Faster-than-light neutrinos? “Hold on to that ketchup for now”

XKCD's take on public understanding of science

If you’ve been confused by recent reports of the on again/off again ‘faster-than-light’ neutrinos Professor Matt Strassler explains, in relatively straight-forward terms, why neither the updated OPERA experiment, nor the findings from ICARUS, really changes the situation.  For now.

And as theoretical physicist Jim “I will eat my boxer shorts on live TV” Al-Khalili says at Comment is Free

The point is that Icarus no more proves Einstein right than Opera proves him wrong. Both results are experimental measurements, not discoveries. A proper test would involve a new experiment carried out independently by another lab, and plans are under way in Japan and the US, but they will take some months at least.

I would love it if neutrinos could indeed travel faster than light. Such a discovery, if confirmed, would be heaven for physicists around the world: blackboards will be scrawled on, heads scratched, and Nobel prizes in the offing for a new Einstein.

And my boxers? Hold on to that ketchup for now; my money is still on Einstein. He was, after all, pretty smart. And I am not prepared to rewrite my lecture course on relativity just yet. But what fun, eh?


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