Friday update: Almost exactly like originally predicted by Jessie, OPERA published a press release in which they tell us that they repeated the experiment with short, 3-nanosecond pulses separated by up to 524 nanoseconds. 20 clean neutrino events confirmed that the timing within the pulse is gotten with less than 3-ns error. The speed remains the same; the mean photons' delay dropped to 57.8 ns from 60.7 ns, not a big deal given the 10 ns total error. You may download the new version of their article (PDF) exclusively through this TRF link.Long pulses were not the problem: mystery continues
Originally posted on Tuesday, November 15th
When OPERA announced that their neutrinos were faster than the speed of light, a very aggressive school of thought – which became influential among many professional physicists and wanted to become the official group think – was saying that the error was caused by OPERA's methodology of identifying corresponding patterns of the pulses on both sides of the neutrinos' journey. This school of thought was saying that the pulses were too long – much longer than the claimed signal – and this created some inaccuracy in measuring the exact time the neutrinos need for their trip.
I have always considered this criticism implausible. In my opinion, the methodology that looks for the highest peaks of each pulse is very clever because the highest peaks have the best statistics so they're the best places to be accurately mapped onto each other. Such analyses of pulses represent a discipline of science in which the experimenters showed their true mental muscles and their main comparative advantage; theorists may often lack the intuition to design measuring strategies that turn out to be accurate. If there were a problem with the identification of the corresponding parts of the pulses, this problem would inevitably display itself as a statistical error in their final results. To summarize my expectations, I didn't even list this experts' "prevailing" opinion among the potential mistakes in the OPERA experiment. I simply couldn't formulate it in such a way that it would make any sense to me.
And new rumors indicate that I was right. According to Jessie Shelton's superpartner (wow, I was joking and derived "Shelton" from "Sheltino" in the Twitter name, but Jessie Shelton turns out to be the physicist's real name!),
On Friday, OPERA is going to release a new public announcement in which they will still describe faster-than-light motion of neutrinos between CERN and Central Italy even though the duration of the pulses in the new measurements will have been reduced to just 3 nanoseconds,much shorter than the claimed delay of photons behind their neutrinos, 60 nanoseconds. It's effectively equivalent to measuring the speed of individual neutrinos.
So within days, everyone will probably have to get used to the fact that the OPERA neutrino speed anomaly has nothing to do with the shape and duration of the pulses. I still believe that a subtle time-independent bug in the whole GPS system's quantification of either positions or times is the most likely explanation of the crazy result; it's followed by other relativistic effects that the experimenters could have incorrectly incorporated; and then by the shocking scenario involving a violation of relativity.
A few hours ago, I just refused to become the main star of a Czech TV program dedicated to the OPERA anomaly (because I just don't like being looked at) – which will be shot (and maybe aired) on Friday, maybe the very same day when the new paper is released. Things are interesting enough so that maybe I should try to contact them and officially change my mind? ;-)
Hat tip: Lisa Randall
A bonus anomaly in the desert: China is luring E.T. aliens
PC Magazine and many others are offering URL links to Google Maps that show strange objects in the Gobi desert, near China's nuclear testing place and space research facilities. You find a grid of streets – a whole replica of the famous City of Pilsen – which was drawn in order to attract the extraterrestrial aliens such as Abbe Hyupsing Qong. The Chinese believe that due to the similarity in languages, they're relatives of the Extraterrestrial Alien Americans. You find many huge multi-kilometer buildings and other anomalies as well.
The area seems to be a Chinese counterpart of the U.S. Area 51 on steroids. If you clicked the previous top-secret link in the previous sentence, the U.S. troops are authorized to terminate your life.
ATLAS and CMS combined their data from various channels using 1.0-2.3/fb from each detector (depending on the channel), about 1/5-1/2 of the data available by now. The result looks almost exactly like Phil Gibbs' reconstructions (up to his slightly different additive shift in the vertical direction) we have seen a long time ago:
There is a two-sigma excess at 119 GeV (coming largely from CMS collisions) and 240 GeV is the only other mass above 140 GeV or so (except for those above 500 GeV) that remains unexcluded at 95% confidence level. These numbers are surely not unfamiliar to regular TRF readers (poll). See also Resonaances, viXra blog.