No theory too special:
(Giovanni Amelino-Camelia No Theory is Too Special to Question NATURE vol. 483 no. 7388 March 8, 2012 page 125) Obviously it was the title of the article that caught my eye.  The impetus for the article came from an announcement that neutrinos had been detected after traveling a long distance arriving a miniscule amount of time before it should have been possible.  This appeared to conflict with Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity which declares that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.  So there is a pun in the title, one of the engaging things that journal engages in.

After a bit of a brouhaha, an error was detected (please, don’t let me say concocted) in the experiment that accounted for the measurements.  Nowhere did I read why such meticulous measurements of the speed of neutrinos were being made.  But I think I know.  There are not enough neutrinos found coming from the sun.  They know how much energy the sun churns out.  They believe that essentially all of this energy comes from the fusion of hydrogen nuclei to form helium nuclei.  They are pretty sure how many neutrinos must be made in such a reaction.  They have a good handle on how far it is to the sun.  So they can calculate how many should be detectable here.  About half are missing.

I touched on this in the posting about the fitness of the universe for life.  But that is hardly accepted science.  The belief is that some time on the way the neutrinos change form.  If they were traveling at the speed of light, that would not be possible.  Time stands still at the speed of light.  So the neutrinos must be traveling a bit slower.  Hence, I surmise, the measurements. 

The point of the article is that science must always be questioning received wisdom.  Of course you can’t challenge evolution, there is far too much pressure coming from public voices that would deny it altogether.  So the name will never change.  But just what evolution is and how it works is indeed a matter of debate. 

My own … let us call it “reinterpretation” … of evolution is that there must be one or more mechanisms that limit gene pool size and maintain a sufficient degree of consanguinity to make it happen that populations do not attain a size and remain above that size long enough for speciation effects to drive the population to extinction.  And this effect must be stoutly defended by natural selection. 

It’s nice to know that scientists try to be prepared for fundamental changes.  It can’t be easy.

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