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Old 01-23-2019, 04:45 PM   #1
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Blow Everyone else's Dough

A NY TImes opinion article discusses the cost and benefit (note singular) of the Large Hadron Collider operated by CERN.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/o...n=Contributors

Long ago in a thread I can't remember I commented roughly: Smashing particles together at high energy levels to learn about the universe is akin to dropping pianos from the 10th floor in an attempt to learn and to play music. Yes, notes will produced, hardly a good way to learn music or to become a musician.

Now the particle physicists are proposing to build an even bigger 10 Billion collider bonndoggle. There are several gems to note in the article.

Cost 5 Billion, annual operating cost about 1 Billion and found: The Higgs boson. Nothing else of any significance...
The author formerly working at CERN writes:

"In 2012, experiments at the L.H.C. confirmed the discovery of the Higgs boson — a prediction that dates back to the 1960s — and it remains the only discovery made at the L.H.C. Particle physicists are quick to emphasize that they have learned other things: For example, they now have better knowledge about the structure of the proton, and they’ve seen new (albeit unstable) composite particles. But let’s be honest: It’s disappointing."

"Before the L.H.C. started operation, particle physicists had more exciting predictions than that. They thought that other new particles would also appear near the energy at which the Higgs boson could be produced. They also thought that the L.H.C. would see evidence for new dimensions of space. They further hoped that this mammoth collider would deliver clues about the nature of dark matter (which astrophysicists think constitutes 85 percent of the matter in the universe) or about a unified force."

"
The stories about new particles, dark matter and additional dimensions were repeated in countless media outlets from before the launch of the L.H.C. until a few years ago. What happened to those predictions? The simple answer is this: Those predictions were wrong — that much is now clear.
The trouble is, a “prediction” in particle physics is today little more than guesswork. (In case you were wondering, yes, that’s exactly why I left the field.)"
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:57 PM   #2
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How do I get a job as one of these particle physicists?
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Old 01-23-2019, 05:37 PM   #3
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I think a problem with fundamental research is it's hard to know the value until long after. Lasers were pretty "useless" for a long time as was a lot of the internet.

Of course much of it will never yield anything but how do you know in advance?

Of course you could argue that we shouldn't do fundamental research that is funded by the public but I think historically the benefit is really big.

I also think you have to compare stuff like the LHC with OTHER spending. There's a lot of military equipment that was never used and now costs a fortune to store. But then maybe the utility of that is in what didn't happen?
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Old 01-23-2019, 05:38 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ls99 View Post
A NY TImes opinion article discusses the cost and benefit (note singular) of the Large Hadron Collider operated by CERN.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/o...n=Contributors

Long ago in a thread I can't remember I commented roughly: Smashing particles together at high energy levels to learn about the universe is akin to dropping pianos from the 10th floor in an attempt to learn and to play music. Yes, notes will produced, hardly a good way to learn music or to become a musician.

Now the particle physicists are proposing to build an even bigger 10 Billion collider bonndoggle. There are several gems to note in the article.

Cost 5 Billion, annual operating cost about 1 Billion and found: The Higgs boson. Nothing else of any significance...
The author formerly working at CERN writes:

"In 2012, experiments at the L.H.C. confirmed the discovery of the Higgs boson — a prediction that dates back to the 1960s — and it remains the only discovery made at the L.H.C. Particle physicists are quick to emphasize that they have learned other things: For example, they now have better knowledge about the structure of the proton, and they’ve seen new (albeit unstable) composite particles. But let’s be honest: It’s disappointing."

"Before the L.H.C. started operation, particle physicists had more exciting predictions than that. They thought that other new particles would also appear near the energy at which the Higgs boson could be produced. They also thought that the L.H.C. would see evidence for new dimensions of space. They further hoped that this mammoth collider would deliver clues about the nature of dark matter (which astrophysicists think constitutes 85 percent of the matter in the universe) or about a unified force."

"
The stories about new particles, dark matter and additional dimensions were repeated in countless media outlets from before the launch of the L.H.C. until a few years ago. What happened to those predictions? The simple answer is this: Those predictions were wrong — that much is now clear.
The trouble is, a “prediction” in particle physics is today little more than guesswork. (In case you were wondering, yes, that’s exactly why I left the field.)"
Our 800,000 federal workers are out of work or working unpaid and these guys get paid to do this?
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Old 01-23-2019, 05:41 PM   #5
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Long ago in a thread I can't remember I commented roughly: Smashing particles together at high energy levels to learn about the universe is akin to dropping pianos from the 10th floor in an attempt to learn and to play music. Yes, notes will produced, hardly a good way to learn music or to become a musician.
As someone with post-graduate training in physics, I can tell you that your analogy about dropping pianos to learn to play music is way off the mark. Physicists have learned staggering amounts about the fundamental nature of the universe and its most basic particles and forces through the experiments done over the past several decades at various high energy particle colliders. The LHC may be somewhat of a disappointment (and that's debatable... I'm sure you'd get a wide range of opinions if you polled many physicists), but there's no doubt that particle colliders in general have been incredibly productive tools for learning about the fundamental particles and forces that make up our world.

It's always going to cost lots of money to build extraordinarily powerful and complicated experimental devices. The LHC is the most complex machine ever built by man, and its construction and operation costs were (and are) borne by many countries and institutions. Over 70% of its budget comes from various countries in Europe. You could always argue that such massive, expensive scientific research projects are not a good use of money that could otherwise be spent on, say, reducing global poverty or funding school lunch programs, etc. But you could make that argument about any large expenditure of money in any circumstance. Big advances in science and technology are going to require big investments. Some may pay off, others not so much, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect them to cease due to cost concerns. My two cents.
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Old 01-23-2019, 06:44 PM   #6
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A billion dollars is about $3 per American, less if averaged over all countries cooperating. Compared to other obvious waste, I don't see this as worth whining about.
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Old 01-23-2019, 07:02 PM   #7
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As someone with post-graduate training in physics, I can tell you that your analogy about dropping pianos to learn to play music is way off the mark. Physicists have learned staggering amounts about the fundamental nature of the universe and its most basic particles and forces through the experiments done over the past several decades at various high energy particle colliders. The LHC may be somewhat of a disappointment (and that's debatable... I'm sure you'd get a wide range of opinions if you polled many physicists), but there's no doubt that particle colliders in general have been incredibly productive tools for learning about the fundamental particles and forces that make up our world.

It's always going to cost lots of money to build extraordinarily powerful and complicated experimental devices. The LHC is the most complex machine ever built by man, and its construction and operation costs were (and are) borne by many countries and institutions. Over 70% of its budget comes from various countries in Europe. You could always argue that such massive, expensive scientific research projects are not a good use of money that could otherwise be spent on, say, reducing global poverty or funding school lunch programs, etc. But you could make that argument about any large expenditure of money in any circumstance. Big advances in science and technology are going to require big investments. Some may pay off, others not so much, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect them to cease due to cost concerns. My two cents.
Agree that fundamental science is good and has many long term benefits.

I spent 14 years doing tech w*rk for oceanographers, but most of it for geophysicists as well as bunch of other physicists, lost count after a while of all the learned folks. Dozens of papers were published as result of my technical creations and subsequent masses of data collected. Seen up close and personally much of the good and the ugly of scientists and of science.

To build a $10 billion hole in the ground hoping to find one more thing IMHO is digging the hole deeper. Anotherwords, I agree with the opinion piece writer, she has inside information and is well qualified in the field.
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Old 01-23-2019, 07:40 PM   #8
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By the thread title, I thought this discussion would be about welfare recipients who refuse to find a job.
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Old 01-23-2019, 07:50 PM   #9
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How do I get a job as one of these particle physicists?
I have this question too! In Geneva. Sounds good to me!


The other thing I don't think was mentioned in the article was that someone was afraid that there was a small chance (trillionth of a percent) that they'd create some exotic particle that would act like a black hole and eat the earth. Or was that just an April Fools joke?
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Old 01-23-2019, 07:54 PM   #10
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To build a $10 billion hole in the ground hoping to find one more thing IMHO is digging the hole deeper. Anotherwords, I agree with the opinion piece writer, she has inside information and is well qualified in the field.
I chose applied science, i.e. engineering, because pure science goes down this rocky political road for funding. I like pure science, but not the funding crap that goes along with it.

I'm also of the opinion that certain hot topics that are science based have become way too political to the point of squelching dissent. Never a good thing with science which should constantly be poking at the status quo thought.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:03 PM   #11
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The LHC is just one. Isn't most of NASA's space research welfare for astronomers. Do we just not see the tangible results from the Space Station? I don't know if government funds SETI or not but I can see the first conversation

Hello, 60 years later Hi, 60 years later Who is this, 60 years later. Well you get the idea. Yea it would be news, but what difference does it make!

The problem is when does pure research turn into 'A better life/planet'. Will the LHC eventually lead to a star trek replicator?

I watch Curiosity Stream several times a week. I find them interesting, but I often wonder who pays the people that are crawling on there hands and knees is some remote rain forest to discover a new bug.

OK, at 76, I really don't worry a lot about this stuff. I would rather have private interprise and charitable groups pay for this stuff, than government taxes.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Sojourner View Post
As someone with post-graduate training in physics, I can tell you that your analogy about dropping pianos to learn to play music is way off the mark. Physicists have learned staggering amounts about the fundamental nature of the universe and its most basic particles and forces through the experiments done over the past several decades at various high energy particle colliders. The LHC may be somewhat of a disappointment (and that's debatable... I'm sure you'd get a wide range of opinions if you polled many physicists), but there's no doubt that particle colliders in general have been incredibly productive tools for learning about the fundamental particles and forces that make up our world.

It's always going to cost lots of money to build extraordinarily powerful and complicated experimental devices. The LHC is the most complex machine ever built by man, and its construction and operation costs were (and are) borne by many countries and institutions. Over 70% of its budget comes from various countries in Europe. You could always argue that such massive, expensive scientific research projects are not a good use of money that could otherwise be spent on, say, reducing global poverty or funding school lunch programs, etc. But you could make that argument about any large expenditure of money in any circumstance. Big advances in science and technology are going to require big investments. Some may pay off, others not so much, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect them to cease due to cost concerns. My two cents.
Thanks for spelling that out!
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:38 PM   #13
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Where I live we HAD the super collider. They shut the project down because it was going to cost too much to complete. Wound up costing more to shut it down than the projected price to complete.
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Old 01-24-2019, 04:14 AM   #14
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How do I get a job as one of these particle physicists?
Well, I'd say start by getting a Phd in Particle Physics. Then get back to us, and we'll tell you about the next step.
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Old 01-24-2019, 05:16 AM   #15
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Well, I'd say start by getting a Phd in Particle Physics. Then get back to us, and we'll tell you about the next step.
But, but, "Mom said I can do anything!" So I just want it, OK?

What's this Phd you speak of? Sounds like a lot of work. Takes a few months, right?

Joking, of course, maybe channeling my best teenager.

Seriously, the second reason I didn't go pure science is because of the Phd. It is pretty much required. I applaud anyone who gets one in these disciplines. The process is not easy. My cousin took 9 years to get his Phd in astronomy. Not atypical.

We need pure science research and unfortunately, private enterprise won't support it anymore. So, politics get into the thick of it. The challenge is not do we do "it," the challenge is what is the "it" to do? Sometimes you have to stop. It took a millennia or two for the kings to finally give up on their alchemists.
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Old 01-24-2019, 05:54 AM   #16
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I agree with Sojourner and others that pure scientific research has immense value for the world. Applied research is where the big bucks get made but fundamental research lays the groundwork for advances. Likening the LHC to dropping pianos from buildings reminds me of the argument that the evolution of life is like a 747 assembling itself from a scrap heap of parts by pure chance. A cute image but not a good analogy.
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:53 PM   #17
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Perhaps build one less carrier?

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/22/ford...ogy-costs.html
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Old 01-25-2019, 07:39 PM   #18
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Well, I'd say start by getting a Phd in Particle Physics. Then get back to us, and we'll tell you about the next step.
Guess I chose the wrong career path and went into engineering, got the degree and an MBA in finance. Of course, working in industry making stuff people actually need and use is not as financially rewarding as being a particle scientist! It sounds like the cushy and high paying jobs are those which don't have an earnings element to them.
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Old 01-25-2019, 08:24 PM   #19
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Wait, does this mean Congress was right to defund the Superconducting Super Collider? To borrow from The Andromeda Strain, "Congratulate them on their scientific insight!"
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Blow Everyone else's Dough
Old 01-27-2019, 03:53 PM   #20
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Blow Everyone else's Dough

Without “particle physics”, you’d be arguing via pen and paper...

Last few years at Big Chip, we had to arm wrestle for time/equipment, because “production”. Which I totally get; someone has to pay the bills. But that “production” is something R&D was w*rking on three years ago...
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