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back to article Rock star physicist Cox: Neutrinos won't help us cheat time

Fire up the DeLorean and grab the almanac, time travel is here... or maybe not. Atom-smashers at CERN's subterranean Alpine lab seized the headlines recently when they found a set of subatomic particles once obscure outside the world of boffinry had turned scientific convention on its head by travelling faster than light. …

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Gold badge
WTF?

"...it's not something obvious you see on Twitter."

There are other, simpler, discoveries in physics that have been made by studying what's on Twitter?

Do tell.....

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Anonymous Coward

. <-- The point You -->

The point is that many people have been suggesting overly simplistic potential solutions on Twitter, Cox is saying that these have already been thought of. He's not saying that you can make scientific discoveries by looking at Twitter.

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Silver badge

Very well

By analysing Twitter, we can deduce that stupidity travels faster than the speed of sound, using a set of particles known as morons.

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Ru
FAIL

Commentards take note

Cox is referring to Inevitable Internet Omniscience Syndrome, something that pops up everywhere that a bunch of people with a bare minimum of knowledge congregate and discuss things they don't really understand, combined with a fair bit of bashing academics and specialists who despite having worked on the problem for many, many years lack the piercing insight of a forum troll who can see the simple solution in moments.

Cox is a fair bit more polite about the issue that I could be, or indeed the guilty parties deserve.

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Anonymous Coward

@Ru

I reckon you really wanted to add: Just look at any discussion about Climate Change on this web site.

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Unhappy

No place for new thought?

Agree that bashing the professional academics (especially on personal level) is uncalled for, but you seem to imply that anyone who is not already a professional scientist can't have a good idea? I seem to recall part of Einsteins success was that he didn't buy into the current accepted rules, and proposed what he thought made better sense, same with many other great thinkers and revolutionaries who challenged established thought?

Sometimes, like maybe when all of science seems to agree that nothing can move faster than light speed, it takes a so called "person of minimum" knowledge to not know or accept this and actually maybe prove it wrong?

And yes even the smartest minds sometimes miss the obvious, and sometimes the simplest minds discover it.....

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Anonymous Coward

@Rob

re: Einstein

Einstein wrote papers which were accepted into journals and peer reviewed, his ideas were new, but they were backed up with hard science and the review from others. It was certainly not all people who liked him, especially at first, but suggesting that this equates to a bunch of people commenting on the Internet with no other knowledge of the subject, other than their personal theory, just doesn't stack up.

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Perhaps a better example then...

... would be Thomas Huxley.

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Anonymous Coward

Gullible journos ...

"'It doesn't mean I can build a new time machine to shine into the past and tell myself the share price performance of today,' he says of the neutrino findings. Damn."

Yeah ... um ... scientific truth is a collectivist enterprise, not whatever your favourite media whore says it is. That's as true for climate change as it is for particle physics.

Mr Cox is a performer, always has been, always will be. In this instance, he may be better informed than your average journotard, but he's still speculating, offering an opinion that hasn't and won't be subjecting to the rigors of the scientific method.

We don't call that science. Okay?

Beyond highlighting how much Brian Cox has become your Stephen Fry, what is the point of this article? Man has opinion?

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Anonymous Coward

it's reportage

Of a Reg sponsored event, at which Brian Cox was a speaker. Why would they exclude it?

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Anonymous Coward

No.

It's not reportage of an event. It's reportage of Brian Cox's opinion on something.

Here's another of his opinions:

"Science is a process and climate modelling is very difficult, although climate models are good now."

Does that make him a fraud and a cheat and now worthy only of ridicule?

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Happy

Absolutely first class!

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Anonymous Coward

This whole speedy neutrino business has no scientific merit whatsoever

I think if we're going to crack this whole time travel thing we need to do what Superman did at the end of Superman The Movie and fly really really fast around the Earth until its rotation changes.

It worked for Superman; Lois Lane died and then he brought her back to life.

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Boffin

I think you're missing the point...

It's not a question of breaking the Cause and effect, but in explains why something appears to be moving faster than c, the speed of light.

In the other article i was trying to explain how it's possible...

Here in this article they talk about representing 3Dspace as the surface of a paper. If its flat, and nothing can move faster than c, all things will hit the target at the same time.

But what if the paper wasn't flat?

Now the laws of physics still have light, gravity etc moving along the paper's surface.

Again taking the same amount of time. But if the neutrinos still moving at c aren't restricted to moving along the paper's surface, you will see them hitting the target sooner than the photons.

The question is what is causing the surface of the paper to bend?

My bet is gravity.

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Anonymous Coward

Superman did not change the rotation of the earth at the end of Superman: The Movie. That wouldn't reverse time on the planet below.

No, Superman used the earth's gravitation pull to allow him to fly faster than light (which is why we see him flying into his own image from the previous orbit resulting in the stretched out "bands" of Superman image that we see circling the planet) allowing *him* to go back in time so he can save Lois.

Because this shit is important to remember when discussing FTL neutrinos in real-life science. I think I've been nerdbaited.

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Bronze badge

The explanation given by one of the films makers at the time of the film's release was that Superman simply flew backwards around the planet several times in order to go back in time by the simple expedient of crossing the international dateline backwards. Which of course wouldn't work.

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Anonymous Coward

Huh?

Space-time is already bent by gravity. Einstein wrote quite a lot about it. It's long-established.

The concept that neutrinos are short-cutting via higher dimensions suggested by M-Theory has also long been on the table. Simply stating 'they're taking a short-cut through... um something' is exactly the kind of 'this isn't going to be solved by suggestions on Twitter' kind of comment that Dr. C was referencing.

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Silver badge

"Space-time is already bent by gravity"

Noooooooooooooooooooooo !

That's not General Relativity - it's almost the opposite

The presence of matter & energy curves spacetime - the effect of moving through 'bent' spacetime is *perceived* as a fictitious force called gravity.

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Holmes

@AC

I am not trying solve the problem. What I am saying is that you don't need to find something exotic to explain it.

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Anonymous Coward

absolutely

Gravity is a force that acts on mass, which may or may not be an 'frictive' effect of motion through the Higgs field. Either the Standard Model is bang on or it's way off.

If what they are observing at Opera is a real effect and not due to systematic or statistical error it could provide an insight into experimental designs to test M theory - which is exiting.

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Anonymous Coward

same would happen

sauntering past a suitably massive body with appropriately large rotational velocity. I think people. Are attempting to esign experimental apparatus to test the theory on subatomic particles. Can't remember where I read about it though.

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Anonymous Coward

@Ian Michael Gumby

If the paper wasn't flat, then anything not stuck to its surface would just wizz off into empty 'space', and not even hit the same target.

The real question is What is causing the errors in the Italians measurements?

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Facepalm

God Damn. The thought that Superman could reverse time by locally affecting the spin of the earth has irked me since I was 9. Superman is a hero again. Thank you.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm still not convinced.

The neutrinos arrived early by the time light travels in 18 metres. The size of the detector? about 18 metres!

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Anonymous Coward

Numerology

Yes, and this all happened around 11/11/11, which reads the same forwards as backwards. Surely some significance there when talking about things going "backwards" in time.

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Holmes

That's quite insightful

I think you should email CERN pronto!

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Trollface

@JMac

Or put it on Twitter

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Facepalm

Err...no mate.

The Neutrinos travelled from Cern, Geneva to Gran Sasso. They travelled 732km.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15791236

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Bronze badge

"The neutrinos arrived early by the time light travels in 18 metres. The size of the detector? about 18 metres!"

Wow you're so clever. I bet nobody at CERN thought of that.

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Joke

But, but, but...

Geneva - G - the *7th* letter of the alphabet

CERN - C - the *Third* letter of the alphabet

San Grasso - *Two words*

7-3-2........732km.

Coincidence?

Fuck yes.

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Anonymous Coward

Wow... I'm sure several hundred PhDs never though of that! Best you post something to @ProfBrianCox right away! :oD

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Linux

Huh...

MS Windows has been breaking the relationship between cause & effect for a long time...

Where's the recognition and fame it deserves???

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Anonymous Coward

but there is hope....

...if indeed if the speed of light is really surpased and the laws of physics have to be rewritten, then the dominance of Linux on the desktop, for so long spewed out by fanbouys may really happen....

Or is that to far fetched?

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Thumb Up

HFT

Odd choice of example. It seems that with a few trillion dollars we could build a SUPER fast trans-light, trans-atlantic link for High Frequency Trading. Shave those naneseconds!

Sub-ether radio, anyone?

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Prof Cox ?

The trouble with the good professor i find is that his on screen persona indicates that his surname should be in the singular rather than the plural.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes...

Damn those who strive for the public understanding and popularisation of science.

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Anonymous Coward

Jealousy is a terrible thing...

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Anonymous Coward

Popularisation of Science? Public Understanding?

If you can't do the maths you can't do the science. This "popularisation of science" crap misses the point that pop science is usually wrong science, with a load of misleading verbiage where some variational calculus should be . And it is only ever interesting to those already interested.

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4D

What's the issue?

I reckon it's something along the lines of a new dimension - I'm talking the analogy of 2D beings seeing 3D objects - Could it be that we, humans, are only able to observe things in 1 time-stream and that actually, time is multi-vectored?

If it isn't a calculation error, then it my theory above could explain the reason we can't seem to do much with neutrinos, because they are just 'side-stepping' in the other dimension slightly.

And BTW, no - I'm not a scientist or claim to play one!

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Anonymous Coward

Theory

I think you have to flesh it out a bit more, before you can refer to it as a theory!!

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The answer to time travel

88 mph

Everyone knows that...

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Silver badge

That would worry me. I can't think of many historical periods where arriving at 88mph would be a good thing.

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Mushroom

Not a scientist but, aren't neutrino's really small, like sub atomic particles? which would place them in the quantum area of physical laws, which don't function at all like Newtonian physics and pretty much do their own thing. Surely scientists should be surprised if neutrino's didn't travel faster than light.

Quantum Physics is what makes physics fun :-)

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Bronze badge

FFS that's what these people deal in every day. They are, if you like, quantum mechanics (sorry).

The universal speed limit is nothing to do with Newtonian physics anyway. It *is* quantum physics and one of the building blocks thereof. That's not to say I don't think that neutrino's couldn't exceed the speed of light, but if they do the laws of quantum physics would need to be rewritten.

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Headmaster

Neutrino's what?

Oh, you mean neutrinos plural!

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Facepalm

'Twonks!'

They just need some jump leads and Starbug.

It's all in the captains message. The one that's hidden in the microdot in the 'i' in Einstein's swimming certificate.

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Anonymous Coward

Time has nothing to do with space...

Light is an observation of matter we currently can see, time is another - the two dont go hand in hand and time travel IS impossible... The sooner we accept this the better...

Just start working on FTL drives and I expect that we will start observing new stuff..or better still... Let the wookie win....

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Holmes

Check your facts please author

" Fellow scientists in November claimed to have disputed the faster-than-light Neutrino findings – after the CERN OPERA physicists that produced the results had themselves run them again just to make sure."

That's not true. The results disputing the finding were published in October BEFORE the second experiment by OPERA. In fact the results for the energy of the Neutrinos is from the same experiement that first produced the faster than light result. The results were re-published in November so they appear to have been after the second experiment, and the media have jumped on them. The results are from the same data as the first experiment. They have no bearing on the result of the second experiment. They don't disprove the result anyway, just add to the pile of questions surrounding this event.

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Anonymous Coward

Other things about the article that made me cringe:

>"It's the foundation of cause and effect, and dictates that when throwing a brick through a window you see the movement of the brick through the air and towards the window before the window shatters – not vice-versa."

The principle of cause and effect is a lot older than Einstein, and relativity showed how it was in fact dependent on your frame of reference and that the same two events could occur in one order in one frame, the other in another or be simultaneous as seen from a third.

>"Space-time, according to Einsteinian thinking, puts the 3D world of space on a flat plane along with time to calculate the way we observe events."

"Puts the 3D world of space on a flat plane"? What is that even supposed to mean?

>"Ninety-nine percent of the energy in a dying star is emitted by neutrinos, but it is light that has reached the observers on Earth first, not neutrinos"

No, the neutrinos reached here first - the light has to struggle its way up through the infalling dense outer layers of the collapsing star, where the neutrinos just sail through it without interacting. The problem is that the neutrinos only got here four hours ahead of the light, rather than the four years we'd have expected if they were travelling the same amount faster than light that the OPERA measurements suggest.

This was not a good day for the public comprehension of science. The article attempts to simplify matters for a lay audience but just ends up getting them flat wrong.

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Silver badge

Those of us lucky enough to be at Live2011 saw that he's much better in person than on screen*. He started by saying something like: "I've been asked to speak on the work being done at CERN, but since I've been told you're all a bunch of geeks (guilty), I thought I'd try to explain why neutrinos travelling faster than light would be such a big deal". He then proceeded to give the clearest explanation I've seen of why faster than light information transfer would break cause and effect (if Einstein is correct). The best presentation of an extremely good day.

* Where he can be all too easily parodied - as all those sub-Culshaw spoofs on YouTube demonstrate.

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