[FOM] Question about theoretical physics

Vaughan Pratt pratt at cs.stanford.edu
Sun Feb 24 01:57:36 EST 2013

On 2/22/2013 1:45 AM, Arnold Neumaier wrote:
> No. By convention, falsification in high energy physics requires a
> discrepancy of 5 times the standard deviation of the measurement errors
> (which are realizations of a random variable).

And even that conventional criterion failed in the recent case of 
faster-than-light neutrinos, where 6.2 sigma was briefly achieved,


This raises the question of whether seven sigma is any better.  The 
alleged Higgs boson so far hasn't done much better than the alleged 
faster-than-light neutrinos, raising the possibility that we're 
emotionally biased *against* FTL but *for* the Higgs boson.

Perhaps sigma is the wrong unit.

(Disclaimer: I've had exactly zero contact with Stephen Hawking on this.)

Vaughan Pratt

More information about the FOM mailing list