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The CERN experiment that appeared to see faster-than-light neutrinos has repeated its results, except that not everyone on the team agrees

The uncertainty of science: The CERN experiment that appeared to see faster-than-light neutrinos has repeated its results, except that not everyone on the team agrees.

The new tests, completed 6 November, did away with the statistical analysis by splitting each pulse into bunches just 1- to 2-nanoseconds long, allowing each neutrino detected at Gran Sasso to be tied to a particular bunch produced at CERN. These tests were carried out over 10 days and provided 20 events. The researchers confirmed that the neutrinos arrived 60 nanoseconds early, with an uncertainty of about 10 nanoseconds, comparable to that of the initial result. The collaboration has also checked its original statistical analysis, but today’s decision to submit the results to a journal was not unanimous. “About four people” among the group of around 15 who did not sign the preprint have signed the journal submission, according to a source within the collaboration, while “four new people” have decided not to sign. That leaves the number of dissenters at about 15, compared with about 180 who did sign the journal submission.

Faster than light?

Can neutrinos travel faster than light? After three years of gathering data, an experiment at CERN says they do, though by only a tiny amount.

[Physicist Antonio] Ereditato says that he is confident enough in the new result to make it public. The researchers claim to have measured the 730-kilometre trip between CERN and its detector to within 20 centimetres. They can measure the time of the trip to within 10 nanoseconds, and they have seen the effect in more than 16,000 events measured over the past two years. Given all this, they believe the result has a significance of six-sigma — the physicists’ way of saying it is certainly correct.

You can download and read a preprint of their paper here.

What I find intriguing about this result, other than its exciting groundbreaking possibilities, is how it illustrates sharply the contrast between normal and healthy science, and the sad and sick state of the field of climate science.
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