If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 23 September 2011

A Lesson for 'Science'?

A Large Hadron collider, yesterday.

I was fascinated by this article over at the BBC website. It seems that experiments at CERN have found that particles in one of their experiments may have exceeded the speed of light.
Puzzling results from Cern, home of the Large Hadron Collider, have confounded physicists because subatomic particles seem to have beaten the speed of light.

Neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away in Italy seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second early.
Now, I am no expert. In fact, I failed Physics O-level, so I am not qualified to comment on the science, other than to say 'Wow' a bit and wonder if the whole concept of a universal speed limit was a bit too deterministic of Einstein. No, what this post is about is the scientists' reaction to this (if true) paradigm-shifting discovery. They're doing it all wrong.
The result - which threatens to upend a century of physics - were put online for scrutiny by other scientists.
First mistake. What if someone looked at the data and found an error? The scientists would look foolish and wrong, and would have to go back to the beginning and start again.
In the meantime, the group says it is being very cautious about its claims.
Second mistake. If you think you have results which will change the way we look at the world, you need to be bold and positive, not cautious. Otherwise people will think you are uncertain, and they will stop your funding.
They will be discussing the result in detail in a conference at Cern on Friday afternoon, which can be viewed online.
Jesus, these guys. A conference? Online? That means almost anybody could turn up and attack your theories. Even members of the public. Even scientists who aren't in your specialism, and what do they know?
"We tried to find all possible explanations for this," said report author Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration.

"We wanted to find a mistake - trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects - and we didn't," he told BBC News.
Rank bloody amateurs. You've found an explanation you're happy with, yes? It's pretty earth-shattering and goes against not only conventional wisdom but common sense, but that's all the more reason to stick to your guns. All this lily-livered looking for alternatives and searching for errors; it's all a waste of time.
"When you don't find anything, then you say 'Well, now I'm forced to go out and ask the community to scrutinise this.'"
No you don't. You keep it to yourselves, discredit anyone who disagrees, bluster and bully, and claim 'the science is settled'.

But then, you're not proper scientists, are you?


  1. If only UEA-CRU was so open.

    BTW - Is there a Small Hadron Collider?

  2. It seems they are following the correct scientific method precisely. The contrast with the Climategate people couldn't be clearer.

    BTW - yes, I have one in my shed. It's very small.

  3. Neutrino Joke: "We don't allow faster-than-light neutrinos in here," said the bartender. A neutrino walks into a bar.

  4. Why are they called neutrinos? With all this recent popularisation of physics by Brian Cox and Patrick Moore, I propose that they should be renamed cappucinos.

  5. Well, the Microsoft Sound ws written by Brianino, so why not?


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...