Feeds

back to article Can general relativity explain the OPERA neutrino result?

CERN’s decision to release data about its “superluminal neutrino” experiments at an early stage is providing the world with a rare insight into the process of scientific peer review. Another small step in that process in relation to the fascinating OPERA results asks whether general relativity can be called in to help explain …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge
FAIL

except

>we’ll have had our most detailed demonstration of why science works.

That is until religious ideologues get elected and tell us the world is 5,000 years old and that natural selection is a lie.

14
5
Mushroom

Science. It works, bitches.

http://xkcd.com/54/

And it works because scientists are always ready to accept they could be wrong.

Religious creotards have no appreciation of this, and any attempt made to fit their ideology to fact is inherently doomed to fail- because they can't accept that the rules they use to prove science for their purpose are the same rules that negate their purpose out of hand.

Oh, and by definition, nothing in this universe is "supernatural" and *everything* is a suitable candidate for scrutiny by the scientific method.

</rant>

15
7
Anonymous Coward

Or....

As the folk at WBC would say....

www.godhatesscientists.com

0
1

Scientists ARE the new religious ideologues

If you disagree with their unsupportable hypothesis, you are a heretic and must be cast out of the temple.

4
7

@jonski

"And it works because scientists are always ready to accept they could be wrong"

Most scientists are. Strangely, climate scientists are not in this group.

9
7
Gold badge

@Jonski

I prefer this one, and it is actually relevant too!

http://xkcd.com/955/

It's actually given me an idea; (Unfortunately all the people here already don't believe it and therories including the one about moving atomic clocks too fast through gravity fields are already discussed at lunch)

2
0

Going to have to call you out on this one

Science can be just as dogmatic as religion, as the guy who discovered quasicrystals found out.

From - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15181187

"Dr Shechtman had to fight a fierce battle against established science to convince others of what he had first seen in his lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington - formerly called the National Bureau of Standards - on an April morning in 1982.

For years, the researcher was "ridiculed" and "treated badly" by his peers, he recounts."

This years Nobel Chemistry prize winner...

5
2

@Full Mental Jacket - Not really, as the "science establishment" eventually gave him a Nobel prize (fair enough, he was treated badly but hardly in the same scope as religion)

4
2
Facepalm

Ideologues

That is until some 'blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology' (to use the Webster's definition of ideologue) interrupts the scientific discussion with spam.

2
0
Unhappy

Highly irritating

Why I find highly irritating is the way people (particularly readers here) seem to think that there is a war between science and religion where scientists are the rational, open-minded, educated, good guys and those who believe a religion are blind, irrational, dim-witted, "creotard", baddies. Nothing is farther from the truth. Have you never heart of advanced, intelligent, open-minded, scientists who have developed religious faith BECAUSE of what science has taught us, not in spite of it? Have you never heard of scientists that doggedly stick to a wrong conclusion in spite of all evidence because of their own presuppositions which they are unwilling to release? There are both open-minded and dogmatic individuals in both camps.

Unfortunately, comments like this that try to lump all scientists or all those of religious conviction into a single stereotypical basket simply, in my opinion, illustrate a lack of open-minded intelligence of the poster and all those who give it the thumbs up.

9
0

@apjanes

Scientists *are* the rational ones. Belief from faith is by definition irrational. Look, if you have faith that a god is protecting you and will do what is best for you, if you have *complete and utter* faith in it, you should have no problem walking off a cliff, but rationality always prevails (along with some sort of irrational justification for why it's not to do with not having enough faith). Scientists *can* be dogmatic and unwavering in their acceptance of something, but religious believers *have* to be dogmatic in the fundamentals, at the very least. Do you see the difference?

3
1
Meh

Don't confuse science with scientists

See if I can get this right :-)

The old duffers say.

1) It's bollocks

2) It's not bollocks but it's irreproducible

3) It's brilliant and I have always stated that it was

The very nature of peer review means that it's open to abuse by

folk who are emotional, envious and/or unimaginative but that does not invalidate the process.

There is a great story about the bloke who proposed Tectonic plate theory.

He was repeatedly vilified by his peers who then led a candle-lit procession

of contrition to his widow's house when the theory was proved correct.

0
0

@FMJ

"This years Nobel Chemistry prize winner..."

So it took some work for him to establish himself but he has done so and precisely because of the scientific review processes. He now has the top dog award. Some of his peers may have been dogmatic but 'science' wasn't.

Now imagine Galileo becoming pope . . .

1
0
Bronze badge
Stop

"Science can be just as dogmatic as religion, as the guy who discovered quasicrystals found out."

Science is non-dogmatic by definition.

Scientists on the other hand are just humans who are obstensibly practising the methodology of science. Failiure to do so is not a failure of the method but the scientist.

For the dogmatic religion failing to adhere to the dogma makes you a bad practitioner of that religion. No different really - people are not merely templates over which philosophical systems can be neatly pasted.

1
0
Gold badge

@full Mental Jacket

Yeah, but they just told him that he was crazy, and it wasn't possible.

They didn't lock him up, burn him at the stake, or execute him for being a heretic.

1
0
Alien

Who?

"Have you never heart of advanced, intelligent, open-minded, scientists who have developed religious faith BECAUSE of what science has taught us, not in spite of it?"

No.

You were perhaps going to give an example?

2
0
Holmes

Science 1: Hype Nil !

This is the way the best science moves forward.

Despite all of the "faster than light" discussion, another 'oops' for relativity is explaining how particles with an apparent non-zero rest mass travel at or very near the speed of light. Perhaps the issue here is that in fact these particles never move slowly, and so what we see is not rest mass but energy and that the particles are more like photons than fundamental particles. All of this confuses the quantum model, so science will be buzzing with this for a good while.

It's a pity we turned off Fermilab's accelerator.

1
2
Anonymous Coward

Why is it a pity?

The neutrino sources at Fermilab come from the Booster ring and the Main Injector, not the Tevatron. In fact, shutting down the Tevatron is good for those experiments, as more protons will now be delivered to them, and not the collider experiments.

0
0
Silver badge

"explaining how particles with an apparent non-zero rest mass travel at or very near the speed of light"

I don't see why this is a problem. With small rest mass and high kinetic energy, the only thing that goes to c is v.

1
0
FAIL

Not even wrong

@Jim O'Reilly: I was going to type a long reply to your comment, but after getting past the first erroneous claim I came to the conclusion that you're making so little sense, you're not even wrong.

-- relativity has no problem explaining how particles with non-zero mass travel very near the speed of light. If it didn't, we wouldn't even have the LHC or the Tevatron, because that's exactly what they do: accelerate particles to near the speed of light.

-- particles with mass greater than zero never travel *at* the speed of light, and relativity explains why, so the only 'oops' here is your claim

-- "these particles never move slowly"? What does this even mean? Neutrinos move at a variety of speeds depending on their energy.

-- "not rest mass but energy"? Um, obviously what we see is the mass attributable to energy. You may have heard of a little equation that goes E=mc^2?

-- photons *are* fundamental particles. But neutrinos are not remotely like photons since, among other things, they have mass.

-- "All of this confuses the quantum model": The only thing that's confused here, I'm afraid, is your understanding of physics.

3
2
Anonymous Coward

Synchronise using 4 clocks

Use 4 atomic clocks, 2 at the sending station and 2 at the receiving. The 2 clocks at each station are synchronised with each other. One clock from each station then travels to the other station. Each clock sets out at the same time (as best as it can be calculated) and uses exactly the same path and speed to the other station. The clocks can then be compared and any effect from the transportation calculated to see if it is large enough to cause the observed results.

Time dilation should issues should be minimised as they travelled through the same non-uniform gravitational potential (although in opposite directions).

5
0
Boffin

Minimised, yes. Completely "cancelled-out," no...

Unfortunately, there's this big rotating gravity-encumbered ball called the Earth which needs to be taken into account...

This is all because of a phenomenon called "frame dragging," in which a rotating mass is seen to pull the local space-time tensor around with it in the direction of its rotation. It is the frame dragging effect (also known in loftier scientific circles as the "Lense–Thirring effect") that causes the orbit of an object revolving around the rotating body to undergo precession, in which the apogee of the orbiting object advances slightly in the direction of the central body's rotation.

The magnitude of the effect is very small (one part in a few trillion for any given rotating mass/orbiting object system, although for hyperdense rotating bodies like neutron stars and black holes, one part in a few trillion could still be quite significant), and thus difficult to detect. Even so, the effect is thought to be very real, and scientists spent a lot of time and effort trying to isolate it experimentally (the most famous being the lavishly expensive "Gravity Probe B" mission).

12
0
Silver badge
Coat

Simple!

Stop the world, repeat the experiment.

The one with the celestial mechanic kit in the pocket, please.

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Clocks A and B are at sender, C and D at receiver. B and D travel to other station. You can now use the following formulae to calculate the maximum impact of any relativistic effects: (A-D) - (C-B). If this is less than 60ns then it doesn't explain the phenomenon.

0
0

Wont work, one of the moving clocks is going the opposite way through the frame for a start, plus the random changes to the gravity field wont happen the same way to both.

0
0

"The clocks can then be compared"

How?

0
0
Meh

(and most often, only because the journal decides to throw some bones at the general media)

That sounds to me a bit too much like the Sun-reader's "The gummint never tell us anything".

There's nothing to prevent popular media employing teams of scientists to read all the current science, just as there's nothing to prevent the Sun-reader reading the Telegraph or the Guardian.

3
0
Silver badge
Trollface

"just as there's nothing to prevent the Sun-reader reading the Telegraph or the Guardian."

Being near illiterate might hinder them somewhat.

17
0
Bronze badge

But....

I'm sure that Kandi, 18, from Essex, our top heavy lovely would disagree - see page 3 for more!

4
0
J 3
Headmaster

Not constant

"that theory considers lightspeed to be the cosmological constant, the same everywhere (in our universe at least) and unbreakable"

Not constant, if I remember correctly. The *maximum* speed of light in a vacuum is fixed, but light can move slower than that maximum speed. But IANAP, so I might be misremembering the basic physics a biologist learns in college...

3
0

Yes…

but a unqualified "speed of light" is to taken as meaning "The speed of light in a vacuum".

3
0
Bronze badge

It's the speed of light in a vacuum that's the constant. Your recollection is correct. Relativity comes from a need to explain why the speed of light doesn't depend on the direction the observer is moving.

Strictly, faster than light gives mathematically valid results, but has other implications.

I wouldn't worry about this result until we get an outbreak of blue phone-boxes.

1
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

@J 3 . Indeed...

... that lovely blue glow in nuclear reactors is Cherenkov radiation which is emitted when a charged particle travels faster than the phase velocity of light in a dielectric medium. Nice.

0
0
DJO
Bronze badge
Holmes

"Strictly, faster than light gives mathematically valid results, but has other implications."

Yes, mass as an imaginary number does certainly have implications.

Bonus question: What colour does a red shifted blue policebox appear as?

1
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Black

It's what all that dark matter is made of .

1
0
Pint

Indeed Indeed

I ermmber wondering as a youngster whether we could travel backwards in (local swimming pool time) if we sat submerged in a pool full ofa substance through which light travels rather slowly.

Actually, that still puzzles me.

0
0
Go

Not what is usually meant by peer review

This is gold standard peer review, not what is normally understood as "peer review" in the context of the media saying "it was peer reviewed so it must be right". Here lots of the best people are interested in getting to the bottom of the issue and real science is being done in the process.

Normal peer review is rather less edifying. The hundreds of thousands of papers submitted to journals each year all have to be read by other scientists to weed out glaring errors, and dodgy claims, but very few get the kind of scrutiny this result is getting. I've certainly ticked the "accept" box on occasions after a couple of revisions thinking "well, it could be better but its not obviously wrong and no-one is going to read this paper anyway".

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Keep it up!

Nice to see solid, dispassionate articles like this about science on The Register instead of the usual science-bashing conspiracy theory stuff.

1
2

There's a bit of a difference between science-bashing and scientist-bashing.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Not the LHC

The SPS, duh

0
0
Holmes

Remember 1987

When supernova 1987a was observed in 1987 the visible signal and the neutrino arrived close enough together to establish that the neutrinos were travelling within 1 part in 10^9 of the speed of light. i.e. the signals peaked within about one hour of each other on a transit time of 160,000 years.

http://prd.aps.org/abstract/PRD/v36/i10/p3276_1

Now admittedly these were electron neutrinos not tau neutrinos (at birth anyway) . And also If neutrinos travelled 1 part in 10^5 faster the neutrino peak would have been1.6 years in advance of the light and so might not have been noticed. But observations such as this should make us look at the OPERA experiment sceptically. It's a really ambitious measurement. They fired 10^20 neutrinos over 3 years but only observed 16,000 events - i.e. they only observed 1 in every thousand million, million neutrinos. That makes it tough to do timing! Establishing the timing and distance are both very difficult and despite their extensive checks, a small error is entirely possible.

3
1
Silver badge
Happy

One of my favourite quotes...

... From Isaac Asimov:

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but rather, 'Hmm... that's funny...'"

32
0
WTF?

time resolution

"Since GPS clocks are only managed to 100 nanosecond accuracy,"

That's about 30 light meters is this 100 ns accuracy correct? hmmm wikipedia is claiming +- 10ns

1
0
Silver badge

For position accuracy you're actually looking for the delta between the time signals from the satellites - you don't know exactly how far away any of the satellites are, only the relative distances of them.

For clock accuracy, you need to know the absolute distance to the satellites, and that has bigger error bars than the delta.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Send a note to IPCC

<quote>By the time OPERA is either settled or falsified, we’ll have had our most detailed demonstration of why science works.</quote>

And the most glaring counter example of why "Climate Science" isn't (science).

9
11
Silver badge

actually

if this was climate science you deniers would be up in arms at the idea that the scientists were questioning the experiment.

You would make trite statements like "when the observations don't match the theory, you throw away the theory"

1
4
Anonymous Coward

Actually

If this was climate science the observations would be hidden in a CENSORED directory and never see the light of day without an FOI request.

2
1
Boffin

My fellow physicists are making this too complicated.

There are a lot of less exotic things that still need to be examined. For example, the thermal coefficient of expansion of granite (and most rocks) is on the order of 10 ppm/C (parts per million per degree Centigrade). Granite is 70-95ppm/C, Basalt is 80-95ppm/C, Sand stone is 90-120 ppm/C, Lime stone is 60-90 ppm/C, etc.)

The distance between CERN & OPERA was about 730km. That means that if the average temperature of the rock between CERN & OPERA changed by 1 degree C over the course of the seasons that this experiment took place, that distance changed by something on the order of 5 meters. Or inversely, for that distance to have stayed within the claimed accuracy of 20cm, then the average temperature of the rock between CERN & OPERA changed by less than 0.04 degrees C over the course of the seasons that this experiment took place. Is that reasonable? I don't know. But this type of "mundane" explanation is a hell of a lot more likely an explanation than some exotic explanation on the edge of physics.

5
2

Edge of physics?

Gravitational time dilation was identified as a consequence of general relativity in 1907 and confirmed in 1959. Calling it the "edge of physics" is like calling sliced bread the "edge of baking".

4
2
Silver badge

The 60ns difference equates to 18 m

I trust there has not been an 18m shift in position, as that is earthquake magnitude. The mean temperature of rock beneath the ground is really stable, simply due to its HUGE thermal capacity, and high degree of thermal insulation. This is why (wine) cellars often have high thermal stability.

Previously, the peculiar, apparently superluminal motion of jets in quasars and active galaxies could be explained elegantly by invoking special relativity. by assuming the jet is traveling at near light speed almost directly towards us. Here general relativity may well be an explanation (but it may not)

3
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.