Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Experiments and Results

 We researchers do experiments and evaluations all the time. Most of the time, these don't give us the results that we wish for. For example, if we design a computer system that can recognize pretty girls by monitoring a camera, it will also recognize several grandmas as pretty girls :-p.

We usually have two choices when this happens. If we are a professor, we can refuse to let our students go on vacation until they improve the results. If we are not, we tinker with the system until the results are more acceptable.

However, there are some occasions where we get really good results. This is supposed to be good, but it actually freaks us out. Most of the time, such good results are a sign of a silly mistake during the experiment, or forgetting to consider something very basic.

A good example of this is the recent news about neutrinos traveling faster than light. Now they have found that they have forgotten that the GPS satellites are moving objects (oh well, it is not like they are rotating around our heads and we see that all the time. Can't blame anyone for forgetting that :-p).

If you are the Einstein-aware type, you can read about the neutrino mystery here:
http://dvice.com/archives/2011/10/speedy-neutrino.php

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