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Neutrino Data Could Spell Trouble For Relativity

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the stay-put-will-you dept.

Science 279

Science News has an exploration of the deeper implications of neutrino oscillation, one experimental confirmation of which we discussed last month. "The new findings could even signal a tiny breakdown of Einstein's theory of special relativity. ... MINOS [for Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search] found that during a 735-kilometer journey from Fermilab to the Soudan Underground Laboratory in Minnesota, about 37 percent of muon antineutrinos disappeared — presumably morphing into one of the other neutrino types — compared with just 19 percent of muon neutrinos. ... That difference in transformation rates suggests a difference in mass between antineutrinos and neutrinos. ... With the amount of data collected so far, there's just a 5% probability that the two types of particles weigh the same."

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279 comments

Not trouble... (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 years ago | (#32712618)

This isn't trouble, we already know there are problems with the theory, we just don't have any measurements that give us an idea of how to fix it (of course the theory works well enough in most cases). Any measurements like this that give us something unexpected are great things, they can give us a more accurate picture of how the world is, help the theory become more accurate. Always look for the flaws in your theory, for that is where the greatest discoveries are hidden.

It's easily explained... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32712640)

Everything and everyone in Minnesota is fat. Fatty fatty fat fat fatty fat fatty fat fat Cmdr Taco fat fat chubby fat.

Re:Not trouble... (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | about 4 years ago | (#32712658)

Since every theory is a simplified model, every theory has problems. Sometimes the model works just fine at the resolution and scope for which it is intended (eg: Hooke's Law). It's the cases where you know it's broken within the bounds it should be working for, but you don't know where or why, that are the exciting ones. In the case of relativity, we know it's incompatible with QM at some level that includes gravity but may extend beyond that. We now know that it also has problems with neutrino mass. It may be that relativity can be fixed - at least for neutrinos - but either relativity or QM (or maybe both) =must= break down entirely within their intended scope in a way that is irretrievable. But nobody knows which, when, why or how.

But this is the fun of science! Science would have no purpose if it weren't for the ferreting out of the glitches and flaws in theories, fixing them and testing them to destruction all over again. We learn so little by being right in comparison to what we learn when we're wrong.

Re:Not trouble... (5, Insightful)

Zixaphir (845917) | about 4 years ago | (#32712780)

But this is the fun of science! Science would have no purpose if it weren't for the ferreting out of the glitches and flaws in theories, fixing them and testing them to destruction all over again. We learn so little by being right in comparison to what we learn when we're wrong.

Wow, if only this applied to programming.

Re:Not trouble... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713254)

But this is the fun of science! Science would have no purpose if it weren't for the ferreting out of the glitches and flaws in theories, fixing them and testing them to destruction all over again. We learn so little by being right in comparison to what we learn when we're wrong.

Wow, if only this applied to programming.

It does - you learn more by fixing a broken program than by "fixing" a working one :)

Re:Not trouble... (1, Insightful)

Zixaphir (845917) | about 4 years ago | (#32713544)

Yes, but the main problem with programming, especially FLOSS programming, is everyone wants to amp up the program with features while minimal time is spent bug testing and correcting flaws, as developers finish one feature and move onto the next. Obviously, where there's a budget for it, this gets done, but bugs tend to... go over looked, especially in projects that are hobby-based in nature, like many FLOSS programs.

Re:Not trouble... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713710)

It does. The difference is that he ment "we're wrong" in the sense of someone else and you ment "we're wrong" in the sense of yourself.
Now, imagine programming where you get to point out why everyone else is wrong.

Newton's laws would be a great example (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 4 years ago | (#32712804)

They are wrong on a universal scale. This has been proven, and indeed it is where things like relativity start to come in. We have measured things that go against the predictions that Newton's laws make. That would mean they've been falsified. ...

So why the hell do we still teach them?

Well because on the scale we normally work on, Newton's laws simply and accurately describe how things works. You can go out yourself and test them in any number of ways and you'll find that as accurate as you want to measure, they are dead on accurate. When dealing with the scale of things humans normally do, they are an excellent set of rules for calculations.

Thus more accurately put they aren't wrong, they are just a simplification that works within certain bounds. They do not fully describe motion and gravitation on every level, in every case. They break down for very large and very small scales. However they are an excellent simplification for anything less than, say, a planet in size and anything above the atomic level. That would include basically everything you are ever likely to work with.

So they are very much correct, all you have to do is put a couple constraints on their use.

Simplified models like that are wonderful too. Even if they don't explain everything, they allow for calculations to be done in an easy fashion on things we care about. Some day we may discover a truly complete law for motion, that covers all cases from the smallest to the largest. at all speeds, in all frames of reference and so on. There may be nothing left out. It also may be several pages of dense calculations. Instead of that, when dealing with a normal, human scale, we'll still use Newton's laws, something you can express in a couple characters and work out in your head if you are good. An exceedingly useful and accurate simplification.

A similar example would be the Ideal Gas law. When you look at it, it is clearly wrong. Reason is you plug in numbers for something like H2O at room temperature and the result is not what you actually get. It does not show it becoming a liquid. Yet again we use it. Why? Because so long as the substance you are talking about is a gas in the temperature and pressure range you are working at, the Ideal Gas law gives you a very easy, highly accurate, way to calculate things about it. It is a simplification, hence why it is called "Ideal Gas" instead of "Real Gas". That doesn't mean that it isn't accurate and useful within some constraints.

So I can see the same being true with relativity. While we have already found cases it doesn't explain (see quantum gravitation), that doesn't mean it isn't useful within certain constraints. As our knowledge progresses, we will know precisely what those are.

Re:Newton's laws would be a great example (4, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | about 4 years ago | (#32713108)

I wish I could find the URL now, but I remember reading once about relativity (don't remember now if it was special or general), the author showing how some of the classical mechanics formulas are basically the first few terms of Taylor Polynomials which represented the values given by relativity, so basically, as you said, they are accurate when sufficiently near 0, but the farther you move away from 0, the more the error accumulates without the 'missing' terms. Really wish I could find it now.

Found a source (5, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | about 4 years ago | (#32713166)

Found a pdf of calculus notes [northwestern.edu] on northwestern.edu which shows what I was talking about.

I think I had an astronomy prof that talked about (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 4 years ago | (#32713228)

this idea. That a theory is just a tool for understanding and predicting reality. As long as you know where and when you can apply this tool and you use it in those circumstances it's a useful thing. (IE a hammer is great when you just need to hammer in a nail and don't expect it to be some super tool that can cut wood, turn a screw, measure an angle, etc.)

Re:Newton's laws would be a great example (5, Interesting)

IICV (652597) | about 4 years ago | (#32713468)

Actually! I was looking this up at one point for some reason I forget, but:

You cannot explain the yellowish color of gold [wikipedia.org] * without relativity. If you just use classical chemistry, it should be silvery-white, just like silver. It's also the reason why mercury is one of two elements that are liquid at room temperature; relativistic forces screw with the electrons, making them bind more weakly. Although the reasons why these things happen do come from a level outside of your bounds (it has to do with electrons, which are smaller than atoms) the effects are things everyone takes for granted.

Gold would not be golden if it weren't for relativity! I just find that so amazing.

*It's also how you explain the yellowish color of cesium, but that's not something most people are familiar with.

Re:Newton's laws would be a great example (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 4 years ago | (#32713972)

"So why the hell do we still teach them?"

Because they are logic and they are an immense building of Human intelect.

If not by other things, Newton's work should be thought on the same grounds than Fidias or Michelangello.

Re:Not trouble... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713034)

What if the current law always is bound to be broken by some example/case at one point?

Like Newtonian Physics, maybe Eisteinian is going to be replaced by a new one, which in due time will then be replaced by another... this reminds me of a fractal pattern; this replacement may continue ad aeternum...

"The more I know, the more I know that I don't know".

Re:Not trouble... (3, Insightful)

raving griff (1157645) | about 4 years ago | (#32713306)

Well, just as we cannot say with certainty that a law that has not yet been unproven is correct, we also cannot say with certainty that a law that has not yet been unproven is incorrect. Assuming the universe operates on some form of natural law (that is, assuming that all events are not entirely random and arbitrary), then the laws of the universe are finite and therefore describable.

The issue is not that we cannot be right, because it is possible that we can find one that is right; the issue, rather, is that we have no way of irrevocably confirming a law. We may only watch the evidence increase while waiting on the possibility of an event that disproves it.

Re:Not trouble... (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | about 4 years ago | (#32712916)

If we take into account annihilation I'd be surprised of opposite results.

Re:Not trouble... (2, Interesting)

Avtuunaaja (1249076) | about 4 years ago | (#32713678)

Neutrinos are not particularly more common than antineutrinos. Both should annihilate in pretty much identical amounts.

Re:Not trouble... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713986)

We have known there are problems with the GENERAL theory of relativity, but I think CPT violation and now evidence this entails violation of Lorenz covariance is really first hint there is something wrong with special relativity. I'm astonished frankly. Unlike general relativity which has problems with quantum mechanics, relativistic quantum field theory, as name implies, work well with special relativity.

Relativity is just a model (4, Insightful)

onionman (975962) | about 4 years ago | (#32712642)

It's already widely known that Relativity is just a model... much like the rest of physics. It's extremely accurate and useful for dealing with many areas, but breaks down somewhat when dealing with very very small things. Hence the great desire to develop a more unified theory! So, the summary is a little bit on the sensationalist side of the street.

The research is very important, though!

Re:Relativity is just a model (2, Interesting)

quenda (644621) | about 4 years ago | (#32712714)

So there is nothing wrong with relativity, unless you find an internal inconsistency?
It is reality at fault, for failing to follow the more elegant model.

Re:Relativity is just a model (3, Insightful)

bertok (226922) | about 4 years ago | (#32712764)

It's already widely known that Relativity is just a model... much like the rest of physics. It's extremely accurate and useful for dealing with many areas, but breaks down somewhat when dealing with very very small things. Hence the great desire to develop a more unified theory! So, the summary is a little bit on the sensationalist side of the street.

The research is very important, though!

That's a gross misunderstanding of the problems of relativity.

"Just a model" is not what physicists seek. The aim is to seek laws of physics that are absolute, inviolable, and a complete description of space, time, and mass-energy. Some of our models are basically there, like the "conservation" laws, which are based on rigorous mathematics.

The problem with relativity isn't that it's "just a model", it's that it is explicitly known to be incomplete. It simply doesn't "extend" down to small scales. This was known by Einstein himself, he sought to complete his theory, but failed.

Re:Relativity is just a model (4, Insightful)

onionman (975962) | about 4 years ago | (#32712904)

It's already widely known that Relativity is just a model... much like the rest of physics. It's extremely accurate and useful for dealing with many areas, but breaks down somewhat when dealing with very very small things. Hence the great desire to develop a more unified theory! So, the summary is a little bit on the sensationalist side of the street.

The research is very important, though!

That's a gross misunderstanding of the problems of relativity.

"Just a model" is not what physicists seek. The aim is to seek laws of physics that are absolute, inviolable, and a complete description of space, time, and mass-energy. Some of our models are basically there, like the "conservation" laws, which are based on rigorous mathematics.

The problem with relativity isn't that it's "just a model", it's that it is explicitly known to be incomplete. It simply doesn't "extend" down to small scales. This was known by Einstein himself, he sought to complete his theory, but failed.

Sorry, but I'm a mathematician... so everything you physicists do is just a model to me. Ever since I realized (via Goedel) that there aren't even any complete and consistent theories for logic, I sort of figured that there would never be a complete and consistent theory for physics. (Let me know if you find one.) In the mean time, I'm still really impressed with the work physicists do! I really should finish working through Gravitation some day... that's cool stuff.

Re:Relativity is just a model (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713146)

Sorry, but I'm a mathematician... so everything you physicists do is just a model to me.

An instant link to xkcd [xkcd.com] is required here. I hate doing this (linking to xkcd), but you brought it on yourself :)

Re:Relativity is just a model (1)

bertok (226922) | about 4 years ago | (#32713636)

Sorry, but I'm a mathematician... so everything you physicists do is just a model to me.

An instant link to xkcd [xkcd.com] is required here. I hate doing this (linking to xkcd), but you brought it on yourself :)

Haha... exactly! The more we learn about physics, the more 'pure' our models will get, and the closer we get to stand to those elitist mathematicians. 8)

Re:Relativity is just a model (2, Informative)

localman (111171) | about 4 years ago | (#32713746)

The aim is to seek laws of physics that are absolute, inviolable, and a complete description of space, time, and mass-energy.

I may be stretching beyond my capacity here, but isn't that a pipe dream? Won't any laws of physics will be mathematical formulae? And I thought it was accepted that no significantly powerful mathematical system can be both complete and consistent. It seems to me that a physics laws would be subject to that same limitation. The search for ever finer models is wonderful, important, and really the basis of all human progress -- but at some point I accepted that we'll never get to the bottom. It's an infinite regress.

If I am misunderstanding the situation, I'd love to know how.

Cheers.

Re:Relativity is just a model (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713796)

Sorry, but I'm a mathematician... so everything you physicists do is just a model to me

Math exists in a vacuum, and most Math researchers attempt to force observations of real life to fit within their formulas, which is just plain wrong. Physics observes real life, and attempts to describe it (using Math).
Or in other words, pure Math is essentially worthless until it is applied to the real world... and when you do that, it's not Math it's Physics.

For example, take the commonly known Math equation 1+1=2. This appears to be correct to the Math student, but then the Physics student comes along and says "Umm, exactly HOW do you expect me to believe that 1 apple + 1 orange = 2 slashdot Trolls?". It's how the equation is applied that determines if it is correct or not.

So with all of that in mind, I would propose that it is really Math which is "just" a model, while Physics is an actual explanation.

Re:Relativity is just a model (2, Informative)

Bootsy Collins (549938) | about 4 years ago | (#32713358)

You need to be careful here. When you talk about relativity "not extending down to small scales," you're referring to General Relativity. Special relativity, OTOH, is a fundamental component of Quantum Field Theory.

Re:Relativity is just a model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713560)

like the "conservation" laws, which are based on rigorous mathematics

I hope you're not talking about Noether's Theorem. Because physical reality is the basis for physical laws, not "rigorous mathematics." The math just makes it simpler to express those laws.

Re:Relativity is just a model (1)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | about 4 years ago | (#32712922)

just a model

The day there's something else besides "just" a model is the day that qualifier will actually make sense. Never really understood what point people try to make with the "just" qualifier.

So basically... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32712646)

Let me try to find a lay-person analogy.

A chef theorized that there was a counter-part to bacon. We'll call it turkey bacon. We traditionally thought that Turkey Bacon was the direct opposite of Pig Bacon. Where Pig Bacon was delicious, Turkey Bacon was healthy. We decided to do some research on how Turkey bacon and pig bacon is received by the consumer. Recent taste test show that turkey bacon is not, in fact equally as healthy as pig bacon is tasty. This ruins the grand unified theorem of HTB (healthy tasty breakfast).

The only remaining explanation is there might, in fact, be a third type of bacon... i.e. a cow bacon or chicken bacon. If we discover this new type of bacon, it might completely revolutionize the Bacon Lettuce Tomato sandwich.

amirite?

Re:So basically... (3, Funny)

mog007 (677810) | about 4 years ago | (#32712666)

I believe your bacon analogy is far superior to the often used car analogy.

Re:So basically... (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 years ago | (#32713270)

The car analogy works as a reasonble approximation at vehicular scales but breaks down at the edible level.

Re:So basically... (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 4 years ago | (#32712668)

Pffffft. Antineutrinos have been dieting for bikini weather. Try the experiment again in the winter.

Re:So basically... (1)

wuzzle (114386) | about 4 years ago | (#32713774)

So you would expect different results in the southern hemisphere?

It's already winter down here, those antineutrinos should be delightfully plump...

Re:So basically... (3, Funny)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about 4 years ago | (#32712730)

Except pig bacon is healthy, and delicious. Contrary to USDA guidelines, saturated fat is good for you, and cereals and grains are bad for you. Bacon is, simply put, health food. You just need to avoid orange juice, muffins, or anything else that is going to raise your blood sugar levels and therefore your insulin levels.

Now, admittedly, there are some types of bacon that are dipped in chocolate, or sugar, or pancake batter, or some other evil condiment, but on its own, bacon is a perfectly healthy food.

Re:So basically... (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 years ago | (#32712774)

Snouty the breakfast pig is fine, its the chemical preservatives thats seems to catch up with people.

Re:So basically... (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about 4 years ago | (#32712834)

Well, on the scale of danger to one's health, I'd put a tall glass of orange juice at 9.5 on the F-up-Your-Health-O-Meter, and the nitrates and nitrites in bacon at about 0.75. The preservatives might kill me when I'm 150 years old, but those sugars and starches in bran muffins will kill you before you reach 70.

Re:So basically... (1)

Loomismeister (1589505) | about 4 years ago | (#32713036)

I eat muffins, and I probably will not die before I'm 70

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713324)

No dude, seriously, muffins and orange juice will kill you. You should stave off your cravings by eating bacon three meals a day, everyday for the rest of you life. hsthompson69 really knows what is up. The evil government that makes up the nutrition guidelines, put fluorides and chlorides in the water, is doing this to try to make people die faster. Hsthompson69 knows so much about nutrition. So smart. So very, very smart. A hero. The greatest hero of all time. OF ALL TIME! Thank you Hstompson69, for introducing us to the truth! Hstompson69 has an F-up-Your-Health-O-Meter and knows how to use it.

Actually hstompson69, you're a fucking idiot. Congratulations.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713202)

Citation needed... Please...

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713242)

Except pig bacon is healthy, and delicious. Contrary to USDA guidelines, saturated fat is good for you, and cereals and grains are bad for you. Bacon is, simply put, health food. You just need to avoid orange juice, muffins, or anything else that is going to raise your blood sugar levels and therefore your insulin levels.

Congratulations - you must be the stupidest person on /.

Re:So basically... (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 4 years ago | (#32712810)

I'm still confused, but now I'm hungry...

Re:So basically... (1)

B1oodAnge1 (1485419) | about 4 years ago | (#32713536)

Oh lord, O.o me too!

Re:So basically... (1)

Snad (719864) | about 4 years ago | (#32712860)

The only remaining explanation is there might, in fact, be a third type of bacon... i.e. a cow bacon or chicken bacon.

Chicken bacon's been around for years [tegel.co.nz] .

The search continues for cow bacon, however.

Re:So basically... (1)

kasimbaba (1813770) | about 4 years ago | (#32713246)

I had beef bacon for breakfast last week.

Re:So basically... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 years ago | (#32713298)

The search continues for cow bacon, however.

Pastrami.

Re:So basically... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 4 years ago | (#32712908)

Congrats on the creation of a new Slashdot meme!

Re:So basically... (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 4 years ago | (#32713200)

Having tried Beef Bacon (the joys of eating breakfast in a Halal restaurant), there is probably a third factor in your equilibrium, as I can verify that it is neither tasty nor healthy.

How does this violate special relativity? (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 4 years ago | (#32712652)

Ok. I read the article and I'm still confused. I understand why different mass for particles and their antiparticles would violate CPT, which is obviously major. But I don't see how this violates special relativity. Why does this violate special relativity?

CPT = Lorentz Invariance (5, Informative)

SciBrad (1119589) | about 4 years ago | (#32712756)

If I recall correctly CPT presumes the correctness of Lorentz invariance. And Lorentz invariance is one of the bedrocks of relativity. In other words CPT comes about from assuming your theory is Lorentz invariant and if CPT were violated it would mean Lorentz invariance is violated as well (check out Physical Review Letters 89: 231602 by Greenberg, O.W, which shows CPT violation implies Lorentz violation).

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32712906)

Or alternatively just read this wikipedia section [wikipedia.org] .

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (3, Funny)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | about 4 years ago | (#32712934)

Drunk-modding again? =p
Someone please fix this to informative or insightful. Someone on /. actually cited a PRL ref correctly to prove his point - will wonders never cease? I think I'm gonna cry.

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (5, Funny)

JSBiff (87824) | about 4 years ago | (#32713012)

Well, you see, the modder had to preserve Slashdot CRM ( Correctness, Relevance, Modding) Invariance which states that Comment Correctness, Comment Relevance, and Comment Modding, when assigned a boolean value (e.g if the Comment is factually correct, it is assigned the value of 1, else 0) of 1 or 0, then multiplied together, must never be 1. So, since we had a correct, relevant comment, the modding must be incorrect to preserve the Invariance.

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (3, Interesting)

0111 1110 (518466) | about 4 years ago | (#32713074)

A CPT violation [wikipedia.org] has major implications for the special theory apparently due to what SciBrad said. Is Lorentz invariance similar to Lorentz Covariance? [wikipedia.org] To get closer to why this is relevant to the special theory take a look at the wiki for Lorentz transformation [wikipedia.org] .

The Lorentz transformation was originally the result of attempts by Lorentz and others to explain observed properties of light propagating in what was presumed to be the luminiferous aether; Albert Einstein later reinterpreted the transformation to be a statement about the nature of both space and time, and he independently re-derived the transformation from his postulates of special relativity.

Now, IANATP, but this seems core. We are getting back to the Michelson-Morley experiment [wikipedia.org] for god's sake. I always figured the general theory would be the first to show cracks since it has a lot less solid experimental data behind it. But everyone is always going on about how the special theory is one of the most proven theories in all of science. So this could be big. Very big. Of course, it's a lot easier to just massage the data a little or start positing magical new forces to explain the discrepancy:

To save CPT and Einstein's theory -- assuming they need saving -- Ann Nelson of the University of Washington in Seattle favors the introduction of a new force. [wikipedia.org] "It's a less radical idea" than throwing out Einstein's theory of special relativity, she notes. The force Nelson envisions would endow matter with a new kind of charge that would allow it to interact differently with neutrinos than antineutrinos.

It's a lot easier than tossing out your beloved theory or trying to build it up from scratch based on solid scientific evidence to support each individual tenet. I think the latter is what needs to be done, but it will take time. We need to re-figure out what we know absolutely. IOW, what aspects of special relativity are not contradicted by a CPT violation? If the Lorentz Transformation is called into question then so is science fiction's much beloved time dilation [wikipedia.org] And what about the Twins Paradox? [wikipedia.org] Yikes. This could be big. It is exciting when a major (and the special theory is about as major as it gets) scientific theory is contradicted, even in part because it means we could be on the verge of a major discovery. A real discovery based on experiment as opposed to flights of fancy, the angels dancing on pin heads inside the minds of theoretical physicists and then rationalized ex post facto quantitatively with systems of equations. Let us not forget the lesson of Ptolemy's cycles and epicycles. They predicted the motion of the planets better than Copernicus's theory, at least initially. But if Einstein is Ptolemy, who is Copernicus?

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (4, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 4 years ago | (#32713186)

It's a lot easier than tossing out your beloved theory or trying to build it up from scratch based on solid scientific evidence to support each individual tenet. I think the latter is what needs to be done, but it will take time. We need to re-figure out what we know absolutely. IOW, what aspects of special relativity are not contradicted by a CPT violation? If the Lorentz Transformation is called into question then so is science fiction's much beloved time dilation And what about the Twins Paradox? Yikes.

Time dilation has been observed in a number of different contexts, most famously by putting atomic clocks on airplanes and measuring the resulting slow down as they fly around the globe. Even if SR fails, time dilation is still an experimentally verified fact.

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (4, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 years ago | (#32713942)

"Time dilation has been observed in a number of different contexts"

Indeed! Without taking time dialation into account GPS locations would systematically drift about 10km/day.

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | about 4 years ago | (#32713968)

Even if SR fails, time dilation is still an experimentally verified fact.

Ah. Good point. Forgot about that. But that's exactly what I mean. Even if we can no longer trust the complete special theory, we can at least trust the parts that have been independently verified by experiment.

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (3, Informative)

Parlyne (884090) | about 4 years ago | (#32713522)

Lorentz covariance means that a quantity changes in a way given by the appropriate Lorentz transformations under boosts or rotations. Lorentz invariance means that a quantity is unchanged under boosts or rotations. So, Lorentz invariance is a subset of Lorentz covariance which applies to frame-independent quantities like proper time, electric charge, or rest mass. As for explaining these results, I think you'll find that a large majority of particle physicists (both theorists and experimentalists) will tell you that a 95% confidence level is actually very low. It means that a value (here something characterizing the difference between neutrinos and antineutrinos) differs from 0 by only twice the uncertainty in its value. In particle physics, its usually a bad idea to trust a result until there's enough data that deviation from 0 is at least five times the uncertainty in its value. (In fact, there have been cases where effects that had deviations from 0 of about 4.5 times their uncertainty that still turned out only to be statistical flukes.) But, those uncertainties tend to decrease in such a way that the uncertainty multiplied by the square root of the number of data points you're calculating the value from stays constant. So, this is rather slow to attain. If, however, with a great deal more data, this effect still seems to be there, there are still some ways out. Essentially, you have to posit that somewhere between the production of the neutrino and its detection there's something unaccounted for which treats neutrinos and antineutrinos differently. Maybe there have been details overlooked about how propagating through matter (rather than antimatter) affects neutrinos (although this seems unlikely). There's also a paper I've run across recently which suggests that the standard treatment of neutrino oscillations misses a small dependence on the details of the physics by which the neutrinos are detected. (Personally, I'm waiting for people who know quite a bit more about quantum measurement and about neutrino oscillations to weigh in on this one.) It's only once everything of this sort has been ruled out that we face the prospect of actual, honest-to-goodness CPT violation.

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713646)

You specialize in a being a spamming asshole.

Re:CPT = Lorentz Invariance (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 4 years ago | (#32713598)

If I recall correctly CPT presumes the correctness of Lorentz invariance. And Lorentz invariance is one of the bedrocks of relativity. In other words CPT comes about from assuming your theory is Lorentz invariant and if CPT were violated it would mean Lorentz invariance is violated as well (check out Physical Review Letters 89: 231602 by Greenberg, O.W, which shows CPT violation implies Lorentz violation).

THANK YOU! Why couldn't they have just said that in the article? Sheesh...

Re:How does this violate special relativity? (2, Funny)

Old Wolf (56093) | about 4 years ago | (#32713364)

From that great font of modern knowledge, "the CPT theorem states that any Lorentz invariant local quantum field theory with a Hermitian Hamiltonian must have CPT symmetry.".

I guess people are more willing to give up Lorentz invariance,than QFTs requiring their Hamiltonians to be unitary..

Re:How does this violate special relativity? (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 4 years ago | (#32713384)

One thing I've heard is that antiparticles are mathematically equivalent to normal particles moving backward through time if you work the equations all through. If you have an antineutrino that has a different mass than the corresponding ordinary neutrino that means this no longer works. Things shouldn't change mass if you have them travel in the opposite direction through time.

It seems to me that general and special relativity, which deal with the relationship between mass, energy, space and time, wouldn't work very well if some base invariant like that was violated. I don't know enough physics or math to work through all the details though, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

statistics fail (3, Informative)

gumbi west (610122) | about 4 years ago | (#32712656)

From the article, "there’s a 5 percent probability that the two types of particles weigh the same." Except, that would require a Bayesian statistical analysis and a prior. The thing to remember about confidence intervals is that the interval is random while the true value is stationary, so if you want to make statements about randomness, you have to make statements about the interval. Example, "An experiment conducted this way would find more muon antineutrinos than muon neutrinos disappear 95% of the time."

And they just had a big article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32712990)

about EXACTLY that sort of statistics abuse a couple of months back.

Prior? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713026)

""there's a 5 percent probability that the two types of particles weigh the same." Except, that would require a Bayesian statistical analysis and a prior. "

Hallowed are the Ori

Re:statistics fail (4, Informative)

Parlyne (884090) | about 4 years ago | (#32713212)

The correct statistical statement here would be that an experiment like this one would show a splitting between particle and anti-particle properties at least this large 5% of the time even if there were no difference at all.

Re:statistics fail (1)

gumbi west (610122) | about 4 years ago | (#32713226)

That's the p-value interpretation, I gave the confidence interval interpretation. Both are valid.

Re:statistics fail (2, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 4 years ago | (#32713322)

You gave a misleading confidence interval interpretation. Your statement disregards the magnitude of the observed effect.

It's likely wrong too - the correct statement is almost certainly something more like "An experiment conducted this way would find more muon antineutrinos than muon neutrinos disappear X% of the time, more muon neutrinos than antineutrinos disappear Y% of the time and the observed numbers are equal Z% of the time," where X+Y+Z = 100, X = Y and X,Y >> Z. X = 95 is not a solution to that system.

Re:statistics fail (2, Interesting)

Parlyne (884090) | about 4 years ago | (#32713346)

The measured effect here is asymmetric between neutrinos and antineutrinos. So, X does not equal Y in a correct confidence interval interpretation.

Re:statistics fail (1)

Parlyne (884090) | about 4 years ago | (#32713328)

That's the p-value interpretation, I gave the confidence interval interpretation. Both are valid.

I would agree with this statement if you append your original statement to say "An experiment conducted this way would find more muon antineutrinos than muon neutrinos disappear 95% of the time, if our experimentally derived parameters are exactly correct." If no such assumption is made, you can't make any statement about how often an experiment would find a discrepancy. If, for example, there were no actual discrepancy, the experiment would only find one 5% of the time. In other words, while the true value is stationary, both the experimentally derived value and the confidence interval are not.

There is already trouble (5, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about 4 years ago | (#32712678)

Here are three things I see to be a consistent form of trouble. First, obviously as we exist, there was not an equal amount of matter and anti-matter created at the big bang. Furthermore most kludges that have been devised to explain this discrepancy have been less that stellar and have tended not to match real data very well, unless they have been tweaked to arbitrarily match real data.

Second, we think there are infinities in the universe, and infinities tend to be catastrophic in the real world. In fact, classical mechanics met it's catastrophe in an infinity. It is unlikely that all the infinities that are created between quantum mechanics at the atomic scale and relativity at the universal scale can simply be normalized out, and black holes are not going anywhere until general relativity is fixed.

Then of course we havethe hacked dark matter née aether to make everything work out and match the theory. In light of these three things, any new data, especially new data the violates current theories, are not problem buy jewels. Jewels that will help us refine, and supposed depose, old theories. It is why we still train scientists, and laught at those that think the world is so boring that there is nothing left to be discovered. Fortunately for those that are curious, nature has new surprises every day. I would hate to live in a world where the special theory of relativity was gospel. Such a world would so boring that I would probably be thinking not of what wonders will come, but how life can be ended.

Especially since I squandered my youth solving those god forsaken equations.

Re:There is already trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32712824)

First, we don't obviously exist. For all I know, I am a figment of my imagination, as are you. Evil demons, brains in vats, etc. We assume we exist.

Second, who says there are infinities in the universe? In the actual physical universe that is. I don't.

Third, what?

In conclusion, please reference your claims.

Anyway, I did more philosophy than physics, so pay no attention to me.

Re:There is already trouble (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713216)

First, we don't obviously exist. For all I know, I am a figment of my imagination, as are you. Evil demons, brains in vats, etc. We assume we exist.

Cogito, ergo sum. You need to define existence, because you seem to take it as "as I perceive myself right now" whereas most philosophy takes it as "I'm conscious and experience things". Existence, from a philosophical standpoint, isn't really that hard to prove. Explaining it is the hard part.

Second, who says there are infinities in the universe? In the actual physical universe that is. I don't.

Our current theories say there are. And they're obviously flawed, so you're welcome to improve upon them. You'd need to back up your assertions though, which doesn't seem like your strong suit.

Third, what?

Exactly what I was thinking when I read your post. Please, please revisit the philosophical works you read, and read them with an eye to what their authors actually meant, and not what you wanted them to mean.

Re:There is already trouble (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 years ago | (#32712926)

there was not an equal amount of matter and anti-matter created at the big bang

How do we know? Have we counted the atoms? Maybe the reckoning is still in the future. We know the universe has large scale structure, we can see it in the CMB. Maybe the antimatter is just not close to us.

Re:There is already trouble (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#32713048)

> How do we know?

We exist.

> Maybe the antimatter is just not close to us.

Such segregation would be even harder to explain.

Re:There is already trouble (2, Insightful)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 4 years ago | (#32713728)

If the universe contained areas of matter and areas of antimatter, you would see annihilation radiation at the boundaries. I think (not completely sure) that would be detectable for a wide variety of different sized regions. As another poster points out, it would be difficult to explain such a separation without introducing new physics.

Re:There is already trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713960)

there was not an equal amount of matter and anti-matter created at the big bang

How do we know? Have we counted the atoms? Maybe the reckoning is still in the future. We know the universe has large scale structure, we can see it in the CMB. Maybe the antimatter is just not close to us.

I would say that within the first brief moments of the universe, they would have indeed been in very close proximity.

The point the parent was making, is that if matter and antimatter were really "equal" as described, then at the instant the big bang occurred the universe would simply cancel itself out and never would have existed. The fact that it has made it past that point is enough evidence to deduce that either those forces don't really cancel out perfectly, or that they were not "created" in a balanced quantity.

And we don't really need to count either, we can use a simple formula. Assuming that matter & antimatter cancel each other perfectly, then we have the equation "X + (-X) = 0", which would hold true for all values of X. The other possibility is that the equation is wrong, and might really be "X + (-X) = Y" where Y is currently assumed to be Zero. The experiment seems to indicate that Y is not actually Zero, which means that either the assumption is wrong, or there is a problem either with the observed data, or how the math was applied. (or a combination of all three).

Re:There is already trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713136)

First, obviously as we exist, there was not an equal amount of matter and anti-matter created at the big bang. Furthermore most kludges that have been devised to explain this discrepancy have been less that stellar and have tended not to match real data very well, unless they have been tweaked to arbitrarily match real data.

Fermilab says they found a near-1% asymmetry from proton/antiproton collisions:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/05/21/in-the-universes-decisive-battle-why-did-matter-prevail-over-antimatter/

(somehow I think I'd actually seen a story about it on /. initially, but I [ couldn't | was to lazy to ] find it)

Re:There is already trouble (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | about 4 years ago | (#32713142)

Here are three things I see to be a consistent form of trouble. First, obviously as we exist, there was not an equal amount of matter and anti-matter created at the big bang.

Well I can't speak for everyone, but I happen to know for an absolute fact that I don't exist.

Re:There is already trouble (1)

Freebirth Toad (1197193) | about 4 years ago | (#32713230)

First, obviously as we exist, there was not an equal amount of matter and anti-matter created at the big bang. Furthermore most kludges that have been devised to explain this discrepancy have been less than stellar ....

Without the kludge, the theory predicts a universe devoid of stars, which is quite a bit less stellar.

Re:There is already trouble (1)

Parlyne (884090) | about 4 years ago | (#32713238)

For the universe to have a net baryon number requires CP to be a bad symmetry. CPT can still be conserved, provided that the violation in T compensates that in CP. But, if CPT is violated, so is Lorentz symmetry, which is the underpinning of special relativity. To this point, we've never seen any inconsistency between quantum physics and special relativity. It's only when you let spacetime itself be dynamic that there are mathematical problems. That is, the known inconsistency is between quantum physics and General Relativity. Special Relativity is one of the underpinning assumptions of all of our understanding of particle physics. Evidence that it is wrong would be a VERY BIG DEAL; but, would have very little to do with the problems of quantum gravity.

Re:There is already trouble (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 4 years ago | (#32713318)

Then of course we havethe hacked dark matter née aether to make everything work out and match the theory.

Dark matter is no more a "hack" than expolanets around stars with slight wobbles are "hacks". Omigosh, you need a planet there to "match the theory"! Or is the planet a prediction based on observation and an already well-working theory? Yes, that's what it is. We use the theory of gravity to infer the existence of masses.

People have tried to modify the theory to avoid having to infer mass in places where we couldn't directly see any. It nearly worked for a while, until further evidence showed that you couldn't just adjust the magnitude of gravitational attraction and make things work (like MOND), you had to have gravity pointing in completely different directions, for different cases! We've come as close as we probably can to directly seeing the dark matter (if it's WIMPs) via gravitational lensing.

In any event, you're absolutely right that new data that shows weaknesses of existing theory is very exciting, because that's where new physics is discovered.

I'm just sayin', this is basically what's already happened to dark-matter-free theories.

So... (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#32712752)

Should I be preparing for Unforeseen Consequences?

Perhaps it isn't Einstein's fault ... (3, Interesting)

bkeahl (1688280) | about 4 years ago | (#32712758)

There's always the possibility that this is just a variation of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle at work. Maybe it all works, we're just gumming it all up by trying to be "God".

No, I'm not saying we shouldn't try, just that we may discover we're the variable.

I remember going crazy troubleshooting a circuit with an O-Scope and the freakin' thing would more-or-less work while I was monitoring the signals. Turns out it was a capacitance issue and the probe was introducing enough capacitance to make it work, but not consistently and seemingly 'random' - but really depending upon the relative position of the scope probe and how close to the tip I was choking it when measuring. Ever since then I've had a real appreciation for Werner :).

Re:Perhaps it isn't Einstein's fault ... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32712800)

Or it could always be some error in the experiment. While not particularly cogent, I do recall one time in biology doing a bacterial culture and ending up with precisely zero colonies of bacteria the next day. It's possible to happen, but it's kind of tough to keep it that sterile by accident.

It could also just be a random chance. A 1/20 chance isn't really that far fetched, I'd be somewhat more concerned if they had it down to a 1/1 000 000 chance that something was up.

Re:Perhaps it isn't Einstein's fault ... (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 4 years ago | (#32713182)

This is like big boy electronics rookie mistake 101. Definitely not college electronics 101, as the latter is a rather useless exposition of the former. Read up on some Jim Williams's application notes from Linear Technology [linear.com] -- it's all there. That's how you do experiments in electronics. Pretty darn carefully, checking yourself at every step. JW's app notes in their entirety a required reading for anyone striving to be good at electronics.

I call BS (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | about 4 years ago | (#32712790)

Someone either dropped those muon antineutrinos, broke them, and then swept the whole thing under the rug, or they sold them for chocolate frogs. "They were never there!" Yeah, right.

Really? (1)

b4upoo (166390) | about 4 years ago | (#32712796)

I would like to hope that these anti particles really are understood but my guess is that there is so much that is unknown that any conclusions are really shaky. Perhaps they just relocate to the absolute elsewhere without leaving a clue in their wake.

CPT Symmetry (4, Informative)

DrJimbo (594231) | about 4 years ago | (#32712960)

The fine article said:

If the interactions of particles are thought of as a movie, CPT symmetry requires that whatever physics occurs during the show must be the same whether the film is run forward or backward (time), viewed through a mirror (parity) and repopulated with each particle being replaced by an antiparticle (charge).

This is unclear at best. CPT symmetry says that when the film is run backward AND seen through a mirror AND all particles are replaced with the anti-particles (and vice versa) then the physics should be the same.

If you change just one, for example by running the film backward but without the mirror or the the particle exchange, or if you change two, for example, running the film backward and with the mirror but no particle exchange, then the physics will change.

Re:CPT Symmetry (2, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 4 years ago | (#32713410)

May change. A good amount of physics respects some or all of the subsymmetries as well.

Cloaking device malfunction?! (5, Funny)

SOOPRcow (1279010) | about 4 years ago | (#32712992)

I think we need to reroute power through the main deflector dish to correctly mask the neutrino particle dispersion.

Re:Cloaking device malfunction?! (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 4 years ago | (#32713126)

No need for extra power to the dish, just reverse the polarity for a while. That should balance out the neutrino count they are observing.

Neutrino Oscillations (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713206)

For those unfamiliar, here's a (somewhat crude) explanation of neutrino oscillations.

The reason neutrinos oscillate is because their mass eigenstates are different from the flavor eigenstates. Essentially, a reaction will produce a particle with flavor F1, F2, or F3 being fixed depending on the reaction, but the particle may have mass M1, M2, or M3, which is (probably) randomly chosen. However, the particle then remains at M1, M2, or M3 and oscillates between the flavor eigenstates.

I don't know what reactions are used to produce the neutrinos and their antiparticles at MINOS (probably just pion decay), but it seems possible to me that the reactions may favor different mass eigenstates for antineutrinos than for neutrinos (particularly in light of CP violation, which causes K-meson anti-K oscillations to behave in some ways I find conspicuously similar).

I am of the school of thought that a "new" force is at work, likely a peculiar manifestation of the electroweak force.

I love articles like this... (2, Interesting)

Schnoogs (1087081) | about 4 years ago | (#32713222)

because it exposes the fact that Slashdot members love to comment on articles no matter how little they understand them. Most of the comments are hilarious...basically nonsense disguised as insight because if you can comment on advanced particle physics then clearly you understand it and therefore clearly you are smart! LOL!

All shagged out. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 4 years ago | (#32713512)

...about 37 percent of muon antineutrinos disappeared -- presumably morphing into one of the other neutrino types -- compared with just 19 percent of muon neutrinos.

No. They're just resting.

I wonder... (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 4 years ago | (#32713530)

to the Soudan Underground Laboratory in Minnesota

Does that mean that there's also a Minnesouta Underground Laboratory in Sudan?

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713944)

No, it means that the Minnesota Laboratory is so deep buried underground that it's actually closer to Sudan than to any other country [citation needed].

gravity and string theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713682)

string theorists say that we need, i think, 10 or 11 dimensions to get the math to work. could gravity be caused by everything expanding at a relative rate on one or a few of those extra dimensions that we don't see but feel?

2012 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32713804)

This is not surprising. The neutrinos have begun mutating by the extreme solar wind, as we are closing to 2012...
hope someone is preparing the ark...

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