The possible discovery of neutrinos that travel faster than the speed of light could not only change a hundred years of physics dogma, but it could make time travel possible...though one scientist comforted the world last week with the qualifier that "...it does not mean we'll be building time-machines anytime soon."
Actually, if the discovery is true, the time travel thing is already a reality, and no machine is required. Here's how: One of those fast little buggers could move not only before you observed it, but before you had reached the point in time when you even thought the thought that it could move, since we're stuck using slower particles for sight and thinking. Its now is always a past then for us, kind of like it's always out of sync with time. So it redefines our basic concepts of reality. Cool stuff that we nonscientists usually stop riffing about when we sober up after college.
So what does it have to do with branding and marketing? Let's indulge in just a few of the implications:
- Well, nothing directly. The science is simply so huge, though, that it'll have to impact it at least indirectly. Imagine if we could use the neutrinos to deliver marketing...they'd arrive at consumers' eyes before they had a chance to look, as if they'd percolated up organically (like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s implanted vacation memories in Total Recall). Anything that changes our understanding of things is going to change the way we interact with them and each other, implants or not.
- Beliefs aren't theories. Wanting Einstein to be right isn't the same thing as him being right, and scientists have been taking pot shots at his theories since the moment he published them. How many marketers today work to prove wrong the theories on which our dark science are based? Can you imagine a social theorist who's doing it? How about a branding person questioning our most fundamental assumptions, like the European scientists did of their beloved physics? We need more question-asking and less answer-defending.
- Research pays off. There's no obvious money in studying sub-atomic particles colliding in underground carousels, yet people (and funders) spend lots to do just that. It's one of the ways we discover things (practical experience being another), and anybody who argues that governments shouldn't be involved in this sort of thing is just stupid. Ditto for corporations -- whether client or agency side -- and their branding and marketing expenditures. Research pays off, eventually. Do you know where that basic research is happening these days? I don't, though a lot of the practical stuff presumes to answer the question. It doesn't.
At least two research groups have already announced plans to challenge the findings -- to prove wrong the proof of what’s wrong -- which is a beautiful thing. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if they succeed or not. Someone else will, or somebody will discover something else utterly and mind-bendingly cool.
Light 'em up!
(Image credit: Albert Einstein)