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Sascha VongehrRSS Feed of this column.

Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙], physicist and philosopher, studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory) at Sussex University... Read More »

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There is a widespread antipathy against Many World and Multiverse concepts, especially if the latter come with Extra Dimensions. But these concepts are self-evident and always were to me, even before knowing any physics, let alone quantum physics. Many Worlds and the Multiverse are obvious because nothing else can make sense. So is the expectation of there being probably extra dimensions: “Teacher, why only three?” I remember sketching four dimensional water melon slices in order to figure that one out.

There is a widespread misconception which is repeated often these days in the aftermath of the OPERA collaboration’s confirmation of faster than light neutrinos. The misconception is easily stated:


“Tachyons, if they actually exist, have imaginary mass, … blah blah blah … therefore OPERA is wrong!”


Let us explain what this means in layman’s terms, then see how this argument fails, and afterward discuss that it is one example for a common logical fallacy that basically underpins all the arguments against the OPERA results that we encountered recently.

Fresh results from the OPERA collaboration once more confirm the faster than light neutrinos indicated by MINOS. The new findings, available here, also further strengthen a particular scenario: The neutrinos do not travel with superluminal velocity all the way. They only ‘jump’ a small initial distance shorter than 20 meters, after which they settle back and travel as usual with speeds below that of the speed of light. This initial jump would occur at speeds that are more than ten times the speed of light, perhaps even millions of times the speed of light.

Precognition (from the Latin præ-,“before,” + cognitio, “acquiring knowledge”), is usually filed under esoteric pseudoscience. There are scientific articles on precognition, but pointing this out often results in the rare admission that scientific journals’ peer review can be flawed badly, so badly that complete nonsense gets all the way through the long process. The latter is very true but seldom admitted. All this is a cultural phenomenon, a question of belonging; naïve scientism wants to lynch you for mentioning clairvoyance but discussing time travel is fine, go figure.


Ray Hyman, a noted critic (!) of anything paranormal, remarked:

In 2011, science has been confronted with several high profile awkward situations of having to explain why standard methods like classical significance analysis are acceptable in for example medical studies on the safety of a new vaccine but not when results put orthodoxy into doubt. The most infamous among them is the 6 sigma significance of the OPERA confirmation of previously by MINOS indicated faster than light neutrinos. Second place: evidence for precognition in a work [1] that abides by all the usual scientific methods and passed peer review in a top tier journal.

UHFF stands for Ultra-High Field Facility. The project is at times confused with the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), which includes three other experiments apart from UHFF. The total bill is $1.6 billion Euros (as of now).


ELI Hungary – one of four locations in the total ELI project.