacher trying to discuss both sides of Global Warming with their class for or against. At this point I would think a teacher would do just as well discussing the pros and cons of abortion in Arkansas.
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      This is my worry with global warming; that good science is not being done. There are two sides arming themselves with "the truth". One of these sides is correct.

      I'm not that sure. When one side is talking about 6-10 degrees of warming and the other claiming that the climate is actually cooling, I have trouble believing that any politically motivated scientist can aquire the truth in this matter. I think your view of climate is cynical, there are still true uncorrupted scientists in climate research, it's just they are the less loud as they aren't backed by the media of a political side.

    • Re:Global warming (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Brannoncyll (894648) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:19AM (#40257703)

      This is my worry with global warming; that good science is not being done.

      Good science is being done, my fear is that their results are being suppressed or taken out of context by people with an agenda. These are generally not scientists, but politicians and people representing corporate interests (often the same person) - most scientists despise politicking and consider data falsification as one of the worst crimes that can be committed. By perpetuating the "debate" about climate change, generally with utter falsehoods, they can continue to erode public trust in science hence giving themselves more power to push their agenda. The truth of their side of the debate does not matter, all that matters is that the debate continues.

    • I know you are trying to bring balance into the debate but last I heard no one is calling for people like Eigil Friis-Christensen or Henrik Svensmark to be defunded, and I've never heard either of these two calling for defunding of climate research. Radio blowhards, sure, but no respected scientists on either side of the (very limited) debate. In fact every time I hear climatologists talk about these two they talk about the need to fund their work since there really aren't a whole heap of even vaguely plaus

  • The neutrinos obeyed the speed limit. Nothing to see here, move forward citizen scientist.
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:53AM (#40256367) Homepage

    The universe caught on we were watching, and quickly decided to toe the line on the whole laws-of-physics thing again.

    Like when you're on the highway and see a cop car passing you by. Suddenly you're a model driver, five percent below the speed limit, signaling lane changes and everything, can-I-help-you-officer.

    Turn that detector off and they'll be whizzing by like nobody's business again, violating causality just for the hell of it.

  • by Tibixe (1138927) on Friday June 08, 2012 @10:02AM (#40256489)
    Had the error been in the opposite direction, indicating neutrinos slightly slower than previously thought, this experiment would never have been scrutinized so much. Then some theoretician might have even got a Nobel for explaining the result. That's how science moves backward.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @10:25AM (#40256797)

      Had the error been in the opposite direction, indicating neutrinos slightly slower than previously thought, this experiment would never have been scrutinized so much. Then some theoretician might have even got a Nobel for explaining the result. That's how science moves backward.

      But Neutrinos are slower than light.
      How I know? Well, because Neutrino oscillations have been measured.
      What's the connection? Well, Neutrino oscillations require that Neutrinos have mass. And particles with mass always go slower than light.

    • I think that any difference from the speed of light would have been scrutinized very carefully, but slower-than-light neutrinos would not have attracted the media attention.

      The is a bit embarrassing since it was a simple technical glitch that caused the problem, but the scientific process is working correctly.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Had the error been in the opposite direction, indicating neutrinos slightly slower than previously thought, this experiment would never have been scrutinized so much.

      Maybe not as much, certainly not as much in the mainstream media, but it sure as hell would have been scrutinized as a strange and possibly erroneous result. Nobody would have got a Nobel without serious verification efforts (most likely decades of verification as usually happens with a Nobel).

      See, neutrinos are so light that we've never actually been able to measure their mass directly, but we do have upper bounds on that mass that are very, very low (something like 5 or more orders of magnitude lighter t

  • The entire reason for measuring the speed was so that we would have the mass value. What's the estimated mass now that we have a somewhat accurate and confirmed speed?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nope. They were supposed to be measuring the mu-neutrino to tau-neutrino oscillation (a few events indeed happened). Which would indirectly hint at their respective mass ratio. The speed thing was just an anomaly on the side.

    • by mcelrath (8027)

      The precision of the velocity measurement is nowhere near what would be required to measure mass using it. Neutrino mass is very, very small compared to the energy of these neutrinos.

      The velocity measurement was a side-project. The main OPERA experiment measures the rate at which neutrinos switch "flavors". The rate of that flavor oscillation can be used to compute the mass difference of neutrinos.

      • by medv4380 (1604309)
        The Velocity measurement was to help narrow down the mass to fill in the blanks on the flavor switching. Oprea [www-opera.desy.de] was intended to look at neutrino oscillation which was supposed to be impossible because we assumed it has no Mass. The mass is the important part of the entire project.
        • by mcelrath (8027)

          Wrong. Values for the mass which would be observable with OPERA were ruled out by several experiments, long before OPERA was built.

          The modification of the velocity is approximately v/c=1-m^2/E^2 =~ c*1e-18. OPERA has nowhere near a precision of 1e-18 on the velocity measurement. A large enough mass to be visible in the velocity measurement would be so large that certain radioactive decays would not occur, and it would be visible in the kinematics of others (such as Tritium decay).

          OPERA does not direc

  • How science works (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:11AM (#40257561) Homepage Journal
    Couldn't they have just released the results without all the hyperbole and pontificating? Yea, everybody knew that most likely there was an issue with timing, rather than with the much-confirmed laws of space-time. We don't need a condescending lecture from the elites. Tell it to the journalists.
  • by perles (1855088)
    Only in Italy they run faster than the light.
  • Well, truth be told I am a little sad. I know, too much SF made me secretly hope the experiment results would be proven right. A man could dream... :)

  • The neutrinos have mutated [zazzle.com], I tell you! They have mutated [zazzle.com]!

In order to dial out, it is necessary to broaden one's dimension.

Working...