Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Featured I What false hints of new physics were most notable?

  1. Apr 19, 2018 #21


    Staff: Mentor

    This one?
    Corresponding search at CMS - with a slight undershoot at 240 GeV and 700 GeV.
    Just a statistical fluctuation.

    Both experiments now have a bit more than twice these datasets recorded, but updates are not very likely before late 2018 or 2019 (then using the full run 2 dataset).
  2. Apr 19, 2018 #22
    But despite your excellent analysis, it was widely reported at the time, and so should remain on the list.
  3. Apr 19, 2018 #23
    I'd like to include: 1. Magnetic monopoles and 2. Proton decay
  4. Apr 19, 2018 #24


    Staff: Mentor

    Where were the false hints?
  5. Apr 20, 2018 #25
    I don't know of any hints of proton decay. But there are several claims of monopole detection.

    In the '70's Price claimed the observation of a monopole in cosmic rays. Alverez proposed it was actually the decay chain of a platinum nucleus and Price retracted his claim. In the '80's Cabrera claimed the "Valentines Day Monopole." His result hasn't been reproduced.

    And Sheldon Cooper claimed to have observed monopoles at the North Pole, but the "data" was his colleagues switching a can opener on and off.
  6. Apr 20, 2018 #26
    That's oversimplified. Vulcan (hypothetical planet) - Wikipedia has more detail on this hypothetical intra-Mercurian planet. Over much of the nineteenth century, several astronomers claimed to have observed some intra-Mercurian planet transit across the Sun, and some astronomers claimed to have seen it in total solar eclipses. However, it was hard to get a coherent orbit out of those observations, and many astronomers were not successful in making similar observations. So by the late 19th cy., astronomers had become skeptical about its existence, and some astronomers started speculating about modifying the law of gravity.

    Einstein's General Relativity was, it must be admitted, a modified-gravity theory.
  7. Apr 25, 2018 #27
    most notable were the hidden dimensions.. Lisa Randall RS1 AND RS2 were nowhere to be found..

    also the so called subquarks (preons).. is it not LHC has cornered them to almost non-existence? since ohwilleke claimed to haved authored Preon entry in the wikipedia.. could he give us insight into the subquark side of it?
  8. Apr 25, 2018 #28


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I'd chime in on that topic in another thread, but it is off topic in this one.
  9. Apr 25, 2018 #29
    Some people here are misunderstanding the original question. One person said that faster than light travel should be included in a list of things physicists initially believed but were later disproved because it was "widely reported", including a newspaper headline that said "Roll Over Einstein". That should not be your criterion. A lot of crazy stuff is "widely reported". It was "widely reported" that an astronaut's DNA changed.


    Or other silly nonsense such as you can read here.


    Other people misinterpreted the original question to mean "things predicted by current theories that have not yet been observed because they are very difficult to detect". One person included proton decay, even though if you include supersymmetry, the lifetime of the proton would be 10^23 years, so it would extremely difficult to distinguish from the background so you would not expect a five sigma discovery. Another person mentioned extra dimensions. Well obviously, extra dimensions, predicted by string theory, have not been ruled out. They would be very difficult to detect. The earliest simplest version of the Randall Sundrum Braneworld model was just a starting point for later more advanced realistic models in the same way than Alan Guth's earliest model of inflationary cosmology, which he knew could not be literally true in its earliest form, was superseded by more realistic models which are now assumed to be true. Braneworld cosmology remains an active vibrant arena for current research. The fact that we have not directly detected extra dimensions yet is not surprising because they would be very difficult to detect. There are lots of things that are predicted but have not yet been observed, but have not yet been ruled out. We have not yet detected neutrinoless double beta decay, but that's not surprising because it would very difficult to detect.

    The original question was not asking for examples that were always known to be wrong, or are not yet known to be wrong, but instead examples that were initially thought to be not wrong but were later proven to be wrong.
  10. May 1, 2018 #30


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Another one, although not a very famous one: The hyperfine puzzle in Bismuth-209.

    The observed hyperfine splitting in a Bismuth-209 atom stripped of all but one of its electrons was 7 sigma from the QED prediction for its hyperfine splitting (i.e. basically the gaps between different discrete energy states of the electron).


    Because the QED prediction overlooked a factor that turned out to be important.

  11. May 2, 2018 #31
    This proves only that faster than light travel or communication is impossible according to existing, established theory. It cannot, even in principle, prove that the experiment was wrong. The question was about experiments which suggested new physics.

    By the way, your links do not even establish that it is incompatible with established physics, but only with established metaphysics. So,
    http://www.askamathematician.com/2012/07/q-how-does-instantaneous-communication-violate-causality/ writes:

    "But, if you accept the basic tenet of relativity, that everything no matter how it’s moving is on equal footing, then one person’s instantaneous signal is merely traveling very fast to someone else, or even slightly backward in time to another someone else." But, sorry, this means "if you accept the metaphysics of the spacetime interpretation of SR and reject, for whatever reasons, the Lorentz ether interpretation of the same SR".

    No. It would give this possibility only if there is no preferred frame. The FTL communication would have a preferred frame, and therefore violate the equivalence principle. But so what? In the strong form - that there is no real difference - it is a metaphysical belief. In the weaker, physical form there is no observable effect which allows to distinguish them. But new physics could give new observable effects which would allow to distinguish them. The FTL communication would be simply new physics, and give us an observational possibility to identify a preferred frame which is now hidden from observation.
    The only meaningless statement would be a combination of "there exists FTL communication" and "there is nothing violating Lorentz symmetry".

    So, the superluminal neutrinos have their place in the list.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?