It’s all happening today !
CERN seem sufficiently baffled to go public with the unexpected results of their muon neutrino experiment. Having done some big long-term experiments (in steel works), when you get some odd results with lots of data, you always go back to check that something isn’t broken, un-calibrated or the pigeons haven’t left “white dialectic material” on the detector. I think we have to assume that CERN have done all this, and are still stumped by the results. If true the consequences are astounding, so the best thing to is try to repeat the results at another facility – which I believe is part of what the team are urging. I can set up an accelerator in my garden some toilet rolls, string and sticky-backed plastic, if they want.
I’ve been watching a few of my favourite physics tweets this morning and there is considerable disbelief.
Prof. Jim Al-Khalili tweets: “Right, if the CERN experiment proves to be correct and neutrinos have broken the speed of light, I will eat my boxer shorts on live TV.”, “It’s not that I am closed to new discoveries, but rather that FTL travel violates causality for f**k’s sake.” and “Excitement of overturning whole of modern physics would be so exciting that well worth humiliation of eating boxers (if allowed ketchup)”,
Whilst cosmologist Prof. Peter Cole writes “This neutrino stuff looks like bollocks to me.”, “Somebody should write an opera about neutrinos. Shouldn’t it be “neutrini”, by the way? like panini?”, “Anyway, neutrinos should travel at the speed of dark.
Dr_JAH responds: <“The Blah-blah of Cernville” perhaps ?> and <That’ll be where all the dark energy is then>
Prof. Brian Cox is on hols, but gave an interview on the Beeb. He mentions a theory that the neutrinos could be taking a short-cut through other dimensions i.e. not violating what we know in our observable dimensions. Cool. That’s why he luvs physics.
Simon Singh probably thinks its a conspiracy by the chiropracters 😉
Anyway, great timing. We’re all hiding under our kitchen tables waiting for the UARS satellite to fall from the skies in 26 washing machine-sized chunks this evening. Apparently NASA are sure that it won’t land on North America – that’s alright then. They don’t say that it won’t land anywhere else on the globe, which I’m sure that they could. [I can’t get on the satellite tracking site to check, it’s blocked up].
All good stuff to distract us from the collapsing economy of the western world. What next ? Plague of Locusts ?
In the panic, it sounds like all the savers in Germany are desperately trying to find other places to stash their cash, other than shares and banks. If true, this could precipitate a new crisis – effectively a run on German banks !!! Cause and effect. Let’s see.
Well, coming back to “Cause and Causality” (the little known Jane Austen novel about the state of physics in the early 19th Century), I’m intrigued by Jim Al-Khalili’s comment on violating the laws of causality. Firstly, isn’t that the point ? It doesn’t make sense, hence today’s outcome. Secondly, IF (after third party confirmation) there is some truth in the results then we need to look at the nature of causality in our observable universe and a lot of drawing boards will need to be dusted off.
I might explore this at another juncture. The extra dimension stuff seems to agree with some of the maths.
In all this, it should be the scientific method that wins. “OK. That wasn’t what we expected.” Hypothesis. Repeat experiment. Results. Analyse and test. Conclude. Discard or New Theory.
In business and other organisations (arguably any interconnected decision-based socio-economic system) this loop is so-often ignored, either from ignorance or, more worryingly, through ego, arrogance, denial and a race for “results”. Cue links to economic behaviour. Where’s that elephant ? Oh, right next to me.
Anyway, that’s it for now.
Remember : DON’T PANIC !