I told someone yesterday that I hate neutrinos and it’s true. Always have. Remind me of rats loose in the house. Can’t catch ’em, can’t keep ’em out, can’t even play with them. Just a waste of time; multi-mega-nanos of seconds spent chasing their evil darting paths into new hiding places. Quick little buggers they are, neutrinos
Um, quicker than we thought. With a ‘rest mass’ of a couple mere electron volts, they shouldn’t even be able to fly as fast as photons; at the speed of light, (or as I prefer, the speed of reality)
But, as even those living under bridges have certainly heard these past few days, fly they do, and faster than the light in a vacuum. (*ed- for those of you who have the Pro-suck™ model with the handy night-light on the front-)
Everybody seems to have something to say about the discovery; pronouncements with various levels of enlightenment and clarity. Crackpots have declared a national holiday, and are using the preliminary findings from CERN to ‘prove’ the ‘I told you so!’of any pet gadget they happen to be selling to the unwary.
But this is a cookbook, (sorry), and so here is my culinary comment, ‘both interesting and ‘original‘, with all the perils thus implied. It’s not a ‘thought experiment, like EPR or Shroedinger’s Cat (originally) were. More like the Alain Aspect trials where skilled constructors actually get down on hands and knees to solve questions (in that case the truth of the Bell Inequality Theorem) (Lots of stuff to Google there, fascinating nights of reading when you should be doing your homework or taking the cat out for a walk)
So the folks at CERN and St. Gasso(? wherever) measured the Time of Flight of bursts of neutrinos and found that the little eunuch rats arrived in the French cave faster than light. Only 60 nanoseconds, but today, a nanosecond isn’t some unbelievably short interval, impossible to measure. The GPS on your cheap phone measures ’em every time you get lost going to the mall, and I fight with nanosecond switching times on transistors every day.
So what does this have to do with food?
Answer: Lots. Your Mom makes all kinds of dishes; some you like, some you detest. And if you just had a way to know she was brewing up that evil Cilantro-Eggplant Meringue Surprise Goulash ‘before’ she started, well, you could take measures. Some sharp knives in the third drawer from the left. (not to give you any ideas…)
But unfortunately, information travels, at best, at the speed of light. In fact, for sanity’s sake, Special Relativity absolutely condemns info to heed the cosmic speed limit.
But now we have a breakthrough. And break on through we shall. Just follow the following instructions.
The CERN/ OPERA experiments (all 16000+ of them) used a distance from the kitchen to the dining room table of 732 kilometers (+/- eight inches) No tunnel was needed; neutrinos blast through light-years of solid lead like rats through an open door.
Now some arithmetic:
Light/info travels 299,792,458 meters each second. Doesn’t ever stop for gas or to piss. And so it makes the trip from Switzerland to France in about 2.44 thousandths of a second. Not a lot of elapsed time, but long enough for your mom to commit her cutting hand’s atrophied muscles to slicing the first eggplant, and by then you’re dead meat.
But the neutrinos, though, (you know, the ones created by the beta decay of her aging brain cells during the planning stage), get to your table 60 nano-seconds earlier than the light in the kitchen. Sixty thousandth’s of a millionth of a second. Not a lot of help. Like getting a death sentence moved from 6:00 AM to 6:30 AM. No, what we need is enough warning time so that we can get the f*ck out of harm’s way ‘before’ the die has been cast over there in the kitchen. Smells like time travel, and it truly is, speaking of killing yer mom.
So how far apart must we be till the neutrinos’ speedy flight would enable them to relay us the news before the event even happened? We’d then be able to fire the LASER beam (*not included) at Mommy Dearest, or at least at her dumb vegetables, frying her, or them to an inedible crisp.
Well, again, math to the rescue. The average diameter of the Earth is about 12,735 kilometers. (dig a hole straight down through the kitchen floor and when you come out the other side of the world, that’s how far from home you’ve wandered, so to speak. Now this number is a little more than 17 times as far as the CERN’s baseline. That means that their 60 nanosecond head-start, after you dug your hole, of course, is multiplied to a healthy 1020 nanoseconds. Whew, we can even go back to more graspable units, like calling it one microsecond + change. All the difference in the world. Even my old 6502 computer boards, working with a 2 Mhz clock, sat around and played with their private parts waiting for a whole microsecond to go by. Plenty of time now to fire the laser and kill the beast.
So, bottom line, what does this Apocalypse look like?
Well, you carefully ready and aim the laser, and watch the neutrino-detector (just out of curiosity; everything’s electronically-switched) with one eye and with the other, your doomed Mom, who has no idea of the excellent trick we about to play on her. Hmm, she’s dicking around at the counter, a cartoon light-bulb above her head hinting: “Yeah, that’s what I’ll make for dinner!”
Don’t forget that your light-conveyed info about her reality is lagging her space-time world (if she even has one) by about six hundreths of a second. Now if you hadn’t sprung for Johnny’s Neutro-Goulash-killer you’d be up a crick. You’d helplessly watch her start the ‘food-preparation’ and that’d be it. Hung at dawn. But wait! The neutrino-buzzer sounds, triggers the laser and Kablooie! You smugly watch your hapless mom going for the knife just as the fireworks demolish her best-laid plan. Later, after the smoke has cleared, she’ll likely yell down the hole: “Now how’d you know what I had on the menu, Buster?” Don’t answer that question. It would violate the Time Traveller’s Rules of Order. Just calmly say “Lucky guess, Mom. Hey, what’s for supper?”
Yes, I of course do herein propose and support a Long Baseline setup of the Neutrino excursion project. The receiving station must simply have enough time to send back its own neutrino burst in time for the transmitting facility to cancel the original sending of the initial neutrinos. Voila, we will then have nicely killed our own Mom, metaphorically speaking. Good work, little neutered ones. This may be the start of a changed relationship between us. JS/ Tel Aviv.
Wu: So that’s why you bought those two shovels?
Me: Yeah, Tel Aviv’s antipode falls right in the middle of the South Pacific. About as far as you can get from Chile and New Zealand.
Wu: Ha, your Mom know how to swim, if she falls in?
Me: No, but don’t let on. Be just like her to take lessons while we dig.
Wu: While ‘we’ dig?
Me: Sure, two shovels. We buddies, right.
Wu: Um.. just keep the second one as a spare. Never know what might happen down there.
Me: Ok, fine. I’ll get Albert to help…