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CERN: Neutrinos Respect Cosmic Speed Limit 96

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.'"
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CERN: Neutrinos Respect Cosmic Speed Limit

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  • 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 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:51AM (#40256329)

    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 them to dictate policies.

  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:58AM (#40256441)

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @10:00AM (#40256473)

    You're right. I think this is because the religious method is the only way of thinking many people know. They simply don't know how to think in a scientific way. Not that they can't, but it's very hard to unlearn something especially when you have weekly brainwashing sessions.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. -- Christopher Morley