Gustavo Ballvé on September 23rd, 2011
Food for thought, Science, Signal or Noise

In what is admittedly light reading after yesterday’s trouncing of the equity markets – but loyal readers have read our “Don’t panic” post, right? – there’s bound to be intense debate around this proposition by scientists: it IS, apparently, possible to achieve speeds in excess of the speed of light in a vacuum (at least for neutrinos, that is). It was considered impossible until now (you know, E=mc2) and, if confirmed, it may change quite a few theories. Talk about a ‘black swan’ of enormous proportions. By the way, remember when phosphorus ceased to be a life-defining element? This is bigger, by far. It all hinges on the margin error: the scientists who disclosed the “discovery” have estimated it to be one-sixth of the discrepancy found, but they could be wrong. In fact, a large margin of error is precisely what destroyed a similar claim in 2007. The CERN scientists claim to have “checked and re-checked” but have asked US and Japan labs capable of running roughly the same experiment to confirm the findings.

It’s one of those occasions where we’re supposed to remind you to seek the source material, remain skeptical and filter the signal from the noise. However, the ‘multidisciplinary geek’ in us wants to see some scientific foundations shaken up.

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