The New York Times has a very well done summary of what’s going. (They even include mention of the comic that Paul linked to here yesterday. Perhaps they’re reading your stuff Paul…)
The article describes the skepticism of the international physics community as it was seen during the press conference to formally announce the results yesterday:
“And the assembled CERN physicists were only too happy to oblige, diving in, after Samuel C. C. Ting, an M.I.T. Nobelist in the audience, offered his congratulations for work “very carefully done.” They asked detailed questions about, among other things, how the scientists had measured the distance from CERN to Gran Sasso to what is claimed to be an accuracy of 20 centimeters, extending GPS measurements underground. Had they, for example taken into account the location of the Moon and tidal bulges in the Earth’s crust?
The recent history of physics and astronomy is strewn with reports of suspicious data bumps that might be new particles or new planets and — if true — could change the way we think about the world, but then disappear with more data or critical scrutiny. Most physicists think the same will happen with this finding. The prevailing attitude was perhaps illustrated best by an XKCD cartoon, in which a character explains his intention to get rich betting against the new discovery.
Neutrinos are still a cosmic mystery. They are among the weirdest denizens of the weird quantum subatomic world. Not only are they virtually invisible and able to sail through walls and planets like wind through a screen door, but they are shape-shifters. They come in three varieties and can morph from one form to another as they travel along, an effect Dr. Autiero and his colleagues were trying to observe.”
I like the last ‘graph particularly. My gut says, that if this is true, there’s more to learn about neutrinos. They were first imagined by Fermi as a simple mechanism to preserve conservation laws when particles decay. Gary Steigman won the gravity prize back in the day (when I was at Bartol with him) for suggesting that they might have mass enough to close the Universe. Now we know they change flavor in flight. Weird little things.