Scientists make startling discovery

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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Sabindeus » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:07 pm

Treck wrote:And while i dont know exactly what Thecks physic's education entails, i still think (and hope) the scientists working with this on Cern would have a better idea on what they are suppose to be doing.


No but I think you missed my point. You don't know Theck's education background, nor do you know that of the scientists reporting this find, so how can you come to the conclusion that his education differs/is somehow worse/better than the CERN scientists?
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby theckhd » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:11 pm

Treck wrote:And while i dont know exactly what Thecks physic's education entails, i still think (and hope) the scientists working with this on Cern would have a better idea on what they are suppose to be doing.


Also, let's go back to this point for a second. Don't get lulled into an "appeal to authority" argument. The scientists at CERN are scientists, not gods. They can and do make mistakes, just like all of us do. Let's look at exactly what they're reporting:

1) They observed particles appearing to travel faster than c. This isn't news; we've known how to do this with electrons and photons for years now under the right circumstances.

2) They claim to have looked at and ruled out most of the obvious circumstances that would explain the phenomenon based on (1). Whether they did or not needs more scrutiny, but the easiest explanation for the effect is that they simply overlooked one such circumstance.

3) They do not claim to have an explanation for the effect. That's important, because it means they don't trust the result yet. They're basically asking for other people to find their mistake. That's not shameful - sometimes it just takes another set of eyes, or a set of eyes from a discipline where the effect you're seeing is more common and better understood.

That's why I hesitate to comment on the neutrino-ness of the experiment. I'm not a nuclear physicist, it's not my area. I only have a rudimentary understanding of that area, and I wouldn't expect a neutrino particle physicist to have a deep understanding of my small sub-field of nonlinear optics.

4) They have not demonstrated faster-than-light information transfer, which is the key component to making any claims about causality violation. They're very careful to avoid making statements like that for good reason - I suspect that even they don't believe it's possible, so they don't want to be mis-quoted as such (even though they will anyway - the media is terrible about this sort of thing).
Last edited by theckhd on Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Jeremoot » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:13 pm

Theck is a Laser Physicist by trade, he doesn't just do it for fun. He has a better understanding of this than I or most people on this forum ever will. :lol:

Obviously I can't say that he would be better at determining an explanation for the study at hand, but I'm sure he has a pretty damn good handle on it.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Treck » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:25 pm

theckhd wrote:....

Right, because I'm just a math guy on a forum somewhere.

Pay no attention to the fact that I'm defending a Ph.D. thesis next week centered on measuring and explaining faster-than-light quantum particle tunneling. That's obviously not relevant to the topic at hand. Or something.

I never said that.
And you are obviously more than well versed in the topic, even so i still think the team at Cern handling this issue might be more qualified, i could be wrong.

theckhd wrote:I'll tell you what, speculate all you want, I'll give you $1000 USD if this ends up leading to a true causality violation, and isn't just a simple particle wavefunction reshaping effect. Because I guarantee that nothing they observed is going to violate causality, and in all likelihood it's not even at odds with our current understanding of physics. Just like every other "ooh we've got faster-than-light propagation" news articles over the past 20 years that turned out to be something mundane.

I never did any speculating.
And i DONT think their data is correct, but since i dont work at Cern and only studied a bit of physics on university level i cant even begin to speculate how they got the results they got.

theckhd wrote:Also, FTL travel isn't theoretically possible without breaking the laws of relativity, at least as far as we know.

FTL travel without moving faster than light, through manipulation of spacetime, is theoreticly possible within the laws of relativity.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby theckhd » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:33 pm

Treck wrote:
theckhd wrote:Also, FTL travel isn't theoretically possible without breaking the laws of relativity, at least as far as we know.

FTL travel without moving faster than light, through manipulation of spacetime, is theoreticly possible within the laws of relativity.


Are you sure about that? Is manipulating spacetime even possible, outside of a black hole or some other singularity? I'm asking honestly here, because I don't know - I have very little experience with General Relativity, which is where warping spacetime would come into play. But I was under the impression that even in GR with highly-warped space time, Einstein causality was preserved.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Xenix » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:07 pm

theckhd wrote:I'll tell you what, speculate all you want, I'll give you $1000 USD if this ends up leading to a true causality violation, and isn't just a simple particle wavefunction reshaping effect.


Heh - that requires the posting of today's xkcd comic about this subject:
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On the subject of faster-than-light travel without breaking general relativity, the main two things I've seen (not an expert) are

a) somehow transfer your vehicle/information/whatever to another universe/dimension/whatever where that limit is higher, then come back (essentially saying GR in the -other- universe isn't broken) - this is generally used in most sci-fi books.

or

b) making a stable macroscopic wormhole, possible under GR but requiring matter with negative mass/energy. While you wouldn't exceed the speed of a beam of light going through said wormhole with you, you'd get to the other end faster than a beam of light that didn't take the wormhole. Also,if you could accelerate one end of the wormhole up to relativistic speeds, you could also theoretically travel through time as well, going back/forth an amount of time equal to the difference in apparent time between the two ends of the wormhole. (and lots of other fun stuff, no doubt)
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Treck » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:23 pm

theckhd wrote:Are you sure about that? Is manipulating spacetime even possible, outside of a black hole or some other singularity? I'm asking honestly here, because I don't know - I have very little experience with General Relativity, which is where warping spacetime would come into play. But I was under the impression that even in GR with highly-warped space time, Einstein causality was preserved.

The most popular explanation for spacetime manipulation currently involves exotic matter such as negative mass, and yes mathematicly possible, it hasnt been observed or measured.
Actually manipulating spacetime is incredibly easy, by moving any object you are in effect manipulating spacetime.
As space and time are related, and since any object in space has a gravitational pull, its affecting spacetime.
So by creating an object with a high enough gravitational pull we can manipulate spacetime accordingly.
Working with negative mass you can surround yourself in a spacetime bubble that propells forward at some speed, without actually moving.
The bubble of space would be moving with you in it, and since your not moving in the space you are in, you would not defy GR.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Xenix » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:15 pm

Oh yeah - forgot about that one. cHere's the Wikipedia link to it (with all the nice sources cited at the bottom for reading material).
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Dantriges » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:18 pm

I don´t think that someone thinks low of your knowledge Theck.

It´s more that announcing you discovered FTL is a sure way to attract media attention and close peer review. And it´s probably a good way to dump your reputation and credibility.
Seems that they see it the same way. They distanced themselves as far as possible from the results. They more or less posted them and said, must be an error.

So this lab is part of Cern or was part of the experiment conducted at CERN at least. CERN probably has many top qualified scientists there working in the field for decades. They probably have the budget to have the time to fine comb their results, lab equipment and whatever else for possible mistakes. And the connection to scientists with possible helpful knowledge they could contact without making an announcement that even laymen register and the media will probably exaggerate quite a lot.

You can bet that there will be some guys who will call the whole thing a failure, combine it with the "Black Hole could devour us all" stuff and call the whole affair of CERN a failure for political brownie points. At least CERN will lose reputation in the process, at least in the laymen area, if it´s a simple mistake.

As laymen we have no idea how exotic your knowledge is, so the first reaction is that people refuse to believe that the answer comes from a guy who posted it in an internet forum about WoW in general and paladin tanking specifically.

You will probably check your idea with your peers and the guys who review your defense, too.

And well the media will probably make you a genius prodigy student, if you found the answer to this riddle because you don´t have your Ph.D. yet and ridicule the guys at CERN who have I don´t know a hundred Ph.Ds together and a not yet one had to show them . :wink: .

The yellow press probably makes it "WoW player found answer CERN did not. Is WoW good for the education of your child."

Thanks we could need some positive rep. :D
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby sahiel » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:33 pm

Personally my knowledge of physics is older, unused mostly, and in a somewhat different field (geophysics), so whilst the discovery of new ways the universe functions would be amazing, I'm strongly expecting someone to find an error, mistake, whatever, but something overlooked that explains it, it seems the most likely explanation and as has been said, the scientists involved are practically saying "Someone figure out what happened, cause this can't be right". That said, some relatively serious scientists are weighing in on the quality of the experiments so it seems that if that is the case it might be something pretty esoteric.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2 ... tered.html

Regardless though, science in the news, and in a positive light and even some of the reports being mostly factual and not "OMG FTL travel is here!!!!111" is always something I look forwards to.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby theckhd » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:20 pm

Treck wrote:
theckhd wrote:Are you sure about that? Is manipulating spacetime even possible, outside of a black hole or some other singularity? I'm asking honestly here, because I don't know - I have very little experience with General Relativity, which is where warping spacetime would come into play. But I was under the impression that even in GR with highly-warped space time, Einstein causality was preserved.

The most popular explanation for spacetime manipulation currently involves exotic matter such as negative mass, and yes mathematicly possible, it hasnt been observed or measured.
Actually manipulating spacetime is incredibly easy, by moving any object you are in effect manipulating spacetime.
As space and time are related, and since any object in space has a gravitational pull, its affecting spacetime.
So by creating an object with a high enough gravitational pull we can manipulate spacetime accordingly.
Working with negative mass you can surround yourself in a spacetime bubble that propells forward at some speed, without actually moving.
The bubble of space would be moving with you in it, and since your not moving in the space you are in, you would not defy GR.


I probably should have been clearer there; obviously you warp spacetime simply by having mass. But that warping isn't enough to create a situation where FTL is allowed - that takes a much more significant manipulation, like the one you described. As far as I'm aware (which isn't very far, again, GR isn't really my area), the only way to create a manipulation that would allow FTL effects involves things that for all practical purposes don't exist, like negative mass or wormholes or what not.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Sagara » Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:29 pm

Unrelated, but I think my respect for theck just skyrocketed AGAIN.
Right now I'm considering that this respect is a proper allegory as to what the CERN guys tought they did with the speed of light.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Treck » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:29 am

theckhd wrote:But that warping isn't enough to create a situation where FTL is allowed - that takes a much more significant manipulation, like the one you described. As far as I'm aware (which isn't very far, again, GR isn't really my area), the only way to create a manipulation that would allow FTL effects involves things that for all practical purposes don't exist, like negative mass or wormholes or what not.

You are correct, the energys you would have to create for this kind of FTL travel would be something like the energy of a sun infront of you, and an equally large ammount with negative matter behind you.
It will basicly be easier to create a manmade black hole, not to mention that negative matter hasnt been confirmed to exist in our universe.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Klaudandus » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:06 pm

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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby sahiel » Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:12 pm

Klaudandus wrote:Where we're going, we won't need eyes to see.

Love that movie :D
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Brekkie » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:43 pm

Thanks for your insights Theck. I was hoping to hear your take on this. God I love how eclectic a community this is. From the Osama bin Laden raid to particle physics to politics in Russia, we always seem to have somebody who can give direct insights from experience.

They would not publish this if they knew what went wrong.
And while i dont know exactly what Thecks physic's education entails, i still think (and hope) the scientists working with this on Cern would have a better idea on what they are suppose to be doing.


That's not how science works.
The entire culture is specifically one of constant questioning. You don't publish results because you are certain of them. You publish them in large part so that the entire scientific community can weigh in and check you work and see how it may apply to or connect with theirs.

Plus, as already mentioned, they DIDN'T publish yet.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Sagara » Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:01 pm

FOr anyone who has played Mage: the Awakening, I remember a sidenote that was basically this: There is no "proven" theories, only theories that are supported by evidence.

WhHen new evidence comes up that disproves a theory, either you disprove the evidence, or you seek a theory that accounts for the extra data - but no amount of evidence can "prove" a theory.

Which in turns reminds me why I have some faith in science: it's doesn't have faith in itself :p
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby theckhd » Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:23 am

Sagara wrote:Which in turns reminds me why I have some faith in science: it's doesn't have faith in itself :p


Or to put it another way: it has faith in the method, which is to constantly question and re-evaluate based on the evidence.

Also, Nukees ran a pretty amusing comic on the subject today:
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Sagara » Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:32 am

theckhd wrote:Or to put it another way: it has faith in the method, which is to constantly question and re-evaluate based on the evidence.

Also, *strip*


Now that more mean towards the press than fair towards science :) Bad Theck!

Still had a good laugh.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Malthrax » Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:37 am

Brekkie wrote:Plus, as already mentioned, they DIDN'T publish yet.


Exactly. They didn't publish their findings as fact, they basically said "huh.. this is funky, and we can't figure out where the error is. sum1s plz halp!!"
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Treck » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:30 am

I meant that they published the article, never said they published their finds as facts.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby theckhd » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:17 am

Treck wrote:I meant that they published the article, never said they published their finds as facts.


They didn't publish the article. They uploaded it to the arXiv, which makes it publicly available. Saying they "published" the paper implies it was published in a peer-reviewed journal, which isn't the case. That may seem like a subtle distinction, but it's an important one; peer-review is an important part of the scientific process, and having something published in a peer-reviewed journal indicates that other experts in the field have checked your work/methodology and decided that you haven't missed something obvious.

In some sense, by putting their results on the arXiv, they're offering it up for peer-review by everyone.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Sagara » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:18 am

In WoW terms: they're beta-testing their results after F&F alpha tests, but before release?
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby Treck » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:20 am

Marking words now?

At the point when they made this public, they obviously didnt find a simple explanation for it.
SOMEONE published the article so people could read it, and they wouldnt have been able to do so if the team working with this project knew what was the cause of this, and since they do not they made the information public for everyone to review.
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Re: Scientists make startling discovery

Postby theckhd » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:12 pm

Treck wrote:Marking words now?

At the point when they made this public, they obviously didnt find a simple explanation for it.
SOMEONE published the article so people could read it, and they wouldnt have been able to do so if the team working with this project knew what was the cause of this, and since they do not they made the information public for everyone to review.


I'm not "marking" words. In the scientific community, "publishing" generally carries a very specific meaning - namely being submitted, accepted and printed in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It implies a degree of reliability and that the results and have been scrutinized by an external reviewer.

Peer review:
The lack of peer review is what makes most technical reports and World Wide Web publications unacceptable as contributions to the literature. The relatively weak peer review often applied to books and chapters in edited books means that their status is also second-tier, unless an author's personal standing is so high that prior achievement and a continued stake in one's reputation within the scientific community signals a clear expectation of quality.

The emergence of institutional digital repositories where scholars can post their work as it is submitted to a print-based journal has taken formal peer review into a state of flux. Though publicizing a preprint online does not prevent it from being peer reviewed, it does allow an unreviewed copy to be widely circulated. On the positive side this change has led to faster dissemination of novel work within the scientific community; on the negative it has made it more difficult to discern a valid scientific contribution from the unmeritorious.


That is not the case for this work, yet - that's the entire reason they uploaded it to the arXiv for everyone to read and peer review. Hell, the very last line of the paper is a giant disclaimer:
Despite the large significance of the measurement reported here and the stability of the
analysis, the potentially great impact of the result motivates the continuation of our studies in
order to investigate possible still unknown systematic effects that could explain the observed
anomaly. We deliberately do not attempt any theoretical or phenomenological interpretation of
the results.


The ironic thing is that this is a very stupid point to argue about, because I have no doubt that they could have simply published the data in a peer-reviewed journal without any interpretation. They just chose not to, presumably because making it freely available on the arXiv will get it wider exposure and be more likely to identify their error, if one exists. If the 30 or so scientists on the paper couldn't find an error, what's the likelihood that 2-3 reviewers who have less direct knowledge of the experiment would find one?
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