News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on October 2, 2011 in News

New Less Wrong posts: Rationality Drugs and Rationality Lessons Learned from Irrational Adventures in Romance.

You all know about Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist, right? Okay good, just checkin’.

Good news! Other people are continuing the Why Christianity is False series.

Back by popular demand, Richard Carrier’s one-month online course on the origins of Christianity will run again this December. At $60 it’s a steal, but it’s only $10 for students.

From Twitter:

Also. Eliezer Yudkowsky is taking bets at 99-1 odds against information propogating faster than the speed of light (as suggested by that recent study concerning neutrinos). In short, he’s betting 99-1 that reading of the experimental results is overturned, up to $20,000:
I’ll take bets at 99-to-1 odds against any information propagating faster than c. Note that this is not a bet for the results being methodologically flawed in any particular way, though I would indeed guess some simple flaw. It is just a bet that when the dust settles, it will not be possible to send signals at a superluminal velocity using whatever is going on – that there will be no propagation of any cause-and-effect relation at faster than lightspeed.
My real probability is lower, but I think that anyone who’d bet against me at 999-to-1 will probably also bet at 99-to-1, so 99-to-1 is all I’m offering.
I will not accept more than $20,000 total of such bets.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan M October 2, 2011 at 5:24 am

I saw that bet a few days ago. I’m intrigued as to how the bet will continue on.


joseph October 2, 2011 at 7:28 am

If the neutrinos were found to be taking a short cut through a different dimension at the speed of light, but travelling through our familiar dimensions marginally above c, what would that count as?


Kevin October 2, 2011 at 7:43 am

Does he have 2 million to pay off if he loses? Seems like a disincentive to bet.


Brita October 2, 2011 at 7:44 am

I am glad that I am not the only one that finds the recent study involving neutrinos to be dubious. Yudkowsky is on the mark here. He amazes me with how well he understands this topic. He is easily the equivalent of Hawking.


Ex Hypothesi October 2, 2011 at 8:40 am



Zeb October 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Where is the hot dancing chick? All I see is the deadmau5 head.


Luke Muehlhauser October 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm


Oops! Fixed the link now.


Zeb October 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm


Oops! Fixed the link now.

Oh ok, that one was linked to the original and I saw it when you posted it on Twitter. Ironically it was that same day that I saw this dubstep wizard linked on boingboing, and I thought that if my whole purpose is to be a biproduct of the evolutionary process that led up to this dance, that’s good enough. Sort of a similar sentiment. (posting this not sure if I got the html right.)


Aris Katsaris October 3, 2011 at 3:50 am

Does he have 2 million to pay off if he loses?Seems like a disincentive to bet.

He set an upper limit of 20,000$ of his money for the bet. So that’s the maximum he’ll lose if he ends up wrong on this.


Aris Katsaris October 3, 2011 at 6:24 am

In regards to the hearing video: I notice my confusion as to how she can understand English and speak it clearly, if she has never heard it before.

Prediction: This is either a fake, or just hyperbole.


Rorschach October 3, 2011 at 6:35 am

Speaking of neutrinos, The omnipresent dr.craig said its a empirical confirmation of the neo lorentzian interpretation of relativity, and thus, strongly confirms kalam.


Rorschach October 3, 2011 at 7:06 am

-Question 1 : Does the violation of c implies necessarily a fundamental frame of reference as craig says ? Is a Minkowskian interpretation sill tenable?

-Question 2: If it isnt, are there alternatives for the atheist other than hold that it was probably due to a methodological misconduct in the experiment? If lorentz is right, and A theory is true, Then the kalam seems to be sound.(Even thought that, prima facie, it doesnt necessarily implies a personal being)


Thomas October 3, 2011 at 7:50 am

Like Rorschach pointed out, the reason (some) people are willing to bet so much against these results is that they assume a Minkowskian interpretation of STR. But if Lorentz was right, then these results are what we should expect. The implication is that the only decent argument for B-theory of time is refuted. This would be a case where science confirms our intuitions about time. And as an added bonus, the kalam argument is strengthened.

But of course we have to be a bit patient here.


Gilgamesh October 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

With the neutrinos, the reason scientists are skeptical is not just because of the preferred interpretation of relativity, but also because we have a test of superluminous neutrinos from Supernova 1987A. If the neutrinos were going faster than light at the rate the CERN experiment seems to indicate, then those neutrinos would have reached the Earth years before the light did. Since that did not happen, this is a strong experiment against the interpretation that we have produced tachyons. (Do note, the neutrinos of 1987A actually were detected minutes before the light, but this is because the neutrinos were able to pass through the dust cloud of the collapsing star while the light could not do this as easily; neutrinos barely interact, so they can pass through lead like ghosts.)

So, we have theoretical precedent as well as an astrophysical observation in support of neutrinos not going faster than light. Also, neutrinos moving faster than light would have imaginary masses (since they have non-zero mass), so they are even more nutty.


Rorschach October 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm

With the neutrinos, the reason scientists are skeptical is not just because of the preferred interpretation of relativity, but also because we have a test of superluminous neutrinos from Supernova 1987A

Can you give me a link?


joseph October 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm
Forrest October 3, 2011 at 6:58 pm

The article by William Lane Craig raises some interesting questions. First, if neutrinos traveling faster than light confirms Craig’s interpretation of time, wouldn’t it have to be the case that neutrinos failing to travel faster than light provides evidence against Craig’s interpretation? Most physicists seem pretty certain that the experiment will be overturned and the prevailing view of special relativity will remain intact; if this happens will Craig be intellectually honest enough to admit that this provides empirical evidence against his interpretation of time and that the interpretations are no longer as he put it experimentally equivalent? Or does he think evidence is a one way street?

It should also be noted, that anybody can look back after the experiment has been performed and say the result is just what their special theory allegedly predicts, but if someone had asked Craig to predict the result of the experiment before hand, would he have confidently predicted that scientists “will observe neutrinos traveling faster than light because that is what the Lorenz interpretation predicts and if the result comes back otherwise, this is solid evidence against Lorenz”? Maybe someone can uncover him saying such a thing before hand, but I have my doubts.


Gilgamesh October 3, 2011 at 11:36 pm

@ Rorschach

This is mentioned by Sean Carroll and Phil Plait on their blogs:

I had first learned about the neutrino detection from SN 1987A in one of my grad astro-particle classes.

I should also mentioned that the link to Dr. Craig’s response to the news seems to have a flaw. If neutrinos were shown to be superluminous, then instead of light cones we could be using neutrino cones and still have a special relativity. Carroll discusses this in another blog post:


Reginald Selkirk October 4, 2011 at 6:33 am

I will not accept more than $20,000 total of such bets

I remember when I was young; for playground bets we would always choose an impossible value, like a million dollars (this was in the pre-Dr. Evil days), so that it would seem ridiculous that we would ever be held accountable for the sum.


slappy October 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Have any empirical studies been done on hot chicks to see if they are impressed by dudes who have optimized their dating/relationship “algorithms”. I asked I few of the hotter chicks (the ones who wear underwear as their clothes, rather than under their clothes) here at asu, and they didn’t seem to care. If souping up my dating/relationship “algorithms” doesn’t get me the super-hot chicks, I want some other “algorithm” that works on the hot ones.

Is Yud acting as his own bookie for these bets? Seems a neutral third party should hold the bets, or else Yud might welch, or Yud may have to go around breaking peoples legs if they don’t pay up. All of this could be avoided if handled by one of the gambling agents in vegas.


Da Beef October 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

How’d that talk at Halcyon Molecular go?
Where the video?


joseph October 15, 2011 at 3:55 am

Looks like relativity is safe:,2011://3.83661&fullPageURL=/archives/2011/10/speedy-neutrino.php

Also stupid joke:

The barman said “no charge”.

A Neutrino walked into a bar and ordered a drink


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