Tuesday, April 03, 2012

OPERA Leaders Step Down

Heads are already rolling as the consequence of the OPERA result debacle. Both its science coordinator and its spokeperson have stepped down from their positions within the OPERA collaboration.

“We have now an indication [along] that line,” says Dario Autiero of the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Lyons, France, and, until last week, OPERA's physics coordinator.

Autiero resigned from the collaboration on 30 March, a day after OPERA spokesman Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern. The moves followed months of internal tension and media leaks and, last week, votes of no confidence in Ereditato and Autiero by OPERA’s collaboration board, which consists of representatives from its member institutions.
One needs to be clear here in that (i) there is no deliberate manipulation of results and (ii) the issue here isn't the report on what appears to be an erroneous result. Wrong results are reported often in science. That isn't the issue. The issue here is how this was handled, and how it was reported. Anyone can see that reporting a result such as this would create quite a stir and quite a sensation, especially in the media and the general public. Things can get out of proportion very quickly with something like this.

So the criticism here is directed at the publicity surrounding the announcement. It is no different than the media circus surrounding the Fleishmann and Pons "cold fusion" announcement. Unfortunately, the OPERA result might suffer from the same fate as that infamous "discovery".


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