In defence of Jeremy’s 9/11 tweet

It seems that everyday the papers are filled with an “Outrage”. Since it’s September it’s the beginning of the “Ban the poppy/Christmas” outrage bus, but it’s now at the point where an “outrage” is simply something as innocuous as a tweet*.

Take for example the “outrage” over a tweet Owen Smith sent back in April:

Yea it’s not exactly up there in terms of funny but at the beginning of September the Corbyn supporters found it and latched onto it as an example of how sexist and misogynistic Owen is. The Gobstopper is obviously a reference to shutting Sturgeon up especially since it was the campaigning for the local elections (one Labour did exceptionally well to avoid a total collapse/ won more than anyone ever has hail Corbyn!) so in context it’s hardly up there with something like this, which by the way is a perfect example of being a sexist waste of skin:

Now for something I never thought I’d do with less than a week until the election results are due, I’m about to defend Jeremy Corbyn.

I’m not a fan or Jeremy anymore and my reasons are scattered throughout this blog and twitter. It all started on Sunday, a day when campaigning across the board ceased to remember the events of September 11, 2001. Amongst the posts from politicians expressing sorrow and remembrance was this from Jeremy:

It’s an inevitability that anything Jeremy was going to post that day was going to be leapt upon his past associations and comments, not to mention his Director of Communications being the person who immediately blamed the US and once said the murder of Lee Rigby wasn’t terrorism because he was a soldier (then there’s the praising Stalin stuff) meant that it was going to be open season. Naturally a lot of people were annoyed that he had shoehorned some anti western sentiment into a sombre moment or that he was using it to score cheap political points (the irony of then using Jeremy scoring cheap points, to score cheap points was immediately lost)

But here’s the thing.

Is it really *THAT* offensive or outrageous?**

Many think that it simply wasn’t the right time to mention the aftermath of 9/11 but then they can never answer the question “then when is?” without giving the same answer “anyday but this”. The problem is I fundamentally disagree. In the 15 years since 9/11 we’ve went to war in Afghanistan, thrown lives and resources trying to bring order to a land that proved the downfall of the greatest empires in history, we’ve left behind a broken country in Iraq, where lawlessness, sectarianism, and now ISIS which rose from the ashes of the insurgency in Iraq controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. There’s been attacks in London, Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Nice, Tunisia, Bali, Baghdad, Mosul, Moscow, Kenya, Texas, Boston, Cologne, and many of which have their origins in the aftermath of 9/11.

Then there’s the argument of “Think about their families” well what about the Familiy of 13 year old Mohammed Tuaimanor the families of those killed in Yemen when a drone strike hit a wedding ceremony?

I think the issue is this has resulted in a war that hasn’t ended. In 3 months when people stop to remember the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor people will be thinking about the attack, the loss of life and some will think about what happened after, the remembering the victims in the aftermath comes in May and August with VE and VJ day. A day when we stop, fall silent and remember those who died in the battles that followed (for Americans at least.) There’s no single moment in the War on Terror where we can stop and think of everything that has happened after, there’s no VGWOT day.

I think it’s also important that we do remember the aftermath, how as a people once the dust settled we began to fight back, badly. 15 years and the only notable victory was the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Afghanistan is slowly falling back into the hands of the Taliban, Syria and Iraq are on fire, Libya is a mess, Egypt is in the middle of a brutal crackdown. If we don’t stop to remember what happened and what came next we’re bound to make the same mistakes, we relegate the “War on Terror” as a separate beast to 9/11 and disassociate what we’ve done after as a response to it. We doom ourselves to forget the lessons and if it were to happen again we’re bound to make them again.

As James Joyce wrote in ‘Ulysses’ “History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”

At the end of the day Jeremy is vehemently anti-war, he was well within his rights to highlight what came next, we should never forget 9/11, the peaceful bright morning shattered by the sound of jet engines.

*As a caveat I’m not saying that all tweets aren’t worthy of outrage, I mean Donald Trump’s feed is testament to just how awful it can get and the less said about Katie Hopkins the better.

** It’s not like he wished his enemies a happy 9/11, I mean you’d have to be a grade A asshole to do tha- DAMMIT DONALD!

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Anti-vaxxers play the Trump card *Boom* Autism!

Untitled

America has a problem and that problem is celebrity. We live in a world where morons like Trump can spout this drivel and people will believe it. There is a massive issue over there with the topic of vaccinations. In 1998 a group of Doctors published a paper in the Lancet. In it, the authors claimed to have identified a new syndrome, autistic enterocolitis, raising the possibility of a link between a novel form of bowel disease, autism, and the MMR vaccine. The authors noted that the parents of eight of the twelve children linked what were described as “behavioural symptoms” with MMR, and reported that the onset of these symptoms began within two weeks of MMR vaccination.

Now the paper did state there was a link with Autism and the gastronomical problems. However it did not show a link between the MMR vaccine . This wasn’t good enough for the papers lead Dr Andrew Wakefield who decided in a press conference that there was a link and that the MMR vaccine should be dropped. Cue a massive media panic and fewer and fewer parents giving their children the MMR vaccine, or worse, just not getting their children vaccinated.

This wasn’t much of a problem at the time however there was a big Measles outbreak in Swansea in 2013 linked to the decline caused by the MMR controversy.

Eventually though the truth got out that Wakefield was a fraud, he received payments from groups who were trying to bring down the MMR and the companies that produced it, had filed patents for a rival single jab vaccine and had falsified the data. The paper was retracted and Wakefield barred from practicing medicine in the UK. Eventually we realised as a nation we were duped and began vaccinating children.

In the US however the problem is the findings and the belief that vaccinations cause autism gained traction and became a personal interest of “celebrity” Jenny McCarthy.

McCarthy’s son has autism (although further research using information available suggests a mis-diagnosis) although at first she didn’t mention a link between vaccines and Autism however she then decided it did and cited Wakefields paper as exhibit A (Wakefield also wrote the foreword to her book.) Reaction to this was not that kind with many outraged at her claims and her defending Wakefield following his outing as a fraud.

The anti-vaccination movement is still strong in America and very Vocal, even though New York is in the middle of a measles outbreak there hasn’t been a significant drop in the rates of people being vaccinated. However enough have refused it to cause a disease once thought eradicated in the US to come back with a vengeance.

The Centre for Disease control recently published a new report with revised higher estimates of people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. This prompted Wig-wearing-bigoted-loudmouth-Scottish-natural-beauty-hater Donald Trump to take to Twitter

Reaction was, well it’s the Internet and Trump is a prat so you work it out. However he is a believer in the idea that if you give a child 3 vaccinations their immune system gets all screwed up and Autism happens. You would think there would be lots of science done over this with charts and case studies, there is, and there’s absolutely no truth in this idea whatsoever.

What may be true thanks to a study at the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine is that Autism may begin before the vaccines, and before the child is born. If this is proven then you would think the Anti-vaxxers would call it a day. But since they’ve continuously ignored any scientific research with vaccines and autism in general it’s unlikely this is far from over.

Meanwhile the world is beginning to represent the map in the Pandemic game, all because celebrities know how to get the public to believe them, that governments are too slow and useless to put out the correct information and state their case clearly and because we trust the word of a washed up “celeb” over experts.

CNN: First for faking news.

“Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures,
And of so easy and so plain a stop
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it.”

William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II

The Boston marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt is the first terrorist attack against a western target in the social media age. Not even 5 minutes had passed since the first bomb detonated changing the lives of hundreds and ending those of 3 before images were circulating on the internet, the most poignant of all is that of Jeff Bauman being wheeled away one leg missing and all that remains on the other is the bone and hanging torn flesh. For a moment 24 hour rolling news and Social media were working side by side, one feeding the other news instantaneously. Sadly that didn’t last.

Rolling news has a problem, that problem is rolling news. Just like newspapers need to get exclusives to boost sales and damage competitors, rolling news needs the same they need the next big story, with reporters and cameras at the scene before their rivals. Nowhere more clearly illustrated that than Boston.

When the AP put a flash out quoting one unnamed source that an Arrest was imminent it was quickly spread on social media, however, like a massive game of chinese whispers the “truth” became distorted.

Unless you were on CNN, in which case the truth got well and truly kicked in the nuts. When it comes to breaking news CNN used to be the master, it was one of the first 24 hour news networks and built up a respectable reputation for objectivity and good journalistic practice. Of course that was before competition from Fox news and MSNBC, now they seem more content to show celebrity or human interest stories and not actual news.
It was thought that the low point for CNN was the “hologram” used for the 2008 election in an attempt to get more viewers. However the 1 hour 40 minutes on wednesday left us all yearning for a return of the hologram.

It began with CNN contributor John King reporting a breakthrough in the identification of the bombers before describing them as a “dark skinned male” then saying that speculating on the suspect may inflame tensions, then followed up by repeating the dark skinned male line.

Shortly after King looked at his phone and broke in that there was an arrest, immediately AP tweeted this as breaking news and a media scrum ensured. Most major networks carried this as breaking news despite it coming from one unnamed source “close to the investigation.” What followed was half an hour of speculation on the suspect it wasn’t until an hour later when CNN law enforcement expert, Tom Fuentes, a former assistant director of the F.B.I., appeared on the air and reported that he had three sources who assured him no arrest had been made.

CNN then double backed and tried to distance themselves from the speculation they themselves had caused (or in the words of Jon Stewart; CNN had become the human centipede of news, eating it’s own shit in some sort of cycle)
This shows the main problem with 24 hour news on a developing story, you have 3,4 or more people with a lot of time to kill between developments, so, it’s obvious that speculation and gossip take over and now social media is such an integral part this now makes these broadcasts a bit like the drunk in the bar spouting off about anything to anyone who would listen.

Print media haven’t covered themselves in glory. Special mention goes to the -soon to be written off- New York Post, who haven’t endeared themselves to their owner, Rupert Murdoch, who is considering a sale of the paper. The NYP who faced criticism in December for reprinting a picture of Ki Suk Han trying to climb back onto the New York Subway platform. He was unsuccessful and Mr Han was killed under the headline “DOOMED.”
This time the Post headline was “Bag men” and contained an image of 2 individuals it said police were looking for. These two have two things in common, they have bags, but so did many people present. The other link is their skin colour, they’re both “brown.”

Salah Barhoun came forward to protest his innocence and now thanks to the internet and media is now fearful of reprisals. It transpired that the suspects weren’t brown they were Caucasian, in fact the only way they could be any more Caucasian would be if they were from the Caucasus, and they were. But the Post still decided to play a game of Where’s Ahmed with the crowd and along with some sections of the internet wrongfully identifies other innocent victims as suspects and again under the sole reason that they were “brown.” The MailOnline had an image under another accusing headline showing a man running away from the explosion claiming he was a suspect because “he was seen running in the opposite direction from the crowd” And also because he was Brown.

The media and internet detectives haven’t covered themselves in glory and it turns out the suspects were stopped by a combination of real police work and a vigilant city even with the hindrances of press and Internet.

Thatcher

So Thatcher is dead, ding dong and all that. Right now the TV is filled with rose tinted views of her, people who in life betrayed her and forced her out of office praising her strength and character. Others, especially here are relieved I suppose is the word. Some have gone too far and are partying in the streets in Brixton and in Scotland.

I myself, am nonplussed. Thatcher did good and in the North extremely bad is she worthy of the reaction? probably. Is it right? no. Now i’m not going to take the moral high ground and plead for decorum and to think of her family, after all she didn’t care about the families of the 96 at Hillsborough or the families who starved and went poor in her battle against the unions.

History will judge her, not you or I, Instead I leave you the words of Shakespeare:

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;”

Whoops

A few days ago the Prime Minister appeared on ‘This Morning’ during the interview he was ambushed by Phillip Schofield on the abuse scandal currently engulfing the country. Schofield had spent only a “few minutes” on the internet searching for the high profile member of the Conservative party who was alleged to be involved.

Now there’s no secret that there were at least one or more members involved in the scandal, some of the names are in the public domain already so it’s highly unlikely David Cameron isn’t aware of who they are. Much in the same way the Premiership footballer involved in the Super Injunctions wasn’t an open secret.
During the interview Cameron warned of a “[Gay] Witch hunt” many saw this as a veiled insult that being gay is equal to being a paedophile, it could be. Or it could be something more rational, that in the minds of some being gay is a “sexual deviancy” that is akin to paedophilia. It turns out the more widely discussed name was in fact innocent of the allegations but this was revealed too late.

Last Friday the BBC’s flagship current affairs show ‘Newsnight’ broadcast a report into the North Wales abuse scandal. In it, one of the victims Steve Messham revealed that a senior Conservative from the Thatcher administration had abused him. Newsnight had the scoop, they had the name but in the report the name was omitted  They didn’t even contact the person offering them right of reply. The report broadcast immediately added fuel to a mob mentality online and in the media on the identity. Many high profile journalists named them online, the wife of the Speaker of the House – Sally Bercow- also named him online. 2 days ago that person came forward to deny the reports.

Lord McAlpine, a former conservative party treasurer released a statement, in it he says:

“I must publicly tackle these slurs and set the record straight. It is obvious that there must be a substantial number of people who saw that I had been identified in the internet publications as this guilty man and who subsequently saw or heard the broadcasts or read the newspapers in question and reasonably inferred that the allegation of guilt in those broadcasts and newspapers attached to me.”

Last night Newsnight under the supervision of a senior BBC executive apologised for the error, it also carried the apology of Steven Messham who said the man in the photograph he saw at the time was said to be that of McAlpine and after seeing a photo of him from that time period recently he is now aware that it wasn’t him. Newsnight, Phillip Schofield and the internet got it wrong. I will admit I too have seen the list of names online, some of them I can’t see being involved. I’m guilty of passing on the names in conversation as, I suspect, has nearly everyone else who is interested in this story. David Cameron was right, this has become a witch hunt. Innocent people are being dragged into this story and the nature of the allegations are career ending for almost everyone involved. The British public despise child abusers, these stories can make even the most reasoned and rational person turn into a foaming lunatic demanding blood.

McAlpine is now pursuing legal action, it is highly likely Newsnight will be the main target they behaved irresponsibly it was a massive failing of journalistic standards in pursuit of a story. Newsnight already had a massive story linked to all this. They refused to run it.

Their story?

That TV superstar Jimmy Savile was a serial child abuser with victims in their hundreds.

The Olympics and a pointless defence.

The news has been quite busy this week over the security arrangements for the Olympics. Much was written about HMS Ocean sailing up the Thames and how there are Typhoon fighters at Northolt just in case.

However one of the more controversial ones is the placing of anti air missiles on an apartment block adjacent to the Olympic park. United Shades of Britain (Oh here’s a conflict of interest that’s on a Jeremy Hunt level) had an article published a few days ago:

By Jane McCallion

If you are in the UK, you are probably aware by now that being awarded the Olympics is apparently the equivalent of issuing some kind of giant “come at me bro” to all the terrorist organisations and deranged individuals in the world.

It is also unlikely to have escaped your attention that, having painted a giant target on the country, the way to deal with this threat is to deploy surface to air missiles in some of the most densely populated areas of London, the most populous city in Europe.

I’m not quite sure why the government has engaged in this strange and polarised rhetoric about how the Olympics are simultaneously the best thing that has ever happened to the country and the most dangerous thing to ever happen in this country, but they have. As such, there is a pervasive need to be seen to be doing something to address this hyperbolic threat. The most recent iteration of this is announcing that the roof of an apartment complex is the ideal place to locate a missile battery.

Yet this show of strength is impotent.

In a replay of 7/7, missiles will not save us. From Omagh to Oaklahoma to Oslo, terrorists have struck not from the air but on the ground, with homemade bombs hidden in unremarkable vehicles or about their person. And really, by the time the bomb is in place, it is sadly too late.

Even in a 9/11 situation, are we really going to start shooting down planes over previously mentioned densely populated areas and Olympic venues? From some of the busiest skies in Europe?

There probably are people out there who would love to blow London sky high during the Olympics, or crash planes, or release toxins. However, I trust our security services and police to stop them in advance, like they did on 21 July 2005, or with the liquid bomb plot. This is surely what we all want.

Missiles on rooftops and heaths are not reassuring, they are ludicrous and give the impression that the government has not only lost the plot, but lost control. If we get to the stage where we are blowing things up ourselves in the name of safety, then God help us all.

I can understand having Ocean docked, not only does it act as a launchpad for helicopters closer to the Olympic park but it had medical facilites and a pretty impressive command and control capability. However a few AA missiles will destroy a rogue aircraft but also create a shotgun effect of Aircraft debris. Naturally these missiles are a last ditch attempt to stop an aircraft and probably will never be used.

However thanks to the UK border force the chance of anyone being on these aircraft is slim since they’ll be still in Terminal 5 bitching to BBC that they’re 3 hours late.

I can’t help but think this is just the Government over reacting to a trillion to one chance.  Security during the Olympics has to be number one on the priority list. Although this is OTT and offers little to no security and is more an attempt at some general trying to score a few brownie points. Although I have it on good authority there is a hunter killer submarine in Hyde Parks pond and Nelsons column has been replaced with a Trident nuclear missile.

Videogames, the silent killer.

“Violent video games are fuelling rise in aggressive behaviour’
Children as young as four are re-enacting scenes from ultra-violent video games at school after being given free access to consoles in the home, according to teachers’ leaders.”

“Children becoming addicted to video game fantasy worlds, teachers warn
Education union wants ‘stringent legislation’ to combat growing trend of young pupils acting out violent scenes in playgrounds”

With a school shooting in the US and a rather horrific murder here in the UK by 14 year old Daniel Bartlam the media has been obsessing over what could have caused this. Now the shooting appears to be down to bullying and mental problems but the Bartlam murder is far more surreal.

The Daily Mirror is leading the “Kieth Vaz crusade” implying that video games may have turned Bartlam into a hammer wielding killer who bludgeoned his mother to death then set fire to the body. A group of teachers today warned that kids as young as 4 are seen acting out violent scenes from video games and are worried we’re Call of duty black ops 2 away from Columbine.

Well here’s a little fact. Bartlam was apparently inspired not by the mean streets of Vice city, or the barren wasteland of a post nuclear middle east. He was inspired by something more horrid. The cold mean cobbles of Coronation street * DUM DUM DUM DUM*-oh wrong one. Video games don’t make you a killer. Legislation isn’t needed to stop kids playing violent games, better parenting is. If you’re letting a 4 year old beat up a hooker, pinch a car and run others over then you really are a horrible parent. Or possibly Liverpudlian. If you let them do it on a video game then not only are you breaking the law regarding age restricted products then you, YOU are to blame for when the child acts this out.

It’s like siphoning off petrol then blaming someone else when it bursts into flames. It isn’t getting to the source of the issue. By enforcing existing laws regarding age restricted items then you don’t need to bring in new laws. There is a serious “Blame someone else” culture prevalent in this country. It needs to stop. I suggest having those “injury lawyers fed to wild animals” as a good start.

I play video games, not once have I pimped a ho, or felt tempted to stamp on mushrooms then crawl through a pipe. I don’t hear parents complaining that “Little Timmy played Grand theft auto and now is in Mexico battling the Sanchez cartel for control of Acapulco”

If Cameron want’s us to be a Christian nation then maybe he should lead by example.

I’ve been wanting to write something about this latest bout of nonsense that our esteemed Prime Minister has come up with earlier this week, but frankly I’ve been too enraged to put thought to “Paper” as it were.

Now having read the speech in full I have a better understanding of where he was coming from. For those not in the know Cameron was giving a speech on the 400th anniversary of the King James bible, which was the third bible to be translated into English. Now as a book there is no doubting the importance of the KJ version. However to state that we are a Christian country was technically correct but grossly offensive and wrong on a practical level.

For the Prime minister his administration hasn’t had an easy ride. The largest outbreak of civil disobedience in a decade, skyrocketing unemployment and an economy that is terminal. He has taken us to war in Libya and won. He has also faced anger amongst his party for giving too much away to the Liberal Democrats their partners in crime and for sabotaging a vote on the UK’s role in the European union. So it is no wonder that in the last few weeks his stance has hardened considerably.

First he told the EU to get stuffed winning praise from his party and the press who are too wrapped up in their own xenophobia and fear of Brussels to see that his actions will undoubtedly come at a huge cost to the ordinary people of the country. His actions destroyed any political capital he gained over Libya and effectively sent Anglo-French relations back to 2003 levels. It isn’t a shock to see Cameron return to the talking points that saw him “elected” in 2010.

His most controversial theme remains this myth of a Broken Britain. It was on he used verbatim during the riots this summer, his belief that absent fathers, a dependence on benefits and “lax morals” resulted in it have been put under scrutiny not at least by the Guardian who have been running a pretty conclusive study (in association with the LSE) about the causes. The most conclusive came from the Children’s society that found 53% of rioters came from 20% of the most deprived areas in the uk. An MoJ study found that  of the young riot defendants 64% came from the poorest fifth of areas and only 3% from the richest fifth. Now there is a correlation behind deprivation and some of the symptoms of this “broken Britain” it is likely that in a deprived area there will be high unemployment a dependence on benefits and youth crime. But this isn’t because of a lost sense of Morals that Cameron thinks we have.

This is because of government incompetence. Instead of saying Boo to Europe to save his mates in the city who, lets face it are the main cause of this epic 1930’s mess we’re in now Cameron should be doing everything in his power to help those less off. Instead of spending billions on a rail system no-one needs or dodgy tax tax deals with big corporations or even slashing the budget on those benefits people need he should be re-instating EMA with better controls so those that need it get it, he shouldn’t be cutting the disability benefits for those who cannot work, he shouldn’t be abandoning those who need help, writing off an entire generation of young people, people with hopes and potential to go onto great things and he shouldn’t be harking back to a 1950’s rosy cheek ideal. Unless of course he isn’t a sentimentalist and is indeed taking us back to a vilified youth and economic desperation. Cameron needs to remember the key lesson in Christianity. That of Faith and Charity and Hope.

If he want’s to be a Christian country that applies Christian morals then surely helping the needy is the main one. Not the money lenders at the temple.

How do you solve a problem like Neutrino

The science world was abuzz (or if you’re a Sun reader, at WAR) over news coming out of CERN at the end of the week after a paper was released revealed that the OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) detector had detected Neutrinos fired 730km away at CERN in Geneva before they should have. What makes this the more interesting is the fact that the yardstick they measure the timings with is the speed of light.

Neutrino’s are sub atomic particles that have a near zero mass and rarely interact with anything. They are brilliant little blighters, they pass through everything including you and you never notice. They are quite similar to electrons but posess no charge of their own which means that they are not affected by the electromagnetic forces that act on electrons.They are affected only by the weak sub-atomic force, and also interact gravitationally with other particles.

Now the OPERA team have been very careful about this experiment, we all remember the hoo-ha from NASA’s arsenic based life discovery and how badly they got hammered. Before I go into the details about the discovery it is worth noting one thing;

At no point did the original paper declare the speed of light broken, it didn’t say Einstein is wrong and it hasn’t caused a rewrite of physics. The paper at the conclusion (the part past the point the media just went *pftttttttttttt I don’t get it) states quite emphatically:

Despite the large significance of the measurement reported here and the stability of the
analysis, the potentially great impact of the result motivates the continuation of our studies in
order to investigate possible still unknown systematic effects that could explain the observed
anomaly. We deliberately do not attempt any theoretical or phenomenological interpretation of
the results.

However that bit was lost judging by this. Apparently the sun will ratchet up the rhetoric on anything. Despite the belief that we kicked relativity’s ass the Opera team are asking other long baseline neutrino experiments (Long baseline put simply means there’s a large distance separating the Neutrino source from the detector) before they really bring this out as a discovery. Infact the MINOS (Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search) detector also found similar results.

However the level of uncertainty in that experiment was larger than the 7.4 nanosecond systematic and 6.9 nanosecond statistical uncertainty. However John Costella argues that the OPERA team have, in laymans terms, cocked up their estimates. He argues that instead of a 6.9 statistical uncertainty the experiment actually contains an uncertainty of 61 ns with a statistical uncertainty of 24 ns and a:

“systematic uncertainty of 7 ns. Even if we were to take the systematic uncertainty to be accurate, this
result is now within two standard errors, which disqualifies it as a “discovery”, rendering it simply “an
interesting result”

While the original paper does spend most of the time arguing against the larger uncertainties including the distance from source to detector including a nice bit of trivia in that the GPS satellite can detect continental drift and even detected the massive Earthquake in 2009 that centered around L’Aquilla

Monitoring of the PolaRx2e GPS antenna position at LNGS, showing the slow earth crust drift and the fault displacement due to the 2009 earthquake in the L’Aquila region. Units for the horizontal (vertical) axis are years (meters)

The main crux of the experiment was that the detector was recording strikes by the neutrinos 60 billionth of a second earlier than they should. The Opera paper discounts random strikes by the trillions and trillions of the  neutrinos that pass through everything, including you, “The relative fraction of cosmic-ray events accidentally falling inthis window is 10-4, and it is therefore negligible” It discounts discrepancies in the distance from source to collector claiming it is only 20cm out.

However one interesting argument against this finding comes from one of the most powerful events in the cosmos.

Supernova SN1987a was a first in that it was visible in both visible and neutrino instruments. The guys over at theNeutrino blog did a quick calculation and using the findings of the opera paper (that the difference between the speed of light and the speed of the neutrinos is “(v-c)/c = δt/(TOFc – δt) = (2.48 ± 0.28 (stat.) ± 0.30 (sys.)) x 10-5″

They calculated that the neutrinos from the supernova would have been detected 4.14 years before the light was detected and when you factor in uncertainties this value is 4.14 ± 0.97 years. In fact the neutrinos arrived 3 hours before the light, and that was explained by a burst of neutrinos that happened at the same time as the core collapse of the star, which then resulted in the burst of light.

So the experiment works in the following way.  In Geneva a stream of protons is fired towards a graphite sheet the Pions and Kaons are then focused towards the detector in Gran Sasso. The neutrinos are the product of their decay and it is the Tau neutrino that hits the bricks (literally) in the Opera detector. The taus resulting from the interaction of tau neutrinos will be observed in “bricks” of photographic films and lead sheets. The bricks form a super-module and the super-module contains  150,000 bricks arranged into parallel walls.

The experiment is interesting regardless of the result and the fact we can sit there and do this type of science and manipulate and explore the very fabric of the universe never fails to astound me. The Media reaction is completely over the top and the reaction by other scientists has been rather calm (Boxer short eating comments aside.) To be honest when I first heard the news I did get overexcited however now the rush is over and the analytical side comes out it is easy to see the holes in the research and until the results are replicated I will remain skeptical.

If Costella is right then the margin of Error is greater than this reading. If the experiment holds up against further scrutiny then we’ll need to re-evaluate our understanding of the basic building block of the universe. And stop John Cusak.

Measurement of the neutrino velocity with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam – Original findings
Why CERN’s claims for faster-than-light neutrinos is wrong John Cotella’s paper about the uncertainty