Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scientist Who Oversaw OPERA's Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Study Resigns

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the don't-shoot-the-messenger dept.

Science 186

New submitter Big Hairy Ian writes with this news from the BBC: "The head of an experiment that appeared to show subatomic particles traveling faster than the speed of light has resigned from his post. Prof Antonio Ereditato oversaw results that appeared to challenge Einstein's theory that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light. Reports said some members of his group, called OPERA, had wanted him to resign. Earlier in March, a repeat experiment found that the particles, known as neutrinos, did not exceed light speed."

cancel ×

186 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

That seems weird to me (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#39524393)

Part of scientific endeavor is getting it wrong, and testing again to make sure. It seems like the mistakes that happened were minor, technical, and easy to miss. It would be a very different manner if the problems had been from operational carelessness or intentional fabrication, but I can't actually see any wrongdoing here.

Re:That seems weird to me (5, Interesting)

calmond (1284812) | about 2 years ago | (#39524433)

I fully agree. In fact, when this first happened, I remember the team saying they were sure they had missed something and wanted help figuring out what they had missed. Seemed to me that they were using the scientific method exactly as it should be used. All I can figure is that there were politics or other internal pressures.

Re:That seems weird to me (3, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#39524499)

That is my guess. Scientifically they behaved fine, but the PR in the mainstream press might have been a bit uncomfortable.

Re:That seems weird to me (3, Insightful)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#39524575)

didn't the PR generate TREMENDOUS interest in the on goings...

The members of the press should resign (5, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 years ago | (#39525007)

That is my guess. Scientifically they behaved fine, but the PR in the mainstream press might have been a bit uncomfortable.

The members of the mainstream press who blew things out of proportion and dumbed down the story so much and failed to emphasize that the real scientists were saying "we must have made a mistake" should resign.

The real scientist who sees something odd and shows it to colleagues to help him/her figure out what went wrong should not be punished when it turns out to be due to some basic mistake. Something like "I have odd data but I can't figure out what I did wrong" was the start of many scientific discoveries.

Creating an environment where scientists are reluctant to share odd results and get help finding mistakes will impede the progress of science.

However creating an environment where sensationalist journalists, or scientifically illiterate journalists who write articles regarding advanced scientific topics, are reluctant to publish their writing might be a good thing. Of course I might have made a mistake in my logic and I hope my slashdot colleagues can help me see my error. :-)

Re:The members of the press should resign (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525523)

I'm sorry but all I read from your post is:

The.. mainstream media,... who write articles regarding advanced scientific topics,... [are] a good thing.

Re:The members of the press should resign (4, Insightful)

chichilalescu (1647065) | about 2 years ago | (#39525559)

you did make a mistake... for some reason, you assume that society will choose to help the progress of science rather than continue to be "entertained" with sensationalistic journalism.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

XCDBFPL (846367) | about 2 years ago | (#39525421)

What you guys are missing is that the mainstream press reported on this the day before the findings were announced. Only neutrinos going through rock could get to these reporters before it actually happened!

Re:That seems weird to me (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524605)

Having been involved with a controversial bit of particle physics, I'm not surprised at this. I'd wager that Ereditato resigned because of something OTHER than his group simply getting the science wrong. I'm not involved with the result in any way, but here's my guess: 1) fascinating apparent result was found, 2) part of collaboration said: hold on there, let's make sure we get his right, others (possibly influenced by funding/political pressures) felt that they should push ahead. If Ereditato was part of the "push ahead" group and there was any whiff of politics driving his decision then I can well imagine him being forced to resign. At the end of the day, as a particle physicist it's incredibly hard and expensive for someone to duplicate your work -- to escape with your soul intact you have to be extremely self-disciplined and conscientious.

Re:That seems weird to me (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#39524751)

Even so, no harm was done.

I reckon he has BO and this was just an excuse, to be honest.

Re:That seems weird to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524895)

I reckon he has BO

So deodorant still hasn't made its way to Italy yet?

Re:That seems weird to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525395)

Could be, BO, could be personality conflicts, could be politics. Can't really say, no harm was done unless you know the collaboration wasn't destroyed in the process. If the person stepping into leadership possesses strong technical chops AND a strong ability to unite people then dollars to donuts the removal of Ereditato was done to salvage the collaboration. Early in the career this can really hurt.

FWIW, I won lunch over this -- coworker came to me with the "news" and I immediately said, 'bet you lunch it doesn't stand six months'....

Re:That seems weird to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525399)

...or his secret love of pecorino casu marzu was outed.

Re:That seems weird to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525379)

I'm glad you weighed in, since there can't be a lot of people here who have actually seen situations like this play out, from the inside.

As a casual observer that doesn't understand how these things usually go, I simply assumed there was something else going on here. I have to imagine that simply publishing unexpected results (with appropriate context) wouldn't normally be something you're forced to resign over.

Politics, or pushing hard to do something that's potentially damaging to a group's reputation makes a lot more sense.

I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (2, Interesting)

Pausanias (681077) | about 2 years ago | (#39524699)

A few weeks ago I was moderated -1 flaimbait on Slashdot because I dared say that the scientists were irresponsible in going to press with this news. Everyone thought I was being a jerk because wow, isn't this a great demonstration of the way the scientific process is going to work and didn't we all learn about science in this fiasco.

Guess what, yes, maybe for non-scientists this is "how the scientific method works," but internally, among scientists, we are supposed to do many levels vetting before we go public like this with a result. The press loves any news story that claims Einstein was wrong, and so it's easy to get caught in the publicity and make a big deal of something that should be scrutinized thoroughly before being exposed.

This was not "the scientific method at work." The scientific method at work is that when you find something that contradicts a successful 100-year-old theory, you sit down a few years and think about it before going public with it. Otherwise it costs you your fucking reputation as a scientists, which can end your career.

Re:I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (4, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 2 years ago | (#39524833)

I still think you were being a jerk. The group published a request for others to find out what went wrong and the media had a feeding frenzy. The scientists did nothing wrong.

Re:I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#39524863)

I disagree, science works best when all experimental results are shared. One of the biggest problems in modern science is that groups rarely publish negative results thus necessitating that other groups working on the same problem will inevitably try the same failed experiments. Publishing anomalous results and asking for others to critique your work shouldn't tarnish anyone's reputation, only falsifying data or repeatedly pressing dis-proven results should do that.

Re:I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525499)

You're right, it shouldn't. But that doesn't seem to be the space that we operate in now. Things are getting a bit hyper-political and too much "zero tolerance" in many areas. Any non-orthodox news could reflect badly on someone's prestige (ego), or more importantly, on funding.

Academia/research is as bitchy and socially cannibalistic as any clique, except maybe more passive-aggressive about it.

Re:I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (4, Interesting)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | about 2 years ago | (#39525595)

I totally agree. It has been my own experience, that since people only publish successful experiments, all the what ifs that came before and failed never see the light of day, condemning innumerable researchers to repeat the same dead end experiments. In those failures might also be the seed of someone else's idea. I think there shoudl be a journal dedicated to these failures. "The journal of failed experiments" or something. It would be an awesome source of info. As long as the failures are well documented.

Re:I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 2 years ago | (#39524865)

You were probably down modded for not knowing the full story. Or perhaps you had a pretentious tone. In any case you can always appeal it if you feel there was abuse.

In regards to your other points, this information was leaked. What did you expect them to do once a can of worms is opened?

Re:I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524909)

This. A thousand times this. If the team "knew" they messed something up and this d-bag went public with results that the team were clearly in disagreement about then the guy overseeing the project deciding to go public is just wandering around with stars/dollar sigs in his eyes.

Re:I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525201)

Especially when the result doesn't showcase this wonderful (and, frankly, mythical) scientific method that people on Slashdot seem to know so much about but instead makes the team look like a pack of cack-handed incompetents. That result shouldn't have been published when it was - I get the impression it was forced through, over the objections of people on the team. The actual ideal - in the "scientific method" for whatever the fuck that's meant to mean on these boards - would have been for them to rerun the experiments when the LHC fired up again, and only *then* start talking about it. But no, they (most likely he) wanted a blaze of publicity, so they released work that was clearly going to be hyped by the press - EINSTEIN IS WRONG - and then made an extremely well qualified and respected team of physicists look like a back of bumbling morons who couldn't plug in a cable.

No, I'm not too surprised either, and in deference of the fact that people I work with work with the LHC, I'm posting this AC.

Re:I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (1)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | about 2 years ago | (#39525593)

Applying your logic to the justice system, it means we should never have the right the appeal because it makes the judicial process look like it's run by mistake-making, glory-seeking, chip-shouldering humans. Admitting that would be false humility because it would mean society will plunge into chaos overnight.

Re:I don't want to say "I told you so," but .... (2)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | about 2 years ago | (#39525487)

This is ridiculous. Science is already under attack, most recently with the whole Climategate non-scandal. Think strategically. How would the public REALLY react if the scientists sat on results and it was revealed by a leak that they may have had an unexpected result? To the public, especially the American public, that would be a strong example that scientists withhold information, and worse, covering up results that don't agree with Established Doctrine. Sorry to have to break this to you, but this is how the anti-intellectual anti-elitist public thinks already. This is much bigger than someone's fucking reputation (which most of us agree are intact, even for the guy who resigned) and career. Your shortsightedness is stupid. Like it or not, science needs to be seen to handle its own messes.

Re:That seems weird to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524827)

In times of trouble, you can always blame the italian guy - they sink ships, experiments and stuff.

Re:That seems weird to me (2, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39525161)

>>>All I can figure is that there were politics or other internal pressures.

ALL science is like this.
That's why it's good to question the results, rather than just accept them.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

mofolotopo (458966) | about 2 years ago | (#39524477)

I think you meant to say "it would be a very different matter". You should probably resign.

Re:That seems weird to me (4, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#39524541)

I did. I will tender my Slashdot resignation immediately. The editors should get to it in 5-10 years.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#39524683)

I did. I will tender my Slashdot resignation immediately. The editors should get to it in 5-10 years.

If you are looking for particles which travel faster than light, you should be researching Kingons. When Elizabeth's father, Geoge VI died in Norfolk, despite being in a treehouse in Kenya, she became queen faster than even light could travel.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#39524869)

Only because it didn't collide with a republicon, which would obliterate it and create a revolution.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#39525037)

Geoge VI died in Norfolk, despite being in a treehouse in Kenya,

Screw superluminal neutrinos. We've uncovered evidence that at least for a brief moment, the entirety of Norfolk County [wikipedia.org] was contained in a tree house in Kenya on or about mid-August 1947.

Amazing. We need to get this published IMMEDIATELY.

Re:That seems weird to me (2)

hort_wort (1401963) | about 2 years ago | (#39524567)

He may have had his mind set on being in every future textbook. It's hard to go back to your job that reminds you of lost dreams like that. It's probably more shame and disappointment than guilt. :(

Re:That seems weird to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524589)

Part of scientific endeavor is getting it wrong, and testing again to make sure.

Not only that, when they announced the results, they said we think something is wrong here, but we haven't found it.

Re:That seems weird to me (4, Interesting)

Leafheart (1120885) | about 2 years ago | (#39524609)

(stupid mouse with "back" button, lost the damn post, let's restart)

From the second link, emphasis mine

Two days ago a workshop was held at the Gran Sasso laboratories, where the various experiments reported their findings and discussed them. I have no report from the workshop, but it is clear that the superluminal signal of Opera is as dead as it can be. Following the workshop, the Opera collaboration is reported to have voted on removing Ereditato from the leadership position. The motion did not pass, but the voting showed that the collaboration was split, and this must eventually have led Ereditato to step down today.

It seems to me that someone inside took the opportunity to grab power into the structure of OPERA. Shady politics as usual. You are right that erro'ing is part of the scientific process, but on the political, and "journalistic" spheres it is a sign of weakness. So, it seems, that a group who was antagonist to him decided to take the opportunity and strike him down. Even if the vote hasn't passed, the no confidence was already set in motion, and his presence became a burden on the team. Hooray for crook scientists\politicians.

Unfortunately, unless we have someone on the inside of the workshop coming forward, explaining what exactly transpired, it will be kept as speculation. What is a shame.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 2 years ago | (#39525273)

One reason I didn't continue my career as an Astrophysicist (besides not being nearly smart enough to compete with the real physicists) was that I realized how politicized Physics - and by extension, any Science - actually was. I figured that if I had to put up with political bullshit, I might as well get paid for it.

It's useful to keep in mind that scientists are human, despite their grand aspirations. There are good people, bad people, people with delusions of grandeur, just like in any other field.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | about 2 years ago | (#39524767)

Part of scientific endeavor is getting it wrong, and testing again to make sure. It seems like the mistakes that happened were minor, technical, and easy to miss. It would be a very different manner if the problems had been from operational carelessness or intentional fabrication, but I can't actually see any wrongdoing here.

Usually when you see something like this, it's a case of someone who has been on the chopping block for a while. This was probably just the mishap that others were waiting for to call for his resignation. I've seen it a few times.

It is justified to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524811)

Yeah, Opera is fast - especially compared to that bloated pig Firefox. But come on. Not even an Opera fanboi is going to claim it is faster than light.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

theillien (984847) | about 2 years ago | (#39524829)

Once you get to that level it's all just politics.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

bcrowell (177657) | about 2 years ago | (#39524837)

I can't actually see any wrongdoing here.

If I'm understanding the article correctly, he hasn't been fired. He still has a job and a paycheck. He is simply no longer the spokesperson for the collaboration. That makes a lot of sense. Apparently roughly half the people in the collaboration don't have confidence in him to speak for them.

And what about the rest of the team? (5, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about 2 years ago | (#39524891)

The original paper had over a hundred co-authors listed, and I have only heard of 5 people in the entire project that asked to not have their name listed. If the director should resign over this, then why shouldn't the 100+ other people who were confident enough to put their name on the paper?

This is stupid. They did nothing wrong, there is no reason for anyone to resign.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

Torodung (31985) | about 2 years ago | (#39525177)

Exactly. I hope to Science he resigned for other sensible reasons and wasn't forced into it because of his demanding that the data from the experiment which did not seem to match accepted theory be acknowledged and retested for. If that is what solely caused his resignation, I fear for the future of scientific inquiry. In fact, if that is the case, I'm pretty sure we don't have scientists at CERN but instead have politicians, and the only goal of a politician in such matters is to hide dissent and error. Science forbid we adopt politics instead of honest inquiry.

I'm banking that the politics is in press sensationalism, though. I seriously doubt there's even a correlative link between the experiment and his resignation.

FTL Neutrinos shouldn't be completely dismissed (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525303)

My understanding is that the recent experiment showed Neutrinos traveling at the exact same speed as light. That may not be faster, but wouldn't that still require an infinite amount of energy according to current models and therefore not be possible?

Perhaps what we believe to be the maximum constant really is the speed of light, but there is an unknown force of quality of the universe that can change and effect that constant. E=MC2 is the formula for perfect conditions that we know don't really exist in nature, the actually formulas for converting a specific piece of mass into energy also take into account things like velocity; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass%E2%80%93energy_equivalence

Is there a factor that we're missing? Something that is one value 99% of the time and only under certain conditions changes?

Re:That seems weird to me (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#39525311)

We live in a litigious world. Where Science is RIGHT ALL THE TIME!!! And if anyone is wrong, they have to quite. Because people never ever learn from their mistakes and it is better to fire after a mistake was made and hire and retrain a new person, then to actually find new processes to stop the same mistake.

I think others have came up with the idea, but they made a mistake in implementation and promptly got fired.

Re:That seems weird to me (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 2 years ago | (#39525573)

His reaction after the failure was most unprofessional and ridiculous.

What did the Neutrino Say to the Photon? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524401)

First Post!

What A Bunch Of Twats (4, Insightful)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 2 years ago | (#39524413)

All OPERA did was saying, "Hey, we saw a result that made no sense. This is what we did. Can anyone verify that we did something wrong?" And so his peers want him ousted for doing science as it is intended?

Re:What A Bunch Of Twats (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524935)

Well, of course, what else do you expect? Do you expect him to get a reward for trying to "disprove a current leading theory that is the only thing we have that explains how very little we actually know about the fabric of spacetime and how things move around in it"?

Most scientists are egotistical twats. Period.
If anybody steps out of line, you better believe everyone snaps at them and tries to eliminate them at a public and even personal level.
Even if you are the one that is in charge and not the one who made the mistake, you become the scapegoat regardless. It was "your duty to make sure things were correctly connected, synced and working", after all.

Working in the Science world is quite literally MAD with knowledge. You slip up and you get wiped out.
It is pathetic.

Meh. (1)

Severus Snape (2376318) | about 2 years ago | (#39524415)

When you are going to dispute the entire basis of the laws of Physics, you need to make sure you're correct if you are going to go public over it.

From TFA (2)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 2 years ago | (#39524447)

The release of the preliminary Opera results last September was made after the news had leaked from the experiment to a few scientists not belonging to the collaboration.

First sentence of the last paragraph. This means they tried to keep it a secret as long as possible.

Re:From TFA (2)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 2 years ago | (#39524463)

No, it means they didn't think they had anything worth publishing at that point. Big difference.

Re:From TFA (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 2 years ago | (#39524707)

Point taken. However, my point still stands too. It's not like they didn't try to do everything they could before they officially went public with this information.

Re:From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525009)

Not seeing the problem here. "Well, that's weird. We probably screwed something up. Let's not tell everyone about it until we get a sense of what's going on here."

Re:Meh. (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | about 2 years ago | (#39524471)

I agree the hype was a little too much but you can't deny that everyone wanted a little for it to be true. I mean, whatever happened there, if it was true some really cool stuff would have come out of it.

And, like others said, he didn't say OMG, WE PROVED EINSTEIN WRONG!. They actually tried for a long time to explain their results and couldn't. Big deal, that is how science works. They should just go back to work and forget about it.

Re:Meh. (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#39524633)

When you are going to dispute the entire basis of the laws of Physics, you need to make sure you're correct if you are going to go public over it.

Tell that to Galileo. Or Copernicus. Or Einstein, for that matter.

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525419)

Ahahaha! You're a fucking idiot, as well as a total douche.

Galileo firmly believed he was right - and in the regimes he was working in, he was. We normally use Galilean relativity unless we really can't.

Newton firmly believed he was right (and had observations to back him up), not least because of the maths he developed - and in the regimes he was working in, he was. We normally use Newtonian physics unless we really can't.

Einstein firmly believed he was right (and had observations to back him up) - and in the regimes he was working in, he was. We still default to special and general relativities unless we're deliberately altering them to push the limits.

This situation was totally different. They didn't think they were right, and they didn't have the observations to back them up, and we will never use their results except to test that there aren't any dodgy connections - something which, by the by, they'll definitely be checking thoroughly in the future after making themselves look like idiots over all of this.

Re:Meh. (1)

dittbub (2425592) | about 2 years ago | (#39525073)

right! if they fudged up the experiment its a mistake, not an unexpected result. if they forgot to carry the 1, thats a mistake not an unexpected result.

Wrong decision (4, Insightful)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 2 years ago | (#39524441)

They had an unusual result, ended up having to publish something after a leak, then found the error and published that as well. This is science as it should be done. Asking for this man's resignation is idiotic.

Re:Wrong decision (3, Insightful)

photonic (584757) | about 2 years ago | (#39525003)

No-one says that this is not science as usual, this is the typical type of error which you make every now, which on occasion wastes a few weeks of your time. As for the real reason of his resignations I can only speculate. My guess it has to do with the decision to publish the unexpected result so early, only to retract it two months later. It makes them look a bit like amateurs. Couldn't they have kept it internally for another 2 months while double-checking everything? But it must have been hard to have foreseen the public hype that resulted. Do note, finally, that the guy just gave up his position as spokesman of the Opera experiment, it is not like he was forced to resign his professorship or so.

Re:Wrong decision (2)

pavon (30274) | about 2 years ago | (#39525335)

They only published their results after people outside of the group found out about it and started talking about it. At that point publishing was the best thing to do. Unless Ereditato was the one who leaked the information outside of the group, then I don't see any reason to fault him.

There must be something more to this (1)

AgNO3 (878843) | about 2 years ago | (#39524443)

Wasn't this experiment about something else completely and this was just something that was observed and then a request for other to help find out possibly why they got this result.

Re:There must be something more to this (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#39524519)

OMG Ponies!!! with Glitter!!!! I miss Pink :-(

Ah, your sig reminds me ... must stay away from Slashdot on Sunday ... I don't wan to see that stupid ponies theme again or any of the other crap it brings.

Re:There must be something more to this (1)

AgNO3 (878843) | about 2 years ago | (#39524717)

Nothing beats Ponies and Pink and glitter

Your Fired! (1)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 years ago | (#39524445)

Nice to see Einstein is still making an impact on lives 60 years later.

Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524449)

Why did he resign? Everything I heard showed he was handling the situation well. He got some unlikely results, published them with plenty of "there's probably something else going on here, don't get too exited" disclaimers, and then it turned out that some of the equipment was faulty in an unexpected way.

Nothing there seems too incompetent. Why did his group want him gone?

Re:Why? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 2 years ago | (#39524475)

Why did his group want him gone?

"His group" did not want him gone. Some members did, but when a vote was taken to oust him, it failed.

It's science people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524459)

So now whoever figures out warp drive will know to keep their stupid mouth shut!

Why? (4, Insightful)

inhuman_4 (1294516) | about 2 years ago | (#39524481)

Seems wrong to me. You shouldn't fire a scientist because they got something wrong. As long as he followed the procedure and acted in good faith I think the community should let him be. From what I can see he practiced due diligence. A quote from the guy:

We wanted to find a mistake - trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects - and we didn't. When you don't find anything, then you say 'well, now I'm forced to go out and ask the community to scrutinize this.'

Seems to me like he wasn't doing anything wrong, or make outrageous claims. They did an experiment and got questionable results. They tried to find the reason for the strange results and couldn't. So they asked for peer review. Peer reviewers found the mistake. Progress marches on.

Re:Why? (1)

pz (113803) | about 2 years ago | (#39524695)

Indeed, that's the sort of care and action that is to be lauded, not punished.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525051)

Yeah, the only thing that got out of hand was the media cought hold of it, and turned, 'We seem to have observed something that is impossible according to current theory' into 'current theory wrong, we have proof.'

This would have been an excellent opportunity (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#39524503)

This would have been an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the difference between science and religion. A falsifiable hypothesis thrown out. Instead we have someone "sacked for heresy", giving totally the wrong message.

Re:This would have been an excellent opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524759)

I'm not sure the message was wrong.

Science is objective by design. Scientists are not. Science is then blamed for failures of scientists.

Certain religions indicate turning other cheeks and espouse actual martyrdom (not blowing up people "martyrdom") and passive resistance. Then the so-called adherents to that religion go off and massacre infidels and burn heretics. Religion is then blamed for the failure of adherents.

I actually see some pretty striking parallels.

"the particles, known as neutrinos" (0)

aBaldrich (1692238) | about 2 years ago | (#39524507)

Is this slashdot?

sigh (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#39524547)

Lets see:
They got unexpected result.
They tested many time and continued to get the same result
They went public and said this is are results, but would would like other people to verify them, cause the result seem unlikely.
People looked into the test, found some issue, but they wouldn't account for the 60 ns
then some more test where run, the result where as expected(not FTL)

Sounds lie proper science to me. Why was he forced to step down? Are we now saying that only scientist whose experiments are successful can do experiments?

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525027)

geekoid managed a post without unnecessary cursing or hostility? I.... I don't get it. But then he's not replying to a poster either...

Still odd to see though.

Re:sigh (2)

canajin56 (660655) | about 2 years ago | (#39525397)

Are we now saying that only scientist whose experiments are successful can do experiments?

No because he still works at OPERA as a scientist. He now no longer has the extra duty of talking to the press, on account of failing in the (impossible?) task of making them report honestly and accurately on the OPERA results.

I can't (1)

sohbetful (2607295) | about 2 years ago | (#39524577)

I can't actually see any wrongdoing here

LAME! (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | about 2 years ago | (#39524599)

I'm disappointed by this.

It's not like he intentionally lied or deceived. I followed the issue from beginning to end and it was carried out exactly the way we all expect an anomaly to be investigated, with caution and soliciting help from peers.

If anything, I would trust this professor even more based on his handling of the situation. /scratches head, sighs.../

I wish politicians would step down in light of (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 2 years ago | (#39524611)

I wish politicians would step down in light of evidence. Not like the Santorum henchmen...

Re:I wish politicians would step down in light of (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#39524915)

Unfortunately, only loose cables seem to be justification for resignations. Not screws.

Re:I wish politicians would step down in light of (2)

boristhespider (1678416) | about 2 years ago | (#39525475)

The difference is that then the politicians lose their job, while this guy is still getting paid the same salary, holding the same professorship - and, frankly, can still travel to all the OPERA conferences. To be honest, given the publicity and the stress that come with heading the collaboration I wouldn't be entirely surprised if there wasn't some relief mixed in with the pain and irritation.

It wouldn't have happened... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524625)

if he'd shelled out the bucks for Monster Cables!

Re:It wouldn't have happened... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524731)

Fuck any fags that link to the amazon denon cable review page. So sick of seeing that. Sick of seeing the same obvious xkcd linked on various stories as well. Why is the same joke funny to you foss-fags the 100th time?

"Didn't you hear? The FTL neutrino guy resigned" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524675)

That will be my stock answer whenever a customer tells me they need something "yesterday".

Getting it wrong is right (5, Interesting)

cullaloe (1324935) | about 2 years ago | (#39524691)

That seems a shame to me. I'm a science educator and one of the things students love science for is that it's OK to get it wrong. You're allowed to do all the planning, setting up, measurements, analysis and evaluation and get the wrong answer, provided that you're honest about what you did and leave a record such that other can repeat what you did to see if they get the same thing. The faster-than-light news story was fantastic for me to underline the strength of science for my students, not least because of the very careful things that were being said by the scientists (compared to the media hyperbole). I hope Prof. Ereditato hasn't been made to regret the very great open service he did for contemporary science.

Everyone makes mistakes, even Einstein... (1)

znigelz (2005916) | about 2 years ago | (#39524697)

What if Einstein resigned from his post just because he challenged Newton's laws? What if Ereditato is actually right, but this specific experiment was wrong? There are too many old jaded stubborn researchers without an open mind, which are holding back progress in every field. There is nothing wrong with questioning something and being proven wrong.

Re:Everyone makes mistakes, even Einstein... (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#39525005)

What if Einstein resigned from his post just because he challenged Newton's laws?

Uh, everyone knew that Newton's Laws didn't work properly in exotic situations; Einstein was the first to figure out what was wrong.

We already have a ton of evidence that neutrinos can't travel faster than light, so the odds of this being correct were only a little larger than the odds of the average Internet conspiracy theory being correct.

You shouldn't have to resign just because you're wrong, but when you get your mistake plastered all over the media you do look a bit silly.

This is unfortunate (2)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | about 2 years ago | (#39524723)

I think we can all agree at this point that the "FTL Neutrino" claim was wrong - but scientists need the freedom to be wrong once in a while, even in a big way. Without it, they might be afraid to make the kind of leaps of insight that one needs to keep science advancing. It follows that this person shouldn't have lost their job just for being wrong. Now, if there's clear evidence that he was stealing money, that's something else.

Oh, brother.. (1)

Rostin (691447) | about 2 years ago | (#39524753)

I know we're all in the great big hurry to use the version of the "scientific method" we learned in the 3rd grade (supplemented by what we've gleaned since then from reading popular science articles and watching TED talks) to dissect whether this guy should or should not have quit. But has it occurred to any of you that maybe he was a bad manager who didn't realize it until he and his team were placed under a lot of stress? Or maybe he is tired of being in charge and wants to go back to his university full time to lead a more normal academic life? Or maybe there's something else internally that happened that we don't know about because it's none of our business?

I know this might be hard to accept, but scientists are not robots who behave in strict accordance with The Scientific Method in every aspect of their lives (however one would actually do that). They are human beings who make life decisions for a wide variety of reasons, just like everyone else.

Re:Oh, brother.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525257)

I don't see how a vote is a "life decision".

There could be other reasons...but the vote suggests he didn't agree with it...unless he voted against himself of course.

Coolness averted (1)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about 2 years ago | (#39524835)

I don't think it's too late for us to all say, openly and without any self-recriminations, that it would have been massively, epically cool had they actually and verifiably found a FTL particle. I'll admit it - it surely would have been cool.

Magic Carpet Ride (1)

allquixotic (1659805) | about 2 years ago | (#39524847)

The problem with their experimental approach is that they did not attempt to break the warp barrier by using a hollowed-out nuclear missile as the basis for a ship. Because we can totally break the warp barrier with a manned spaceflight *before* we can do it with tiny particles, right?

science suffers from publishing too few errors (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 2 years ago | (#39524903)

The problem becomes that new people sometimes repeat those errors without having known they had happened before. I have seen this in my field. Publishing error does not get you tenure.

Therefore the Opera group should be lauded for publishing theirs. They tried pretty hard to eliminate error.

Quite Ironically.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39524931)

I thought witch hunts were reserved to the church.. Poor chap.

hmmmm..... (1)

butilikethecookie (2566015) | about 2 years ago | (#39524961)

I read a story on Slashdot that this was caused because of a loose wire. Maybe he loosened the wire himself? I know I would......phyc....

Which is it? (1)

dittbub (2425592) | about 2 years ago | (#39524967)

Unexpected Result or Fundamental Mistake? Surely if I made a colossal error i'd try to say its just an 'unexpected result'...

NO, NO, NO! Not Acceptable! (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 years ago | (#39525315)

One would think that a world class smart guy would come up with a better excuse for taking Spring Break.

This should not have happened. (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about 2 years ago | (#39525373)

It's a shame that Einstein would disapprove of. He was fond of bucking the establishment and encouraged future scientists to challenge his work. Science should never be afraid of going against what is established, known and popularly accepted as dogma.

I think the Opera study results were wrong. Similar reports were seen in the mine in Soudan in Minnesota and they felt that the margin of error was wide enough to that they could not substantiate their results. The opera study didn't make this same decision and they should have. That being said the followed process, didn't hype it and did things the right way. There was no attempt at fraud or deceit and there is nothing to apologize for.

All this resignation will do is discourage others from challenging what is accepted dogma. That is the scientific shame, not the fact that the scientists at Opera got things wrong.

One step forward, two steps back (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525513)

Let us not bring science to the level of politics! Now we have two failures, one of which is a failure of science, which is welcomed, and the other of perspective, which indeed is something to be ashamed of. Science welcomes failure. If something is falsified, then we are only that much closer to the actual truth of things. Let's start a petition to have this man reinstated in spite of himself!

AT Light speed == FTL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525565)

Earlier this month, a test run by a different group at the same Italian laboratory recorded neutrinos travelling at precisely light speed.

The people who made this observation and are saying there's no big deal about it should be fired!

Did neutrinos suddenly lose their mass somewhere? An object with mass traveling at the speed of light should be an impossibility! That's what it means to divide by 0! Going AT the speed of light is no less a violation of special relativity than going FASTER!

Not the Opera browser, the physics experiment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39525591)

Did a double take there...

Yeah, I like Opera browser, and I know it has some rabid fans, but claiming it's faster than light speed...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>