That Time Neutrinos Moved Faster Than Light. Major Uh-Oh.
Michio Kaku tells the story of one super-scary mistake in physics and reminds us how hard it is to get science right.
Science is hard, especially when you’re out on the edges of the unknown. Mistakes get made, and usually corrected over time. But no one expected this.
Late in the winter of 2011, Antonio Ereditato, leader of the OPERA collaboration studying neutrino physics, received a phone call from a man analyzing data from an experiment being conducted in CERN’s tunnel. Ereditato recalls, “He said, ‘I see something strange,’" which was an understatement considering what he saw: Neutrinos seemed to have traveled CERN’s 454-mile tunnel so fast they’d arrived at the target detector 60.7 nanoseconds faster than light could.
That’s not supposed to be possible—Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity states that no object with mass can travel faster than light. It was, as physicist Ransom Stephens put it in Nautilus, “An atom bomb in the heart of our understanding of the universe.”
It seems like Michio Kaku wasn't that worried. More like amused.
Ironically, as Kaku points out, the GPS used to calibrate OPERA’s measurements is itself based on relativity, so in a way, relativity was disproving itself, kind of a tipoff. The video above is from 2012. Since that time, it’s been confirmed by multiple authorities that OPERA’s result was incorrect.
You can get down off the ledges now, Science.
Headline image by AFP
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Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.
The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.
A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
- The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
- According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.
- When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
- When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
- Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.
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