O.K. so faster than light claim not quite as trivial as simply measuring a distance.

Having now read around this one a little I am very pleased to report that this isn’t as trivial a problem as getting the correct distance between source and detector.  It’s actually far worse than that 🙂  This is a VERY old chestnut to anybody that has worked to any extent in experimental optics.  The CERN experimental result requires the correlation of fast rising-edge pulses.  Now those of us with an optical background will know of those countless instances where superluminal velocities were “measured” due to improper treatment of the light-pulse SHAPE.  So in my opinion this CERN result, like all the (invalid) superluminal results in experimental optics will soon fall to Einstein’s Razor.

And as I am obviously a “dinosaur” according to those reporting that this faster than light result is expected and is all bound up with multiverses and dark energy and dark matter and all the rest of it I will admit, yes I am a dinosaur.  I only accept a theory if it provides me with predictions of (new) things I can measure to check the validity of the theory (that have not been adequately explained before).  All good theories do this, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Quantum Theory all provide predictions of what will be measured under certain conditions and they give concrete answers to the results of experiments that have never been previously carried out.  The “New Age” theories don’t seem to come along with predictions that allow them to be checked by experiment and are therefore worthless intellectual pursuits in my opinion – and I guess that must make me a dinosaur 🙂


And yes I am very familiar with Popperian philosophy and that it is falsifiability not verifiability that is the issue – but that has nothing to do with requiring a good theory to be predictive.



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3 Responses to O.K. so faster than light claim not quite as trivial as simply measuring a distance.

  1. Pete says:

    I’ve had a look at the paper (on ArXiv), and it seems they are pretty much stumped on this one; their measurement seems well within the statistical and systematic errors, and it looks like they’ve gone over and over it looking for silly mistakes. We will have to see what happens!

  2. Greg Parker says:

    Hi Pete,
    Good to hear from you after all this time 🙂
    I had a look at some of the details – and really they shouldn’t be stumped. Look at the error bars on the correlation graph and tell me that the “speed difference” isn’t comfortably within the error. As I said in the second post – if you’ve worked in optics you’ve seen this one a dozen times before and it’s all to do with incorrect consideration of the true pulse-shape. If this isn’t exactly the same thing under a different guise I’ll be totally amazed. Time will no doubt tell 🙂

    All the best,

    P.S. I would like to say I wish this was true (which in fact I would) but unfortunately my feeling that the likelihood of this being correct is at the 0% level.

  3. Tom How says:

    Read the paper last night… my money is on undetected systematic error, probably in the timing at the propagation end.

    Being younger than Greg I’ll give them 1%-2% chance of being correct. 🙂

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