The "Neutrino exceed the speed of light issue" was an actual story from the day before the comic was posted. Neutrinos move faster than the speed of light!
In short, there was a CERN experiment where they shot a stream of neutrinos from CERN in Switzerland to a receiving station at the INFN laboratories of Gran Sasso in Italy (LNGS). The initial findings from the experiment were that the detector did detect them before the neutrinos could have ever gotten to Italy if they followed the cosmic speed limit.
Cueball decides instead of arguing with people about the result and preaching caution, he takes money from them in the form of a bet. Cueballs comment is, that most of these papers that are supposed to turn the world upside down end up falling apart after further investigation.
Later it was found that this was just an error. Neutrinos are not faster than light, the data was probably wrong due to an incorrectly synchronized clock or caused by some broken wiring on the receiving end.
- [Megan and Cueball are talking.]
- Megan: Did you see the neutrino speed of light thing?
- Cueball: Yup! Good news; I need the cash.
- Megan: Huh? Cash?
- (Text above half-sized panel.)
- Yeah. When there's a news story about a study overturning all of physics, I used to urge caution, remind people that experts aren't all stupid, and end up in pointless arguments about Galileo.
- (Half-height panel.)
- [Cueball sitting on chair, looking down at laptop in his lap. Books and things are on a desk in front of him.]
- Cueball: No, this isn't about whether relativity exists. If it didn't, your GPS wouldn't work. -- What do you mean, "science thought police"? Have you seen our budget? We couldn't begin to afford our own thought police.
- [Megan and Cueball talking again.]
- Megan: That sounds miserable and unfulfilling.
- Cueball: Yup. So I gave up, and now I just find excited believers and bet them $200 each that the new result won't pan out.
- [Same as last panel.]
- Megan: That's mean.
- Cueball: It provides a good income, and if I'm ever wrong, I'll be too excited about the new physics to notice the loss.
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