BBC: Faster Than the Speed of Light?

Yesterday evening the BBC ran a documentary about the OPERA neutrino results. If you are in the UK and missed it you can watch repeats over the next few days or view it online here. Probably it will be available in other countries in some form soon.

The program was presented by mathematician and author Marcus du Sautoy who has become a familiar science host on the BBC in recent years. The tone of the show was skeptical but open-minded and I think this reflects the range of views that scientists have on the subject. Marcus described the results and surrounding debate as “a great example of science in action”. The show must have been put together very quickly but it follows clear logical steps and includes most of the relevant points that should be discussed at a popular programme level. I think they did a great job of bringing in the more exciting possibilities without hype. Here are a few highlight quotes from the guest scientists.

Marcus du Sautoy: “You can almost feel the shudder that passes through the entire scientific community when a result as strange as this comes out. Everybody’s talking about it. Is this the moment for a grand new theory to emerge that makes sense of all the mysteries that still pervade physics, or has there just been a mistake in the measurement?”

Marcus du Sautoy

Chiara Sirignano (OPERA): “On top of us we have 1400m of rock, the top of Grand Sasso mountain. Here the cosmic rays are very few because outside they are 200 per square meter per second and here it is just 1 per square meter per hour. This is a very huge shielding”

Chiara Sirignano

John Ellis: “If the speed of light turned out not to be absolute, we would just have to tear up all the textbooks and start all over again. On the other hand it would be nice if it were true.”

John Ellis

Fay Dowker: “For me it would mean that the direction of my own research was wrong, so it would be a revolution but to me it would also mean that nature is just playing tricks with us”

Fay Dowker

Jon Butterworth: I actually heard about this result in the coffee bar at CERN about two weeks before it came out, and I laughed. I have to say that was my thought, they have got something wrong haven’t they?

Jon Butterworth

Stefan Söldner-Rembold: “MINOS and T2K will both work very hard to get a similar measurement with a similar precision in the next few years, but it will take a few years I think”

Stefan Soldner-Rembold

Joao Magueijo: “Obviously this result contradicts what you find in textbooks, but if you are actually working in the frontier of physics, if you are really trying to find new theories this is not as tragic as you might think. It is a crisis, but we need a crisis because there are a lot of things in physics in those textbooks which don’t really make any sense.”

Joao Magueijo

Mike Duff: “Well, I have been working on the idea of extra dimensions for over 30 years so no one would be happier than I if the experimentalists were to find evidence for them. However, To be frank, although I like the idea of extra dimensions, this is not the way they are going to show up in my opinion. So I am not offering extra dimensions as an explanation for the phenomenon that the Italian physicists are reporting.”

Mike Duff

Tara Shears: “This could be one of those moments that turns our understanding on its head yet again, let’s us see further into the universe, let’s us understand more about how it ticks, how it sticks together, how things are related inside. If it does that, if we understand more, then it’s one of those magical moments that you get in the history of physics that just twists your understanding and brings the universe into focus, and if we are seeing the start of that now, and we are documenting it, then we are really, really, really privileged to be doing so.”

Tara Shears

69 Responses to BBC: Faster Than the Speed of Light?

  1. [...] Philip Gibbs has more here. This entry was posted in This Week's Hype. Bookmark the permalink. ← String Theory Finds [...]

  2. Wilhelmus de Wilde says:

    Hi Philip,
    Please see also
    and the article from Ronald A.J. van Elburg from the University of Groningen, Holland.

    best regards


  3. John Ståhle says:

    They pretty much sum up my thoughts.

    I hope the OPERA measurements are verified, EXITING new physics – but the rational part of my minds tells me, that the probability of it’s beeing correct is slightly below 1 percent. Both SR and GR have been shown correct many times over, most recently GR in an article in Nature 447, 2011 SEP 29, written by Radoslaw Wojtak, Steen H. Hansen and Jens Hjorth (from DARK under the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen): “Gravitational redshift of galaxies in clusters as predicted by general relativity”, doi:10.1038/nature10445

    • Kea says:

      As far as I can tell you are not actually in a position to judge the likelihood or not of the result being correct, since you are not a theorist. Knowing what the old theory would say is just plain irrelevant.

  4. I dont get the point of the discussion. The constant “c” is still there, absolute as it is, and it is the maximum speed for every particle of real positive mass, including massless. The discussion is about mass, isn’t it?

    • John Ståhle says:

      The maximum speed of any particle is c, but only if the theory of Special Relativity (SR) holds. In case of a particle, massles or not, moves faster than c, the SR is in trouble and may “fall” (have to be augmented).

  5. Kea says:

    Thanks for the quotes, Phil. I doubt I will get to see the program. At least the BBC has learned to talk to women as well as men.

    • electrev says:

      First try going to and then search for the “iplayer” link, if they don’t block it you could watch it there

  6. The general misunderstanding of all these names and also participants here seems to be that the result somehow demonstratea that special and general relativities are in some tragic manner incorrect. It is amazingly difficult to see maximal signal velocity as a concept rather than number.

    What we mean with maximal signal velocity depends on what we mean with space-time geometry. This is the message.

    I have probably mentioned *sub-manifold geometry* one and thousand times now. This notion should be familiar to string theorists unless they take the theory as a mere toolbox.

    A theory based in sub-manifold geometry generalizes Relativity Principle (Poincare invariance), General Coordinate Invariance, and Equivalence principle and solves the energy problem of General Relatitivity which is indeed a conceptual inconsistency of GR about which we have been discussing earlier.

    This overall important attribute “sub” geometrizes fundamental interactions and makes itself visible in the physics from Planck length scale to cosmology. Also TGD inspired theories of quantum biology and consciousness involve it in essential manner. The apparent super-luminality of neutrinos possible in sub-manifold geometry is just one particular aspect of this concept.

    My sincere hope is that apparent neutrino super-luminality could finally force colleagues to wake up and open their eyes after a winter sleep of more than three decades.

  7. Simplicity says:

    Neutrinos do not have electric charge, as far as I have read !!!

    All other elementary particles have electric charge !!!

    Particles with Electric charge causes electromagnetic waves !!!

    Neutrinos with No electric charge can not cause electromagnetic waves !!!

    So why should neutrinos with no electric charge care about the speed of electromagnetic waves ???

    In my assessment the constant C applies only tho particles with electric charge !!!

    • Simplicity says:

      Luckily, I now believe that I am wrong above.

      The neutrino has half-integer spin (½ħ), and non-zero mass.

      The existence of a neutrino mass strongly suggests the existence of a tiny neutrino magnetic moment, allowing the possibility that neutrinos may interact electromagnetically as well.
      Therefore neutrinos does have to care about the speed of the electromagnetic waves, C !!!

      I really hope that the OPERA results are soon falsified ! LOL

      • Ulla says:

        But we learn so much out of this. I have asked about the interactions earlier. Have you a link?

        Mass can be from magnetic dipole moment too? is this isospin?

  8. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    The paper by Elburg is unfortunately wrong. It fails to take into account general relativity. Secondly it has a numerical calculation error. If the 62ns were due to special relativity the velocity of the satellite would be about 1000km/sec.

    It must be pointed out that the tachyon is a funny item, and must be forbidden because it implies the vacuum is unstable. The condition on the tachyon is that the relativistic momentum-energy interval m^2 = E^2 – p^2 is spacelike with |p| > E and so m^2 0 then that potential is a positive quadratic. If m^2 < 0 that potential is a negative quadratic. So for the field shifted slightly from zero it runs away. The tachyon represents a fundamental instability of the vacuum state. Much the same holds with the Dirac equation.

    If these results are correct and there are particles which move faster than light then it might be best to abandon physics and work on perfecting the single malt scotch. It might mean that the universe just simply makes no fundamental sense. It could also mean there are fundamental principles behind the universe which require thinking outside of anything we understand. In either case it will mean the universe has kicked us all in the butt and we are “lost.”

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      The middle paragraph I just wrote did not come out right due to carrot symbols, which for some reason do not show up right

      It must be pointed out that the tachyon is a funny item, and must be forbidden because it implies the vacuum is unstable. The condition on the tachyon is that the relativistic momentum-energy interval m^2 = E^2 – p^2 is spacelike with |p| \gt E and so m^2 < 0. The Klein-Gordon equation is

      ∂_t^2ψ – ∂_x^2ψ = m^2ψ

      which comes from the Hamiltonian

      H = |∂_tψ|^2 – |∂_xψ|^2 + |mψ|^2

      where |mψ|^2 acts as a type of potential. If m^2 \gt 0 then that potential is a positive quadratic. If m^2 \lt 0 that potential is a negative quadratic. So for the field shifted slightly from zero it runs away. The tachyon represents a fundamental instability of the vacuum state. Much the same holds with the Dirac equation.

      • Ray Munroe says:


        What if the ‘tachyon’ is the imaginary component of a quaternion mass term that interacts with the 3 real mass components (electron, muon, tau neutrinos) of the quaternion? This might explain the PMNS matrix and the possibility of ‘superluminal neutrinos’.

        Have Fun!

      • Ulla says:

        Well, with an adiabatic acceleration vacuum is perhaps far from stable? Already forgotten this years Nobel?

      • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

        The exponential expansion of the universe is not due to negative energy. It is due to a negative pressure in the equation of state w = -1.

        The imaginary mass in the neutrino, or in a form of the Majorana fermion, has been advanced. I have to reserve judgment on that. I think that the tachyon in any form is something which is removed from theories. This forms certain constraints, such as in giving a real spectra J^2 = am^2 + n (n = 1 or 4) in the Regge trajectory.

      • Ray Munroe says:

        Hi Lawrence,

        I tend to agree that a purely imaginary-valued mass would be forever separated from us by the light cone. But would the same be true of the ‘imaginary’ component of a mass quaternion that also had three ‘real’ components? I think it is fair to say that there is much about neutrinos (Dirac or Majorana mass?, nature of right-handed neutrinos?, origin of PMNS matrix?) that we don’t understand as well as we might like.

        I always expected Quantum Gravity (if it exists) to be a weakly-coupled interaction capable of over-ruling Relativistic Gravity. If OPERA’s results are correct, then this may be a much bigger deal than finding the Higgs boson within 20% of where we expected it.

        Have Fun! These results may yet open up a new generation of ideas and opportunities!

    • John Ståhle says:

      In case the superluminal neutrinos exists, you turn to single malt scotch (god choice :) I intend to turn to voodoo which in that case seems to make more sense than astrophysics.

      We should, however, always remember that the universe probably is much more complicated than our simple models and that although Ockams razor is a fine instruments, it must be handled with great care as it can also be used to cut throats.

  9. carla says:

    i wonder who was the scientific adviser for the program?

    It put forward the misleading idea that the mass of a particle increases as it approaches the speed of light, whereas the transformation of space and time is responsible for the acceleration approaching zero as v approaches c for a constant force.

    Still, the program was interesting and a good excuse for the BBC to create something worth watching.

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      It is very common to use “relativistic mass” in popular accounts of this level. For someone who is not familiar with the mathematical formulation of relativity It is a much more intuitive way to understand what is happening. It is not misleading, it is just a different way to understand it that is better for a non-physicist.

      This has always been controversial and you may not agree, but rather than starting a discussion here people should read wikipedia or the Physics FAQ or any other of the many articles written about it, and then make up their own mind

  10. dbundy says:

    After all these years of dismissing Kuhn’s ideas, the consternation of the theoretical physics community is most amusing: If he were to be right about the paradigms of successive periods of normal science being incommensurable, none but the humblest of the members of the community will survive the required shedding of baggage, at the eye of the needle, which these results portend.

    It’s not only Einstein’s ideas that are threatened here, but Newton’s as well. We knew that our concept of the nature of space and time was woefully inadequate, but we have ignored that fact for decades;

    Now we must face it squarely.

  11. Kea says:

    None but the humblest of the members of the community will survive the required shedding of baggage…

    Oh, no, they will survive quite well, with their unearned tenure, for the term of their natural lives. Only when they are dead, will the young dare to speak the truth.

    • dbundy says:

      Yeah, you’re probably right, but maybe by then Carl, Alejandro and you will be invited to the Solvay Conference to explain how the Koide formula is the key to so much after all!

      You’ll probably need your walkers – LOL

  12. quoting Joao Magueijo:

    “Obviously this result contradicts what you find in textbooks, but if you are actually working in the frontier of physics, if you are really trying to find new theories this is not as tragic as you might think. It is a crisis, but we need a crisis because there are a lot of things in physics in those textbooks which don’t really make any sense.”

    i agree with him…new physics is needed to explain what happened at OPERA

    i have a theory although i reckognize its too bold


    • dbundy says:

      The trouble is, it is not a new theory that is needed: A whole new paradigm is required, because, under the current paradigm, it’s just not possible to understand what a complex-valued mass might mean.

      It’s not just a problem with > c speed. It’s a problem with understanding the world via imaginary numbers. You can’t get there from here.

      • Ervin Goldfain says:

        How does one measure a complex-valued mass?

      • Kea says:

        Ervin, given the context of the OPERA result, it is pretty clear what kind of measurement is being discussed. Now as a speed, we can denote it by the usual real number value of that speed. But how theory accommodates that real number is of course the question, and in theory one is quite free to discuss complex masses in the context of even ordinary SR, where the meaning is perfectly clear.

      • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

        Of course it is a bit much to imagine how one could measure a complex valued mass. Here is another example of how a complex valued mass is problematic. We of course are all familiar with Newtonian gravity

        F = -GMm/r^2.

        Suppose we have complex valued masses that interact by gravitation. This would mean that

        F = -G(iM)(im)/r^2 = GMm/r^2

        and so they would repel each other. If such particles exist then they have virtual particles in the vacuum. This would then mean the virtual pairs would repel each other and come flying out of the vacuum. The vacuum is again unstable.

        In the 26 dimensional bosonic string there are two tachyon mass states. These are removed by transforming this theory into one of a 16-dimensional gauge theory, such as SO(16) in 10 dimensions. This means the real physics in the 26 dimensional bosonic string is in 24 dimensions.

      • the neutrino dont have an imaginary rest-mass at FTL

        ..its rest mass is real….

        i browsed YouTube for videos on OPERA experiment and i got myself stagerred with the amount of them…..browse YouTube for “OPERA Superluminal Neutrino”

        people are trying to explain the OPERA experiment using Special Relativity…..of course an imaginary mass is needed in the context of Special Relativity…..what i propose is the use of General Relativity to explain the superluminality of the neutrino

        my theory fits very well in the OPERA neutrino although i reckognize is a bold move

        OPERA generated a microscopical Warp Drive that carried the neutrino at FTL speeds

        inside the Warp Bubble the neutrino is sublight or at the rest but seem from outside the neutrino is FTL

      • Simplicity says:

        Fernando Luop:

        You say:

        “inside the Warp Bubble the neutrino is sublight or at the rest but seem from outside the neutrino is FTL”

        What caused the warp bubble between Cern and the arrival spot ?

        Thanks for your interesting ideas :-)

  13. Ervin Goldfain says:

    Hi Kea,

    Could one however argue that complex-valued masses are exclusively theoretical constructs with no physical meaning (since they cannot be measured)?

  14. dbundy says:

    See, the problem started way back with Sir William R. Hamilton. Remember, he was the one who coined the term “vector.”

    Of course, our great edifice of science and technology is founded on what was, for him, the regrettable destiny of algebra: The fate of becoming, in the end, nothing but a pseudoscience.

    This is because, unlike the science of geometry, the “science” of algebra has built up of practical necessity, a system of rules and expressions, rather than a system of truths.

    Bottom line?

    Exchanging the ancient for the modern Mathesis, there’s been a gain only of skill or elegance, at the expense of contemplation and Intuition.

    It’s come home to roost.

    Reality bites.

    • Ray Munroe says:

      Dear dbundy,

      What about Geometric Algebra (see for instance David Hestenes)? A ‘vector’ is part of Hamilton’s quaternion, which may be geometrically represented by a parallelizable 3-sphere – close-packing of which leads to the 4-D 24-cell – which may be geometrically representative of the F4 Lie algebra.

      Similarly, Cayley’s octonion may be geometrically represented by a parallelizable 7-sphere – close-packing of which leads to the 8-D Gosset lattice – which is geometrically representative of the E8 Lie algebra.

      Likewise, complex numbers may be represented by parallelizable 1-spheres – close-packing of which leads to the 2-D Hexagonal Graphene lattice in the Argand plane – which is geometrically representative of the G2 Lie algebra.

      What is ‘real’? What is ‘truth’? This mathematics is just the ‘map’ that describes reality. It isn’t necessarily equivalent to reality, but it might give us insights into the nature of ‘reality’.

      Also, that ‘sounds just like my wife’ comment is too dangerous to touch – I’m just lucky that my wife lets me play with physics every once in a while.

      Have Fun!

      • dbundy says:

        No, if the truth of a subject is systematic, like that of right lines and circles, then all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole; that is, the various systems of truth fit together seamlessly.

        An example, in the case of geometry and algebra, is found in the definition of magnitude: It is true that magnitude has dimension and “direction” in both geometry and numbers. We can see this unity in the union of the Greek tetraktys and the Clifford algebras.

        However, when the Bott periodicity theorem limits the binomial theorem to the four dimensions of the tetraktys, we may have no choice but to accept this limitation as truth. Did the Greeks know this, in their own way?

        Maybe, maybe not, but I think we should be humble enough to think that perhaps their ancient predecessors knew it, and that could be the reason why the Pythagoreans were so adamant that all was number, even though, by their time, they didn’t understand why so much.

        When Witten brought the five string theories, in 26 dimensions, down to one theory in 11 dimensions, he was effectively bringing it back into the domain of the tetraktys, even though he might not have realized it.

        M-theory could very well stand for motion theory, but who would have thunk it? Motion has magnitude, dimension and “direction,” but we insist on breaking it down into scalar and vector parts.

        Hestenes’ geometric product makes sense, in the way it puts them back together, just as using 0, 1, 3 and 7 imaginary numbers in algebra makes sense, when you think about it, and using the 7 imaginary numbers of octonions, to consistently construct a 10 dimensional string theory, makes sense too, when you think about it.

        However, making sense out of ad hoc approaches systematically, is a far cry from discovering the foundations of a system of truths. I think this is what Hamilton was asserting.

    • Kea says:

      Nicely put, dbundy. I like the obtuse reference to an Hegelian world, whether or not intentional. You are right that Algebra is more guilty than Geometry in the castles of sand, but that may be a fluky consequence of the axiomatic nature of Geometry, which extends itself to Logic more easily than the Numbers that people have treasured as Reality since the shepherdess first counted the flock.

      • dbundy says:

        Don’t you ever sleep? LOL.

        True, but Hamilton’s point was that the utility of algebra tended to overcome our interest in finding algebraic axioms. The fact that, given two numbers, one greater than the other, there is always a greater number than them both, is an ancient axiom of magnitudes, the importance of which, we may have overlooked in our enthusiasm for complex numbers.

        Maybe that’s the point of departure we need to go back to. Way back to that point. Is there any reason why we can’t have 1, 2 and 3 dimensional numbers, without the employing the concept of rotation?

        Which is the greater truth, that geometry treats points, lines, areas and volumes, or that 2^0 = 1, 2^1 = 2, 2^2 = 4 and 2^3 = 8?

        If we can’t choose between them, is it because they are just different aspects of the same thing, just as space and time are just different aspects of motion? That is to say, they have no independent meaning outside their relationship?

        Sorry. I don’t mean just to demur here. I realize how easy it is to step on carefully guarded toes.

      • Kea says:

        dbundy, I do not disagree with you, but I feel you have jumped to a few conclusions. I have been working on a Constructive Number theory approach to gravity for many, many years now. It is not enough to have a good philosophy in physics. One must tackle the difficult mathematical problems to make true progress, and with a glance at your website and fqxi essay, it seems that you have not done that. For example, you do not mention the concept of topos when discussing the Point, and yet would be very relevant in any attempt to link your approach to that of others.

      • dbundy says:

        Kea, I am truly flattered that you would visit my site. You are quite right to criticize my feeble efforts. I am not in the same league as you and Carl and Alejandro, and I don’t pretend to be. I try to observe and learn as much as seems relevant to the task at hand.

        That task is and has been to calculate the atomic spectra, using the new system of theory developed by Larson. So, if I thought topos were relevant, I would seek to use it somehow, but to tell you the truth, just mastering the lexicon of categories and the rest seems to me to be a little like putting on Saul’s armor must have seemed to David – it’s just too heavy for me and not useful for the task at hand.

        The FQXI essay on the point should never have been written, because later I realized it was not the most enlightening aspect of what I could have said about digital and analog reality, even though I received an award for it.

        Right now, my friend Dave, who has such a great insight into the natural constants, has piqued my interest in the Koide formula (he’s the same Dave that discovered that the up-quark mass ratios nest geometrically with the lepton mass ratios, from your suggestion that the quark ratios fit Carl’s formula, using a radius of 1.76…, instead of sqrt(2), and an angle of 2/27, instead of 2/9.)

        Of course, I can’t go into the reasons here, but suffice it to say that some of the same intriguing numbers, including especially “that damn number,” 2/9, as well as 2/3 (3/2), are fundamental in important aspects of my approach too.

        Dave has enabled me to see the most wonderful symmetry coming out of all this by building this applet, which you probably have already seen: here.

        That symmetry is key, I believe, to understanding what mass is and how gravity operates, including why neutrinos can be superluminal.

        Anyway, that’s why I can’t sleep. What’s your excuse? LOL

      • Kea says:

        Oh, yes, Dave has carved out a unique niche for himself, it seems! He has shown me the slider, and it is on my blog somewhere.

        I may not be a great sleeper, but I don’t see why you would expect me to be asleep at 5pm. Don’t worry, I will soon disappear until tomorrow, and the night shift will show up.

      • dbundy says:

        Duhh, was thinking it was 5am, not 5pm…

        So, was it your Constructive Number approach to gravity that gave you the insight to see that the up-quark mass ratios fit the formula with a ~1.76 radius and 2/27 rad rotation?

      • Kea says:

        Well, it was a pretty obvious consequence of quark charge, when we already had the 2/9 for leptons, and it has to be near 2/27 from the fitting of the quark masses to the Koide relation.

  15. quoting Tara Shears

    “This could be one of those moments that turns our understanding on its head yet again, let’s us see further into the universe, let’s us understand more about how it ticks, how it sticks together, how things are related inside. If it does that, if we understand more, then it’s one of those magical moments that you get in the history of physics that just twists your understanding and brings the universe into focus, and if we are seeing the start of that now, and we are documenting it, then we are really, really, really privileged to be doing so.”

    for me the OPERA Superluminal Neutrino was to hit a jackpot in the lottery

    for years Superluminal speeds were regarded as academic

    now we have Superluminal speeds….for real

    and Warp Drives a product of math in General Relativity..

    now due to the theory of Gauthier-Gravel-Melanson that micro Warp Bubbles are feasible perhaps OPERA is the first man-made Warp Drive

    i agree with Tara Shears…OPERA is a critical turning point in science…..we must enlarge our line of sights …why not encompass General Relativity to explain it

    History will tell who had the reason……and i am counting on History…..

    i read all the scientific documents on viXra arXiv HAL etc…..

    and am satisfied with my theory although i agree is a dare bold move

  16. dear dbundy dear Simplicity

    i hope CERN took all the measures correctly and there was no errors

    otherwise CERN would in trouble…… browse YouTube for OPERA Superluminsl Neutrinos…..from BBC to SkyNews to CNN…..and lots of lots more

    everybody is talking on Superluminal Neutrinos…..

    if a CERN scientist commited a mistake paper would be of no scientific value but for CERN…heads will roll

    as for the micro warp bubble here is the link to the original paper of Gauthier Gravel and Melanson

    according to them micro warp drives may have formed in the beginning of the Universe and these micro warp bubbles can carry inside elementary particles at Superluminsl speeds….see pg 306

    this explains why Glashow dont see the desintegration of the neutrino etc…..because inside the bubble the neutrino is subluminal..but outside it is seen at FTL

    how OPERA generated one of these ,micro warp bubbles….well this is something science will need to explain

    • John Ståhle says:

      Why would CERN be in trouble and why should heads roll?

      If you read their paper, they do *not* claim neutrinos are superluminal, they ask for input to either verify or falsify.

      Science at its best.

      According to ScienceInsider, the next series of experiments has already been decided on: Subdivide the 10 500 ns proton burst into a series of bunches lasting 1 to 2 nanoseconds; the to be bunches separated by gaps of 500 ns.

      “Faster-Than-Light Result to Be Scrutinized”

  17. Simplicity says:

    “Faster-than-Light Neutrino Puzzle Claimed Solved by Special Relativity
    The relativistic motion of clocks on board GPS satellites exactly accounts for the superluminal effect, says physicist.

  18. One line of thought is that what’s obsereved could be some kind of neutrino-triggered local quantum entanglement at the point of collision with the detectors, which could only have been detected in this experiement because it’s the first time the detectors have been placed so far away.

  19. Terence Burke says:

    Having studied psychology, rather than physics, I enjoy the programs that the BBC produces which allow interested outsiders like me to follow progress in other fields.

    After reading all the posts on this page it is clear that the new speed of light controversy has you guys thinking of new possibilities (thinking outside the textbook box) but you will probably tell me you have been doing just that anyway. If all else fails you still have the single malt to fall back on.

  20. Paul Hoiland says:

    The 1000000 dollar question no matter the answer is how?

  21. Paul Hoiland says:

    In 1991 Hawking argued that physics contains a mechanism which protects itself
    against the formation of time travel mechanisms(1). The effective field theory of gravity inevitably breaks down before the onset of formation of time travel mechanisms even though forward travel is allowed. GR contains a single metric which imposes causality, and conventional matter coupled to GR is (sub)luminal, nevertheless it does admit CTCs for sufficiently peculiar geometries where in nature seems to conspire via certain energy condition stipulations to prevent them also. Then enter the Cern report(2) where in one of the simplest answers is we have two metrics involved in space-time. Two of the simplest solutions to how that can be possible involve Galileon models and massive gravity. Added into this we have certain PV models for the not so empty Einstein vacuum, modern Brane ideas on lensing, micro-warp bubbles. Lost in all this debate is something an old friend of Einstein once pointed out how knowledge always increases.

    Any solution to the CERN finding has to be supplied with a how and why? Science relies upon math to explain a finding. But science unlike math requires observational evidence and experimental evidence. Just because something by the math seems right does not make that something physically correct. All the suggestions out there cannot all be right even though they are all based upon sound math. In fact, the whole CERN finding is itself subject to further review.

    But this whole debate is healthy. It gets everyone thinking outside the box for once and questioning long established dogma. Right now, if I was to place a bet I would suspect the solution is a simple one that is telling us our physical knowledge is about to increase. Nature has always tended to prefer the simple solution. Let’s face it we all know the SM has problems and that GR itself lacks an exact quantum solution. Sooner or later problems where going to show themselves.

    I think the solution lies upon that preventive mechanism for CTC’s.


    1.) S. W. Hawking, “The Chronology protection conjecture,” Phys. Rev. D46 (1992)

  22. Paul Hoiland says:

    “In many fields there are certain things in vogue at a given time. Nearly everything published in high energy physics, for example, is bunk… – it’s a whole castle of cards. Yet you are on safe ground if you write a paper according to the currently accepted style. You will be published, especially if you make some curves and graphs and make it appear that you did some calculations. The fact that it is all a house of cards with very little reality to begin with somehow gets ignored.” – Dr. Lynn Trainor, professor of Physics at the University of Toronto, in Pensee, May 1972, vol 2 No. 2, p44.

    Basically, our house of cards, wrong or right is built upon mathematics. All theory has math behind it. What is often forgotten is that in math one can prove things valid that are not found in nature. Math is a tool of discovery. But it is not the end all. Real science uses the math in conjunction with observation and experiment to support or disprove any theory no matter how exact the math behind the theory appears. For example there are so many free parameters that one can find ~10500 ways to compactify extra dimensions and so on. The problem is as with all theory one needs evidence to support the theory and only then can those parameters be narrowed down even if the path suggested by the math might be correct. The same applies to theories on how the CERN results might come about, the same applies to the whole Higg’s idea. Just because the math is right does not make that math physically correct.

  23. Paul Hoiland says:

    People are right to ask why and how. That is the whole point of science in the first place. People are right to offer objections as long as those objections are founded upon something besides tradiation and dogma that is itself only proven to date because no one has ever found an example counter to that dogma.

  24. Paul Hoiland says:

    Perhaps if we understood conscieness beyond the mere math and concepts we’d already have a clearer picture of how things work in nature that goes beyond all the vector, scalars, and fields approach. Our better theories all show nature to act like a quantum computer and a large holographic machine. But what is the place of I think therefore I am in that machine?

  25. Paul Hoiland says:

    Quantum theory has the observer as part of the experiment itself. Our simple act of observation has impact on the outcome. That tells me the observer has a vital place in the true theory of everything.

  26. John Ståhle says:

    A far flung idea: Can neutrinos’ refraction index be negative, when they move through material, thus speeding up instead of slowing down?

    • Paul Hoiland says:

      Not that far fetched, A friend of mine who uses the PV model has suggested something liked that. In his case he pointred out the small size and mass of the neutrino may allow it to move through the vacuum faster.


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