FTL Neutrinos are not Dead Yet!
March 18, 2012 1 Comment
So, today superluminal neutrinos are out. Another experiment called ICARUS, from the same laboratory whence the OPERA results came, recently announced their findings that neutrinos do not travel faster than light.
It is a little surprising how eager scientists were to get that experimental anomaly behind them. Almost as if the whole idea so threatened the foundation of their world that they couldn’t wait to jump on the anti-FTL-neutrino bandwagon. For a complete non-sequitor, I am reminded of the haste with which Oswald was fingered as JFK’s assassin. No trial needed. Let’s just get this behind us.
A blog on the Discover Magazine site referred to this CERN announcement as “the nail in the coffin” of superluminal neutrinos. Nature magazine reported that Adam Falkowski, a physicist from the University of Paris-South said “The OPERA case is now conclusively closed”
Since when are two conflicting results an indication that one of them is conclusive? It seems to me that until the reason for OPERA’s superluminal results is determined, the case is still open.
In software engineering, there is such a thing as a non-reproduceable defect. A record of the defect is opened and if the defect is not reproduceable, it just sits there. Over time, if the defect is no longer observed, it becomes less and less relevant and the priority of the defect decreases. Eventually, one assumes that it was due to “user error” or something, and it loses status as a bona fide defect.
The same should hold for anomalous FTL events. If they are reproduceable, we have new physics. If not, it is still an anomaly to be investigated and root cause analyzed.
In fact, interestingly enough, the arxiv article shows that the average neutrino speed in the NEW experiment is still .3 ns faster than light speed would predict and more neutrinos were reported faster than the speed of light than slower. Admittedly, this is well within the experimental error bar, but it does seem to indicate that neutrinos travel at c, the speed of light, which means that they should not have any mass. Yet other experiments indicate that they do indeed have mass.
And then there was the result of the MINOS experiment in 2007 which also indicated faster than light neutrinos, although not at as statistically significant of a level as with OPERA.
So, we are still left with many neutrino anomalies:
– Two experiments that indicate faster than light speeds.
– Conflicting experiments regarding the possibility of neutrino mass.
– Mysterious transformations of one type of neutrino to another mid-flight.
– And the very nature of their very tenuous interaction with “normal matter,” not unlike dark matter.
Theories abound regarding the possibilities of neutrinos or dark matter existing in, or traveling through, higher dimensions.
How can anyone be so confident that there is a nail in the coffin of any scientific anomaly?