[If you are a layperson interested in the faster-than-light neutrino claim, and you haven’t yet looked at yesterday’s “open-space’’ post and the list of excellent questions laypeople have asked in the comments, you definitely should. And ask your own if you want. That post also gives an organized list of links to all my posts on the neutrino experiment so far.]
Now, here’s a problem: How should a particle physicist budget his or her time, when faced with the OPERA experiment, which has, say, a 1% chance of representing the most important discovery in decades, and a 99% chance of being wrong? After all, life goes on at normal speed — and in particular, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is continuing to gather important data at an accelerating rate. About 100 times more data has been collected in 2011 than in 2010, and before the collider switches off its proton-proton collision run for the year, that multiplier may reach 150 or more. Given the important, and certain, implications of the LHC experiments’ searches for the Higgs particle and other new physics, how much of my time does OPERA’s long-shot neutrino experiment, and its theoretical implications, deserve?
Some, but clearly limited. I obviously shouldn’t neglect my responsibilities with regard to the LHC. And in fact right now, thanks to neutrinos, I am somewhat behind on my preparations for a short workshop later this week. This meeting will bring together a small number of theorists and experimentalists to London, England. We will sit down in a small room, make brief presentations to each other, and discuss all day long how searches for supersymmetry [and, from my point of view, other related theories, though the workshop doesn’t bill itself that way] can be extended, supplemented and improved. The goal is to ensure that LHC data is explored more fully for any new phenomena that might be hiding in it.
And no, unfortunately there’s no obvious and direct way to use the LHC to gain insight into possibly-faster-than-light neutrinos. Indirectly, however… maybe.
But back to work. Right now I could use a bit of that time-travel technology which the world’s most … umm … creative minds are claiming will follow soon from those speeding neutrinos.