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Why SpaceX Won't Turn Us Into A Multi-planetary Species

Anyone announcing the successful sale of tourist trips around the moon would attract ridicule and...

Rational Suckers

Why do people skip queues, cause traffic jams, and create delays for everyone? Who are these misbehaving ...

Triple Or Bust: Paradox Resolved

A few days ago I discussed the coin toss game ‘triple or bust‘. The game is between Alice and...

Paradox: Triple Or Bust

Today I have a decision problem for you....

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Johannes KoelmanRSS Feed of this column.

I am a Dutchman, currently living in India. Following a PhD in theoretical physics (spin-polarized quantum systems*) I entered a Global Fortune 500 company where I am currently Chief Scientist

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It is approaching fast. And it is big. The next NEO (Near-Earth Object) encounter that is. This Tuesday, a 400 m (1,300 ft) diameter rock, known as 2005 YU55, will pass by earth at a distance that is from astronomical perspective truly minuscule: 0.00217 AU. In a solar system that stretches more than 80 AU in diameter, that is less than a hair width. Such close encounters for objects of this size are expected to occur no more than a few times per century. 



Earth, keep starboard - we are going to pass!
You are in a game with one hundred other players. They don't know you, you don't know them, and you can not communicate with any of them. The game is called 'even/odd(s)' and is explained to you as follows:

"You have the choice between two selections: 'even' or 'odd'. The hundred other contestants face the same choice. You all make your choice simultaneously. If the total group of players select an even number of 'evens' and an odd number of 'odds', those who selected 'odd' will receive $3, and those who selected 'even' will receive $4. However, if the result amounts to an odd number of 'evens' and an even number of 'odds', no-one will receive a penny. Now go ahead and make a choice!"

What is your choice?
So what is the deal with this 'cosmic speed limit'? Is it really unthinkable that neutrinos move faster than light? 
Wow, those folks in Stockholm do pay attention to this blog. With a delay of a year (ok, you are forgiven, graphene is cute stuff after all), one half of the ten million kronor goes to SAUL PERLMUTTER and the other half jointly to BRIAN SCHMIDT and ADAM RIESS.

Exactly as I instructed them.

Bravo Nobel committee. And congratulations Saul, Brian and Adam, well deserved!



Saul Perlmutter receiving a call from Stockholm.
Credit: Paul Sakuma


Do you believe neutrinos can exceed the universal speed limit of 299792.458 km/s? Be careful before you respond with "yes". Rumor has it that the set of all people who believe superluminal speeds have indeed been observed in the OPERA experiment is disjoint from the set of all people who have a deep understanding of relativity. (Which doesn't imply that any person unconvinced by the OPERA results necessarily understands relativity.)



Has the universal speed limit been violated?
 
Last time I blogged, I discussed entropic gravity and ended with the prediction that we will witness some more opposing and supportive views on entropic gravity before the dust will settle on the subject. The moment I wrote these words, a critical article on Verlinde's entropic gravity idea appeared, soon followed by a an article that brushes aside all earlier entropic gravity criticism based on neutron experiments.