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Decisions at the Speed of a Neutrino

October 4, 2011

Have you heard about the researchers at CERN who announced recently that they conducted an experiment in which neutrinos (subatomic particles) traveled faster than light?  To be precise – approximately 60-billionth of a second faster than light.  Their discovery, although yet to be confirmed with absolute certainty, has thrown physicists into a tizzy due to the implications it would have in connection to Einstein’s theory of special relativity which holds that the speed of light is constant and that as objects speed up, time slows down.  This physics stuff, which makes my brain itch, is what allows us to suspend our disbelief when watching Terra Nova.

Now I can’t travel through time. Although, truth be told, were I to have super powers magically bestowed upon me, I think time travel might be the one I would choose.  Because sometimes it might be advantageous to move back in time and find oneself at the critical junction point where a decision was made/not-made.

Every day we ponder cause-and-effect and make decisions based on what we believe will be the outcomes.  But let’s face it – we’re trying to make predictions.  Ideally we’re projecting outcomes and making the appropriate decisions based on evidence and experience.  But we know we can’t ever predict with certainty; there are just too many variables that get thrown at us along the way to our ending point.

So at what sort of future point in time would I wish I could be a neutrino and move backwards?

  • The resulting outcome was not as predicted.  What did I miss?  Did I neglect the gathering of some info as I ramped up to my decision?   If I were able to go back in time to some planning phases it’s entirely possible I would find I didn’t look at the entire scope of the issue.
  • There’s an “If only I had done this…” moment.  Did I, at some stage in the decision process, second guess myself?  Perhaps I had access to data, evidence or observations which I discounted?  If I have the “only if” moment, it’s probable that I considered and discarded options and now I find myself second-guessing my second-guesses.
  • There’s a “Why didn’t we listen to Sally and do X…?” moment.  At the time of results evaluation or during a take-charge step along the way, if I’m hit by the memory that I disregarded another person’s ideas or input, I may have to ask myself why I did so. It’s entirely likely I didn’t accept Sally’s ideas because she couldn’t provide a compelling case, but it’s also possible I disregarded them because it was Sally.  At which case I need to do some thinking.


So I may not be able to go back in time and set right the world’s wrongs.  I can’t go back and kill Hitler nor am I going to bring my iPhone to the cavemen and wow them with technology.  I probably won’t even be able to go back and adjust my HS Chemistry grades from the basement (where they resided) to higher ground.

But it might be nice to travel backwards with the neutrinos and make some critical adjustments at various past decision points.

And maybe do some stock trading.

One Comment leave one →
  1. HRBR permalink
    October 4, 2011 3:30 pm

    two thumbs up!

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