Mariastella Gelmini, Italian minister of Education and Scientific Research, has issued a statement on the recent findings from CERN that called into question the theory of relativity.Unfortunately, members of the scientific community have taken issue with the statement for its factual errors and odd tone.
Ugo Bardi, a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Florence translated the statement for his blog, Cassandra’s Legacy:
Statement by the Minister Mariastella Gelmini (Rome, 23 sep 2011) “The CERN and National Institute for Nuclear Physics discovery is a scientific event of fundamental importance.”
“I extend my approval and my sincerest congratulations to the authors of a historical experiment. I am deeply grateful to all the Italian researchers who contributed to this event that will change the face of modern physics.
Exceeding the speed of light is an epochal victory for scientific research around the world.
Italy has contributed to the construction of the tunnel between CERN and Gran Sasso Laboratories, through which the experiment took place, with a sum now estimated at around 45 million euros.
In addition, today Italy supports the CERN with absolute conviction, with a contribution of more than 80 million euros per year and the events we are experiencing are confirming that it is a good and far-sighted choice”.
Observers may note a couple of things.
Firstly, while Gelmini seeks to take credit for the construction of the tunnel between CERN and Gran Sasso, there is in fact no tunnel. While neutrinos were sent between the two laboratories, they traveled through matter, as neutrinos do. A 750km (466 miles) tunnel would be impractical and unnecessary. A fundamental scientific error.
Secondly, the tone of the writing is a clearly different tone than the researchers themselves have used. It is an “event that will change the face of modern physics”, writes Gelmeni.
However, this is how the scientists who made the discovery themselves phrase it:
“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”
For Bardi, the lack of care given to the statement and the seeming importance given not to science being proven but science being disproved:
The minister is happy that relativity, a cornerstone of modern physics, has been demonstrated to be wrong (at least in her opinion). And, if relativity is wrong, so could be climate science and many other areas of science that are bothering some powerful lobbies.
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