Remember that experiment at CERN a few weeks back that scientists reported measuring neutrinos traveling at faster-than-light velocities that had everyone talking about a possible revolution in physics? Well, back then I urged everyone to be very cautious about that whole idea, for a variety of reasons, not the least being that it would have to be repeated - again and again in fact - and more careful measurements taken.
Well, the ever vigilant phys.org is reporting that they are preparing to do just that:
This excites me for a number of reasons. First, the way the new experiment is being described as being set up, it will allow more accurate measurements to be taken. This is the normal process of science. If this experiment should falsify the previous results, more experiments will be performed to confirm those results. And, by the same token, should it confirm the previous results, again, more experiments will have to be performed, with appropriate modifications to see if the reported faster-than-light results of the first experiment are dependent on any other factors. This is the normal process of science, and it is an exciting one to watch.
Just a caution though, to those who would view the latter result as a falsification of Einstein. It would, in my opinion, be rather an indicator that relativity, like Newtonian mechanics, is a subset of a larger phenomenon, just as Newtonian mechanics is a subset within relativity. To be sure, confirmation of the previous faster-than-light results will send scientists back to their equations, and then will begin the fascinating process of proposing new models, doing more experiments, and so on. But we should not think that the edifice of physics will come crashing down. There have been a number of theories out there for years predicting super-luminal phenomena. One need only think of Heim theory for example.
Part of me hopes that the previous faster-than-light results will be confirmed, for I like to watch a good and lively science debate, and I suspect that the debate, like Einstein's original relativity papers, will be lively indeed. One need only consider how lively (though largely hidden in various international science journals and papers) the debate on so-called "Cold fusion" has been. Virtually banned in this country, the Japan Journal of Applied Physics has published a number of experimental papers. So we're in for a treat if the previous result is confirmed by more experiments. The real fun will be to watch the proposed models to explain the phenomenon.
Keep your fingers crossed folks, and hope that the previous results will be confirmed, for then the fun will start, as new models are proposed!