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Go to: Neutrino experiment repeat at Cern finds same result

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Jump to comment 89 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 87 by Ignorant Amos

Well yes, you can see the problem. Clearly there is a conundrum at the highest levels. Mathematical purity vs a physical reality which may be dodgy in both its infinitesimally small and infinitely large logics.

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 11:54:44 UTC | #892755

Go to: Neutrino experiment repeat at Cern finds same result

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Jump to comment 86 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 85 by DavidMcC

That's a very interesting point. Please could the two of you develop it. Is it a philosophic conundrum or does it have actual practical relevance?

Bertrand Russell is quoted as saying....

"Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true."

And Albert Einstein....

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 10:47:05 UTC | #892747

Go to: Neutrino experiment repeat at Cern finds same result

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 77 by Alex, adv. diab.

Einstein is no more "god-like" in physics than Darwin in biology, and he was wrong about enough things.

Well I'm not trying to get the last word but Darwin is pretty god-like in the universe of evolutionary biology. Not all gods get everything right of course. The Greek gods screwed-up a-plenty. On the Mount Olympus of science Einstein is unquestionably there with fellow gods Newton, Galileo, Darwin, Kepler, Heisenberg, et al. Einstein was off the mark at times as you say, but he was on the mark where it mattered - the product of natural genius as opposed to trained genius. It seems to me that it is easy enough to do the jigsaw once someone else hands it to you in a box. The gods of science are those 'someone elses'.

I'm not an especial follower of the 'great man' theory of history. As James Watson admitted; the double helix would have revealed itself to someone else sooner or later. It just revealed itself to he and Crick sooner rather than later, happily for them. By the same token general relativity would have occured to someone else sooner or later. Nevertheless it seems to me that those scientists with a genius confident enough to challenge the crystalising orthodoxy will be the next gods invited to join the others on the Mount. Could be a CERN scientist. But whatever, things are looking up.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 13:38:47 UTC | #892566

Go to: Neutrino experiment repeat at Cern finds same result

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Jump to comment 76 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 70 by mmurray

Have you got an explicit example of this kind of behaviour that is not just the result of crappy journalism ?

Well of course the press will be all over anything that hints of sensational controversy. The boxer short-eating promise of one of the apparently speed-of-light-is-sacred scientists was a gift to copy writers struggling to get science on to the front pages. What next? Hacked e-mails from CERN?? Deniers in the pay of fossil-light companies?? Obscure scientists seeking a route to fame and fortune?? Just one more cyclotron and we'll be there.

I can't be as specific as you ask. The news came and the news went. One was left with the impression that a hallowed scientific truth had been challenged. Einstein - God-like in the panoply of the scientific enterprise - looked as if he might be asked to step down if the OPERA findings turned out to be valid. An unthinkable proposition. Who would replace him?

I saw in the public reaction of numerous of the scientists of which I refer a clinging to a dogma rather than an open-mindedness to the possibility of fundamental change. True, a billion times can an experiment tell a story, the same story, and it becomes the de facto truth. And then suddenly it tells a different story and instead of thrilling to the prospect of the scientific principle of falsification on the very cusp of vindication we had scientists swearing by the summary truth of the old way. Cerebral money was on the speed of light being an unchallengable truth.

Well in the end it may be, although you are quite correct in saying that the final word on physics is not in. Inductive reasoning can never lead to final truth. There's always, as Columbo used to say, 'Just one more question'.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 11:48:03 UTC | #892545

Go to: Neutrino experiment repeat at Cern finds same result

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 68 by Alex, adv. diab.

People like Brian Cox are in kind of a conundrum here.

Indeed they are. In Brian Cox's case I was struck by his open-mindedness about the OPERA findings. He kept saying things like 'If the results are true', 'If the findings are accurate', and so on. This suggested to me that Cox was not one of the summary 'impossible' scientists, a boxer short-eating type.

I think the public have been conditioned somewhat by the controversial climate change issue. It is imagined that for truth to be valid all scientists must be in agreement at all times. Thus we have the truth of climate change because so many scientists proclaim its truth. If some scientists disagree they are either renegades, incompetents, deniers or worse - just plain corrupt. The public don't realise that the history of science charts the progress of disagreement, which continues to this day.

In the case of the speed of light issue the public saw the morning headlines as 'Speed of Light Exceeded' - and the news came from the site of one of the most colossally expensive experimental set-ups in scientific history - or any history - over which a halo of public awe had descended and from which physics-busting revelations (the newspapers are replete with the anticipated 'new physics') had been eagerly anticipated. Yet as soon as a phenomenal result is achieved high-profile spokesmen from among the rest of the scientific community summarily flag it down - apparently because a natural truth must be presumed to have been negated - which cannot be contemplated. The results were therefore probably an error. All that money. All that fabulous set-up. All those PhDs - and no one believes them. So who are the bone-fide truth seekers and who are the deniers in the speed of light controversy? (I realise this can't be answered because the results have not yet been universally re-examined. It is science-in-progress rather than science-in-crisis.)

My post was simply the airing of a lay observation that, like the religious dogmatists who brook no disagreements with the self-evident truths of their revealed wisdoms, the speed-of-light-is-sacred scientists seemed to be answering the call of a parallel dogma. Foundational truth is a natural human predilection, and scientists are only human. It the speed of light is able to serve in that role then the summary negative reaction of the many scientists I read in the press, who had not participated in the OPERA program, is understandable. What time-served physicist wants it all undone before his (or her of course) very eyes, thrilling though it must promise to the young turks?

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 00:40:49 UTC | #892471

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