News In Brief

Posted on November 30, 2011

Supra-light neutrinos confirmed

Part of the LHC at CERN, an experimental endeavor


It seems, from initial results, that the tests on the surprising results from CERN to check the speed of neutrinos has confirmed faster than light travel. The main reported possible source of error from the first results – the long pulses used for emmission of the neutrinos – was reduced to insignificance by these new tests but the same results still appear to be recorded, according to reports in the press.

Should the result stand, and there are already contradictory tests alleged as well as many serious doubts.If the results were to stand then according to Professor Brian Cox, a particle physicist at the University of Manchester it would be the most profound discovery in physics for more than a century.

However, doubts do still remain and Professor Jim Al-Khalili, a physicist at University of Surrey, said it were proved to be correct, “I will eat my boxer shorts on live TV”. Even after the recent tests confirming the initial results he said: “I am not yet ready to get out my knife and fork.

Independent tests at the same facility have cast serious doubts on the results with their own experiments showing, according to Tomasso Dorigo “…the difference between the speed of neutrinos and the speed of light […is…] compatible with zero.”

Mars probe still quiet

MarsThere has been a hint that the unfortunately named Phobos-Grunt probe the Russians recently launched toward Mars may have finally said hello to the boys on the ground. Facilities in Australia have managed to contact the craft six times and have collected a stream of data to pass on to the Russians. What is needed now, of course, is the probe to receive a stream of commands to send it on its way to Mars but the window to get the probe on its way is fast shrinking. Soon, the planet will be too far distant to send the probe off on its journey.

Anne McCaffrey dies at 85

Anne and DragonWriter of two dozen “Dragonriders of Pern” novels Anne McCaffrey died in Ireland this week in Ireland. Anne – the first woman to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards which are the two top prizes for science-fiction writers, turned to writing after a shot at singing and amateur acting.

Her publisher, Random House, said McCaffrey died of a stroke Monday at her rural residence south of Dublin, her home for four decades. She christened her self-designed house Dragonhold.

Poor sick USA

According to a survey carried out by the Commonwealth Fund, an organisation based in New York, 42% of Americans with chronic conditions or who are seriously ill with acute conditions cannot afford the treatment they desperately need.

The survey was carried out across 11 rich nations and included 18,000 patients showing that Americans who cannot afford treatment at at least twice the rate found elsewhere. By this measure, the USA is by far the worst of the industrialised nations in which to be seriously ill.