Over on Google+ I wrote:
I’m willing to take bets that this faster-than-light neutrino business will turn out to be wrong. We can negotiate the detailed terms, the odds, and the stakes.
But beware: I’m still enjoying the case of scotch I won from David Ring. I bet there’d be no “strong evidence for supersymmetry” within the first year of operation of the Large Hadron Collider.
It took a couple of days, but I finally got someone willing to take me up on this. And—surprise!—it was none other than Frederick De Roo, one of the key contributors to the Azimuth Project.
But he’s playing for higher stakes than I’d expected:
actually I’m willing to take a bet.
I propose to bet (even though I don’t believe it) that
neutrinos can go faster than light
The loser of the bet will promise to the winner not to fly for one whole year! (for a year chosen within a specified number of years after the bet has expired)
How about that? The earth wins regardless who’s right ;-)
I asked him if we could discuss the details here, and he said okay.
It’s a tricky business. While I’ve got the odds on my side, I’ve also got more to lose!
Frederik lives in Europe, where there are lots of trains. His idea of a fun vacation is a month-long bike trip. What’s he got to lose?
I could easily survive a year of not flying to conferences. It would hurt a bit. Still, I’d say yes in a minute if it were just up to me. But Lisa and I have permanent positions at the University of California in Riverside, and we’re trying to work out a deal where we work in Singapore every summer. So, I can’t really agree to this bet unless I get her okay!
How do I convince a non-physicist—and not just any non-physicist, but my wife—that it’s really, really safe to bet a summer of being together on the possibility that neutrinos go faster than light?
We spent seven years on opposite sides of the country before she got a job at UC Riverside. We promised we’d never do something like that again. And now I’m saying “oh, don’t worry, dear: special relativity is very well tested.” If you haven’t been in this situation, you don’t know how unconvincing that sounds.
Should I look into cruises from Southern California to Singapore? How long do those take, anyway? It would be a bummer to get there only have to head straight back.
What would you say, Frederik, if I changed the the terms of the bet to something like this? If I lose the bet, for each plane trip I take during the specified year, I’ll donate $10,000 to your favorite environmental organization. Carbon offsets, or whatever you like. That way if I lose, I suffer, but not my marriage.