The Little Neutrino That Couldn’t After All

An excerpt from an IM conversation with physicist and my college roommate, Dr. Nick Cummings, PhD (@internic) about the revelation that the faster-than-light neutrino results of a few months ago were found to be false. Enjoy!

me: i had really gotten my hopes up that science wasn’t as smart as it thought

me: turns out science just didn’t plug the sensor cable in all the way…

me: which i guess confirms my theory in a way

Dr. Nick: Well, you know how it is.  When you find something miraculous you didn’t expect, the explanation is usually that you fucked up.

Dr. Nick: Occasionally it does turn out that nature fucked up.

I have long believed that only a fool believes we have mastered much that there is to be mastered in the universe. I stand with the pioneers, the risk-takers, those who dare to challenge our understanding and push the boundaries of the unknown. When I heard about the discovery of neutrinos that had travelled just a little faster than light, I was overjoyed at the possibility that we had finally stumbled upon that one situation where, as Dr. Nick puts it, nature fucked up.

I’ve studied so-called fringe science for about ten years, and I’m well familiar with myriad claims of over-unity devices, anomalous heat, nuclear transmutation, and gravitational effects, all resulting from a wide variety of experiments. Some of the experiments are done in a hobbyist’s backyard. Others are performed by post-docs in university labs with grant funding and all the resources of a national institution. The effects are usually easily explained phenomena, electromagnetic or kinematic in nature, caused by inadequate shielding or imbalanced mechanisms. On the other hand, some of the results are remarkably compelling. The images from scanning electron microscopy of the electrodes from Dr. Tadahiko Mizuno’s plasma electrolysis work showed incredible structural features. Those same electrodes revealed presence of atoms that were not present in the sample before the experiment, a phenomenon known as nuclear transmutation, not theoretically possible at the energy levels involved.

All this work leads me to believe we have a lot to learn about the universe and its rules. I had hoped that we were on the edge of learning something potentially really cool about the universe. What we ended up learning is that it’s a good idea to check your equipment and make sure everything is plugged in all the way before you announce your game-changing findings in a national forum. Unfortunately, this gives ammunition to those who aim to prove we know everything. That is, until one day when someone finds more evidence to tip the scale again. For days like that, I’m glad I have folks like Dr. Nick to help me make sense of all this cold fusion mumbo jumbo.