Sunday, October 02, 2011

FAZ: Interview with German member of OPERA collaboration

The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) has an interesting interview with Caren Hagner, from the University of Hamburg. Hagner is member of the OPERA collaboration and talked to the journalist Manfred Lindinger. The interview is in German and I thought most of you would probably miss it, so here's some excerpts (translation mine):
Frau Hagner, you are leader of the German group of the OPERA experiment. But one searches in vain for your name on the preprint.

I and a dozen of colleagues did not sign the preprint. I have no reservations about the experiment. I just think it was premature to go public with the results for such an unusual effect like faster than light travel. One should have done more tests. But then the publication would have taken at least 2 months longer. I and other colleagues from the OPERA collaboration wanted these tests to be done.

What tests?

First, a second independent analysis. In particle physics, if one believes to have discovered a new particle or effect, then in general there is not only one group analyzing the data but several. And if all get the same result then one can be convinced it is right. That has not been the case with OPERA.

Why?

Because there hasn't been time. For an effect like faster than light travel the analysis should certainly be controlled. Maybe there is a bug in the program [...] The majority of the collaboration preferred a quick publication.

Hagner also says that the statistical analysis (matching the proton spectrum with that of the neutrinos) should have been redone by different techniques and that this is currently under way. She further points out that the results are only from one of two detection methods that OPERA has, the scintillation-tracker. Another detector, the spectrometer, should yield an independent measurement that could be compared to the first, but that would take about 2 months.

The final question is also worth quoting:
[If true], might satellite navitation in the future be based on neutrino rays rather than light?

Yes, maybe. But then our GPS devices would weigh some thousand tons.

33 comments:

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Hi Bee,

She is a very, very wise woman, but the majority prefers to gamble with results and success.

Where is the risk if one finds in the end there was a bug in the detector? They will apologize for the false claim: "It was only a pre-print" or " There was a bug no one could have seen".

Even if wrong, those autors are now known worldwide, perhaps with great opportunities for the future before them. Wise ones are always right, but do not often win first place.

Best,

Bee said...

Hi Jérôme,

Yes, if one wants to by cynical the equation goes something like this: Big claims * Large Impact factor * log(Maybe wrong) - Measurement mistake * But who'll read the small print 2 months later = Big splash guaranteed. Sometime last year, when Higgs signals came and went, I wondered if the time will come when collaborations will artificially produce rumors just for the headlines. Maybe we're closer than I thought.

Okay, it might be it turns out to be a true effect and in the end we'll all be happy we heard of it so early. But at present it seems to me they just wanted everybody to know about their experiment. I mean, seriously, they could have waited these 2 months, no? But then, they'd have risked there was no headline to make. (Sensation! Neutrinos are not tachyons!) Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Very interesting these objections of Dr. Hagner, especially as this experiment has been running over the course of three years. That is I find it curious most others would not wish to wait another couple of months to have all this either more indisputable or to be found in error. The fact is I don’t think there is another experiment which is now underway and thus why the rush; that is from a competitive perspective. Perhaps I’m too cynical yet with the debt crisis concerns rising in Europe and throughout the world I can’t help thinking this decision was largely tactical, as to say don’t cut our budget when we are obviously breaking new ground.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Just as a further piece of information PI held a little live webcasted explanation and discussion regarding this experiment a few days back. I found it informative as well as balanced as to be in contrast with the media hype. My only regret being it was held during the day at a time I couldn’t just drop things at work as I would have liked the opportunity to field a question, which was otherwise facilitated for in this in the live presentation.

Anyway to cut to the chase here find it as recorded as I thought some others might like to consider their take on this. My own impressions being two; first that all these researchers being fairly confident an error would be found; and yet the second being if in the remote chance this is confirmed it’s not a result any of them were prepared for.

Best,

Phil

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Two months are indeed not very long, but it reflects in fact the crazyness were are in at present.

They probably feared some leak of information about their result and urged themselves publish a pre-print.

In this case it would be a good reason.

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Jérôme,

These results didn’t just suddenly appear yet were being recorded an analyzed over the course of three years. That is there was already ample time for rumours to emerge. That is it still presents to me as a politically motivated tactical decision in regards to funding more than anything else.

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Jérôme,

Yes, possibly they were afraid rumors would spread. There probably have been information leaks. As Phil also pointed out, they must have had the result for some while and it's not the largest collaboration ever, but still large, so there must have been many people who knew about the result.

But instead of living with the (pretty much unavoidable) rumors, they have made a deliberate statement with the press release and the preprint that some information leak would not have made.

Let us keep in mind that it might turn out to be a real result. But either way it is instructive to look at a comparison: The GEO600 "mystery noise" that lurked around for a year or so and then vanished in some calibration error (or so). In this case the collaboration did not ever make any claims about there being some (!) signature for (!) possible quantum gravitational effects. Sure, something leaked, and he from holographic noise Hogan made his model fit a measurement mistake. But thing is that the GEO600 collaboration was careful and came out very gracefully. Also, they didn't make large headlines. There was the unavoidable NewScientist article but even that was cautious. Best,

B.

muon said...

Hi,

Another possibility is that Hagner is underestimating how long these cross checks would take, and the rest of the collaboration believed the delay would be six months or even longer. I never heard of nor saw an analysis in particle physics that could be done in two months or less, especially for a highly controversial result.

It surprises me how quickly so many people trash the reputations of these physicists, claiming they are too weak or sloppy to get the job right. My perspective is different - I see a few brave souls who are willing to risk their reputations to report - tentatively - a perplexing result. For sure they are not doing it just to get a few more Euros...

Michael

Uncle Al said...

Erudite theoretic spews. Comment, countercomment, deathblow.
http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/27212/#comments

This is neither Shrödinger nor Gödel. A superluminal massed body is error or a bobbled spacetime diagram. Nny mechanism allowing it must also have it further accelerate. Negative temps kelvin are easy to access - get an MRI. Coming and going, the thermodynamic state passes through negative and positive infinity degrees. It's a mathematical artifact not a real world inconvenience.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Anyway, we know now this: in 2 months the results got with the other detector will be available.

If it's positive with that too, then I guess we can't no longer deny the fact.

I guess the next step will be: Can one generalize the case of the neutrino to all and every piece of matter?...

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Hi Phil,

These results didn’t just suddenly appear yet were being recorded an analyzed over the course of three years.

Yes, I know it takes long, but considering it's statistics, I guess once they had the sufficient number of shots for estimating a significant speed for the neutrinos, there the excitement broke out and they could not wait any further and they may have realized a leak may then be highly probable as well.

Regards,

Bee said...

HI Muon,

Yes, maybe it takes 6 months instead of 2, but what does it matter? I mean, maybe I'm being German, but I believe scientific history can't be rushed. Look, we have to wait for the checks anyway.

I haven't said anybody is weak or sloppy. I just believe good things take time and I'm wondering what were the reasons for them to create so many headlines while they haven't done all cross-checks. It's not like there is another collaboration doing a similar experiment at the moment. And even if something leaks, so what? As in other cases, we'd still have waited for the collaboration to make an official statement. Best,

B.

Plato said...

Hi,

Maybe a little more elucidation on the subject?

Regardless of the opinions of who signed what and what assumptive s that has been made about scientists, what is of relevance is if it were seen that Cerenkov is representative of the idea that the "mediums of expression" and that not "of the vacuum" could have been exemplified in recognizing phenomenological processes for examination?

Yes you pinpointed Bee in previous post as to where to begin?

Phil your link dd not work and tried to backtrack searching for link before film. Did Epp and title search as well, do you remember link before?

Best,

Plato said...

And a more direct link:

Neutrinos CAN Go Faster Than Light Without Violating Relativity

Until something has been verified does not mean such ideas cannot be explored in the context of the experiments.....what it might mean or factors that would give presumptive information about such measurement processes that are exemplified in the experiments of SNO Ice Cube, of where quantum gravity begins as a question what can illicit backward times to those beginnings.

Affirmative scientist about speed of light with no room to the unexpected are just the run of the mill....and nothing further to add in any discussion? So discussion bout either solidifies or brings opportunities? Dot your "i" and cross your "t" and what is lost? Nothing.

Best,

Plato said...

Contrary to what some Gardeners proposed in poetry(arrogant) for others, this discussion may mean more to those who have been following from Fly's eye experiments, Pierre Auger and Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin Limit that you and Stefan had been working out in terms of energetic values with regard to Fly's Eye?

What is upper limit in relation to those cosmic particle collisions in LHC?

You know now that such collision points provides for some interesting dynamics.

We can always get Clifford to team up again with John Steinberg(clarification of QGP analysis) to bring clarification, and maybe Tommaso can get involved with yourself on what s happening at those colision points?

Best,

Arun said...

Do you understand what goes into the Cohen & Glashow paper that calculates that OPERA could not have seen neutrinos of energy 42 GeV because superluminal neutrinos very quickly shed energy?

Bee said...

Hi Arun,

No. That might be because I didn't read the paper. (I thought tachyons gain energy, no?)

Hi Plato,

Of course neutrinos can go faster than light without violating special relativity. Tachyons are perfectly compatible with special relativity. And for all I know you need a charge for Cherenkov radiation and neutrinos don't have one.


I don't intend to spend time on that result till it has been confirmed. Sorry about that, but I have lots of other things to do. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

I find the link is working for me when I click on it. Is it not taking you anywhere as you do have to click on the play arrow to begin the video. I was wondering if anyone else here has had trouble with the link? Now that I think about it perhaps the link is forcing you to use a particular viewer so try this one.

Best,

Neil Bates said...

While waiting on better hashing of whether neutrinos can indeed go FTL, here's a "fun fact" about them: despite the W/weakness of their interaction, a supernova emits enough of them that even if inhabitants could burrow under an orbiting planet that would not be destroyed by the blast etc. per se, the neutrino flux would kill them.

Plato said...

Thanks Phil,

P.I. Chats: Faster-than-light neutrinos?

That link is what I was looking for...while player appeared on previous link, it did not open to video....I am on faster connection right now so this maybe difference...loading time. Just showed zero for minutes for viewing.....maybe required just a little more patience.

Best

Rastus Odinga Odinga said...

The most depressing thing about the cascade of theoretical papers about this is not the fact that they were turned out in a matter of days --- though that's bad enough. No, the worst thing is that all of the papers I have seen could have been written 20 years ago [and maybe some of them were.....]. Has our collective originality really degenerated to this extent?

Plato said...

Hi Neil,

Again while with most certainty the question around speed of light have been confirmed.....why not considered those effects we might see "where containment in your example sees" photons held to the parameters to which they are expressed, as in supernova(spherical cow), while neutrinos are less affected and show travel times sooner on earth then the photons that have been released. So a distance measure and velocity times.

IceCube while prematurely spoken about provides for a model to inquire as to the nature of such expressions?

How many of those particular experiments have been visited in the Antarctica by people who represent that particular model? Susskind perhaps? What's on his mind when he goes looking?:)

Best,

Plato said...

Hi Bee,

Of course neutrinos can go faster than light without violating special relativity.

That's all that is needed to be said without a scientist speaking to another as if he were a fool:)The PI lecture was handled correctly. Helps expand knowledge base of the general public. Appreciate the appeal to the global network of scientists in this matter of OPERA.

For Sascha Vongehr it's all about brane(homophone in literature) exercising with some caveats for safety?:)

Best,

Neil Bates said...

Sascha Vongehr, with his notions apparently already alluded to here, is an interesting blogger who perhaps pushes the envelope a bit much. He claims, no big causality hassle for superluminal neutrinos per reference to some work out there and his own supporting arguments. In a sense, I think "maybe" he's at least on to something because is it possible to just work off the original velocity addition formula:
u' = (u + v)/(1 + uv/c²).
http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/neutrinos_can_go_faster_light_without_violating_relativity-82950


For example, if tachino or tachtrino (as I dubbed them) velocity in our frame is 1.2c, it would seem to be going17/16 or 1.0626 c to someone approaching it at 0.5c. That's weird, to be less than before, but note that there does have to be a way to transform velocities >c: the movement of non-signaling phenomena like pre-arranged flash patterns, intersection of scissor crossings (as in a famous example, was it in Gardner's old "Relativity for the Millions" which also noted, you can't use e.g. scissors or poles for FTL since the interaction is still limited by c.)

However I am aware that given enough velocity one could try to change the past using simultaneity differences, is that as bad a problem as it seems? Most people think we'd need some kind of absolute frame to sort things out, as indeed needed for e.g. Bohmian mechanics to reach out and fiddle with distant particles in response to e.g. Renninger measurements. (Copenhagen doesn't have to care, since it's saying, we can't represent anyway. Gropenhagen?)

Georg Lentze said...

Let me venture a simpler explanation why superluminal signals would not lead to any reversal of cause and effect and would not enable time travel into the past: Einstein's clock adjustment procedure is not a synchronization procedure in all inertial frames of reference, and when clocks are not synchronized the concept of cause and effect becomes inapplicable to signals that are sufficiently fast.

In 1910, Einstein said a clock adjustment procedure involving signals is only a synchronization procedure if the means of sending signals is "such that we have no reason to believe that the phenomena of signal transmission in the direction AB differ in any way from the phenomena of signal transmission in the direction BA". Given what we know about light empirically, Einstein's clock adjustment procedure cannot meet this requirement in all frames of reference at once. In fact, Einstein's goal was not to synchronize clocks but, as he said in his famous 1905 paper, to "arrive at a simple and consistent electrodynamics of moving bodies on the basis of Maxwell's theory for bodies at rest", and this he did brilliantly even without synchronizing his clocks.

Bee said...

Hi George,

You might be interested in this paper http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.6160 Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Neil,

The bottom line for me is to being able to confident in the tracking and identification of particles which if were to travel through a light year of lead have only a 50/50 chance of interacting with any of it to be taken as a serious result without exercising maximal care and caution.

Regards,

Phil

Plato said...

Lets go back to the beginning?

Before I comment on the result, let me give you a little background on the whole thing. Opera is a very innovative concept in neutrino detection. Its aim is to detect tau neutrino appearance in a beam of muon neutrinos.By Tommaso Dorigo

Best,

Plato said...

Just a continua Bee by Theoretical Physicist Matt Strassler, in, Is the OPERA Speedy Neutrino Experiment Self-Contradictory?

There is much there to learn and thought to include the idea that the GZK upper limit. How energetic valuation may be seen as a "parameter constraint" required by Cohen-Glashow. I know you have done calculation(?) there so I thought that might be important? Maybe not?

Best,

Zephir said...

My stance is, OPERA results are real and they should be published ASAP. IMO we can model the space-time (brane) with density gradient at the phase interface of two elastic fluids. After then a two kinds of solitons will appear: A) the one, which corresponds to photons and it spreads with slightly lower speed, than the transverse surface waves (which are serving as an analogy of light waves) B) the faster one, which corresponds the neutrinos and it will spread with slightly higher speed, than the surface ripples. The first kind of solitons results from coupling of surface ripples with longitudinal bulk waves of more dense phase, the second one from coupling of surface ripples with longitudinal waves of less dense phase. From this perspective the neutrinos would behave like the superpartners of gamma ray photons, i.e. like the lightweight photinos.

Steven Colyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Colyer said...

"My stance is, OPERA results are real and they should be published ASAP." ... Zephir

We are not surprised, God of the Wind. How are your efforts to have your work published in a respectable publication coming along, hmm?

I take the opposite view..

There are 4 ways things could have gone wrong to explain away the results.

The first is that the Physics was wrong. Least likely.

The second is that the design of the OPERA apparatus was wrong. Much more likely. Blame the Engineers, heh.

The third and most likely was that the machine was built improperly. Blame the Contractors.

The fourth is that the experiment was run improperly. Blame the Chief Experimentalist.

All 4 possibilities must be considered. It will probably take a year, both to properly analyze these results, and to get the American confirmation/denial of the repeated experiment. Not sure how long for the Japanese confirmation/denial.

"In the future," said Lee Smolin, quoting him completely out of context from TRtQG but it fits,"we'll know more."

So I'm not worried, and can be patient and wait. In the meantime, Science marches on.