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    Physicists Demand LHC Shut Down After Higgs And Higgs Nonsense
    By Sascha Vongehr | July 4th 2012 02:44 AM | 47 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

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    The Higgs boson has been discovered last year. There is no news today. It is merely the significance level that is a little higher now, but even a level of so called “five sigma” (don’t worry if you do not understand it, it is arbitrary anyway) does not prove anything. The faster than light neutrinos came with six sigma (!), and nobody in their right mind believed it, precisely as everybody in their right mind knows for more than half a year already that the Higgs boson is for real. So why the hype now?

    Big money projects need a lot of hype for justification. Thus, the Higgs boson is persistently called “God Particle”, although it has relatively little relevance to fundamental physics – in fact, theoreticians have long hedged their bets. This means that it is not nearly as fundamental as hyped and possibly there are other universes and even parallel worlds (not the same!) that are perhaps even quite similar to ours except for that they do not have Higgs bosons.

    Ethan Siegel from SB calls for shutting down the LHC (of course he cannot openly do so). He writes that the discovery of the Higgs boson is

    … a nightmare scenario for everything else, including supersymmetry, extra dimensions, and string theory. Because finding the standard model Higgs at this energy means that there’s no need for any of those things. A Higgs at 125 GeV and nothing else at the LHC, totally consistent with the standard model, mean that if supersymmetry exists, it needs to be at such a high energy that it no longer solves the problem it was designed to solve!

    He means the Hierarchy problem, and he is basically saying, though he cannot dare to actually say it (He may officially deny this interpretation), that with the Higgs, everything of interest that may still be out there is beyond the reach of the Large Hype Constructor (LHC), so we may as well scrap it!

    I do not agree with that there may not be perhaps be something waiting, though one has to ask whether it is objectively (without hype) worth it, and there are still other reasons that do also seriously suggest that it is time to scrap all these high ticket projects like the ELI super laser, because they are ineffective and always lead to hype and utter nonsense (in case of ELI discussed here) around a few, too few, results that could be achieved in much cheaper ways.



    With all the money we put into the LHC, we could have funded so many Laser research labs for example, not only would we have many more interesting and useful research results applicable to for example medical needs today, but by now, we likely would have found out how to detect evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson on a lab-bench top.

    The LHC is like people in 1970 spending almost all their research money on making the biggest computer possible at the time. Such is idiotic; this is not how progress works! You spend resources on many projects, and usually after ten or 20 years, you have something that is much more powerful than what you could have possibly made 10 years ago, and in every damn living room, too! You do not make 200 horse power cars by putting 200 horses in front of a wooden cart.

    With less hype and glamor science, there would be less public distrust in science; there would be more science and especially science jobs, real science jobs for many people. We would not have this weird situation of thousands of young people being reduced to computer technicians at particle collider data centers, unable to practice all the many aspects that belong to the experience of any good scientist. And we would not have the weird situation of a mere statistician surviving as a scientist by largely doing nothing else but a little statistics plus blogging about little bumbs on half sigma humps. Right here on Science2.0, but elsewhere similarly, we see article upon article coming out now every day about Higgs non-news cluttering up everything else of interest with useless blah blah. Often it is about mere rumors, say about 2.8 versus 3.5 sigma being combined with other rumors perhaps reaching the arbitrary 5 sigma. Notice that, quite opposed to the faster than light neutrino discussion, this time nobody adds the (this time really huge) Bayesian prior into the discussion and simply calls it over and done with. Oh no – that is not how you keep publishing nonsense.

    And with the hype there always comes nonsense, nonsense like that the masses of particles are due to the Higgs (No they are not!), nonsense like that the Higgs is some sort of ether while however Einstein disproved all ethers (neither the first nor the second is true), nonsense like that the mass of the Higgs may decide whether our universe is stable.



    That the standard model of particle physics has the Higgs does not tell us whether the standard model is fundamental or plainly an emergent symmetry, the (relatively) low energy behavior of a more fundamental physics inside of which the Higgs particle is merely a pseudo particle (which it is anyway, but that is another story).

    That the rest mass parameter of fermions inside the standard model is allowed to be nonzero due to the Higgs field breaking the electroweak symmetry (or perhaps even somehow effectively modeled by a Higgs field interaction) tells us nothing about the nature of mass. Mass is inertia against acceleration, the fundamental nature of which is still unknown and the amount of which is overwhelmingly due to Einstein's E = m c2 applied to binding energies that have nothing to do with the Higgs mechanism.

    Criticism is taboo in today’s business and publicity driven science rat race. You have to be a science cheerleader, or else … nothing. Critical positions are simply ignored and silenced. You can get fake memristor discoveries and arsenic life forms into Science and Nature, but criticizing such you cannot get into any journal that anybody reads outside of India.

    I once thought that all those who want to cancel funding to science are simply anti-science religious morons. But money corrupts, and big money corrupts big time. I still do not agree to stop science funding, but we need to counter the greed of big projects that draw all the money away into mere hype benefiting a very few people only and basically nobody else, especially not the many young people who would like to do real science instead of being reduced to data entry monkeys that may applaud the progress or shut up and go flip burgers.

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    More from Sascha Vongehr

    Comments

    I liked your article. I am amazed by the Higgs fever. I understand smashing protons to see what they consist of. But smashing protons to get the Higgs? The Higgs is supposed to break up to two protons. How can smashing protons can give the Higgs? Can you enlighten me?

    vongehr
    It is not so important what particles you smash as long as the colision energy is enough to create all kinds of particles. One does no longer smash particles in order to see what they are made out of, because fundamental particles are likely not made out of anything, at least not in the everyday understanding of a whole consisting out of parts.
    How come high energy collissions create particles that give mass to all particles?

    vongehr
    Please read the article and the links more carefully - it is all discussed.
    i agree

    You assume that there is a single big pot of money, and when a big project is not done, the money not used by it goes to other science projects. This assumption was tested with the SSC, the Superconducting Supercollider in the US.
    During its short existence, there were a fair number of (non high-energy) physicists arguing that its existence was depriving other fields of physics of needed funds, and its demise would allow generous funding of everything else.
    The demise of the SSC indeed happened, but I don't remember any bonanza for other fields of science after its closing.
    (Just another aircraft carrier was approved by Congress, instead, which the Navy didn't really want, due to its large and forever continuing operating cost). I do remember my department chairman occasionally inquiring with a solid state physicist who had indeed publicly advocated the SSC closing, for the above-mentioned reason, how his funding improved after the SSC demise. (We knew, it didn't).

    vongehr
    Well, as I explicitly wrote: "I still do not agree to stop science funding, ..."
    What you say is sadly also true, but I am sure you do not mean to say that the only alternative to the LHC type glamor science is aircraft carriers. ;-)
    Well, actually the alternative to LHC-type glamor science may indeed be aircraft carriers in the U.S., or tax rebates for our wealthiest fellow citizens and bank bailouts, rather than 1000s of laser labs. Apparently Congress (in the US) needs some glamor to approve larger funds. And so do European parliaments, who also like to fund a visible symbol of European collaboration and leadership, which the LHC certainly is.-- If the US Department of Energy (DOE) had not had its substantial contribution to LHC in its budget, most likely its budget would be just smaller, rather than having half a (US)billion dollars worth of other projects. And LHC participation was advocated by DOE's various advisory panels, so it apparently was the wish of the particle physics community. If CERN didn't have the LHC project, its remaining projects would not all suddenly have money to spare.--
    Consider also the persistence of the Space Shuttle/ISS program at NASA, while all space scientists clamor for unmanned (relatively) cheap instrumentation probes and satellites (and shuttle overruns kill off worthwhile smaller projects, which I thought was a real tragedy). --
    Of course, one should try, and various scientific societies do try, to educate Congress/parliaments/the public at large of the benefits of consistent (and bigger) science funding, apart from glamor projects, and also criticize obvious boondoggles. But we are stuck with having some 'glamor' projects, and should use them to direct the public's attention to all the many facets of science, big and small, rather than just disparaging them, unless they are indeed obvious failures.
    (Also: could Wall Street/The City have absorbed all the 'mere statisticians' now analyzing LHC data to analyze the risk of better derivatives/CDOs/arbitrage trades ?)

    Hank
    It was always known that an ILC would be required to understand whatever would be found with the LHC.  That, and residual distrust of Big Physics after the SSC fiasco, are why the US didn't want the LHC.

    If the James Webb Space Telescope ever gets out of its own black hole, the US will stop building big telescopes too.  
    vongehr
    It was always known that an ILC would be required to understand whatever would be found with the LHC.
    This is what HEP physicists make us believe, namely that 1) fundamental physics equals ever higher spatial resolution (nonsense since we know dx dp ~ h) and after that about ever higher energies (nonsense since we know about gravitational horizons E ~ M ~ R), and 2) that these can only be achieved by monstrous colliders, which is similar to saying that you can only reach 200 horse powers by putting 200 horses in front of a wooden cart.

    One example that I could have given also is one huge rocket that put a flag on the moon. If we had spend that kind of resources on research into advanced propulsion and robotics, we possibly would now see laser gliders taking off from LAX, destination Mars. I know you do not like that example, because you think in terms of national pride being important for funding and all that, which a damn "communist" like me of course cannot grasp.
    Hm, I noticed that you mentioned the memristor hype. It seems that after years of attempting to build neuromorphic systems based on the memristor, Darpa is more or less giving up. People can hype to hell the Higgs discovery, as I couldn't care less about particle physics, but I'm greatly disappointed to see that memristors aren't living up to their massive hype, given what they could do for computer vision and industrial robotics.

    vongehr
    I was critical of the fake discovery of the original Chua-memristor, which has still not been found and may well be impossible as a device. You write about memristic thin film devices (which should not be called memristors at all), which may still turn out to be useful. It is like with neural networks and so many other things. Compared to the hype, they failed miserably, but disregarding the hype, they are awesome.
    In 1960 at the dawn of artificial neural networks Bernard Widrow used what he called "memistors" to construct ADALINE (ADaptive LIneR NEuron). In the 1980's and 1990's there were several solid state versions of Widrow's memistors. Apparently this has been forgotten or ignored by DARPA and the supporters of Chua and HP's memristor.

    The reality is that unless there is a valid mathematical model describing the behavior of the materials which are claimed to be memristors it is unlikely that design engineers will be able to build systems from them. As far as I know there has been no realistic memristor models and instead HP and academics have proposed "window functions" to hide any discrepencies between theory and experiment. This does not bode well for their adoption as a replacement for flash memory or in the applications you mention.

    Thank you for your insightful reply. :)

    Jeff-- You said "after years of attempting to build neuromorphic systems based on the memristor, Darpa is more or less giving up." Can you point at any news to support that?

    It seems that they are still working with HRL and the University of Michigan to develop "artificial synapses" using "memristors," as of March (http://www.eecs.umich.edu/eecs/about/articles/2012/Lu-artificial-synapse...). However, they have cut ties with the Boston University lab that was developing a virtual animat that would utilize memristors as its "brain," for perception, navigation, decision-making, etc.

    Darpa also is no longer working with Hewlett-Packard in the development of the memristor, and they also cut ties with Stanford, which was attempting to use phase-change materials to construct synthetic synapses.

    So, have they completely given up? Clearly not, unless something has changed since March. However, it seems to me that they're not longer focused on building autonomous robots. As with a lot of these blue-sky projects, it appears that they're scaling their ambitions back a good bit, and are probably focused more on utilizing memristor technology and alternative neuromorphic designs on narrower areas of AI, such as computer vision and any other type of modeling the military could use in handling vast amounts of sensor data (IBM's ambition with their neuromorphic chips).

    The project is scheduled to end in 2016, and given the apparent technical difficulties involved in developing working memristor technology, and the fact that it could be at least several more years before anything practical can be created, it does seem like the project is on its last legs.

    Oh, and Todd Hylton, the guy that came up with the idea of the synapse project, resigned from Darpa in February, and is now working with Eugene Izhikevich's "Brain Corporation."

    Darn typos: "that they're NO longer focused..."
    I just can't type at this hour.

    Many thanks, Jeff. That was pretty much my understanding, too. I'd seen Hylton's move - Brain Corp have a lot of clout with Qualcomm behind them and Izhikevitch is very well cited. As for HP, I reckon their share price means "if it don't make profits, we don't do it" for the near future at least, so their focus will be big, established digital markets. Williams said recently that digital was all that's really needed (http://www.kavlifoundation.org/science-spotlights/how-atomic-scale-devic...)

    I'd love to know what happened between HP and Max Versace's gang at BU. I suspect the rest (maybe BU, too) just failed to pass the DARPA end-phase tests well enough to continue. SyNAPSE was always an ambitious project. It's hard enough trying to build machines to recognise cats (http://arxiv.org/abs/1112.6209) let alone act like them.

    You saved my life !!! Before reading this, I thought Physics has come to an end :)
    I think most of the people will agree to what you say here. It is so much hyped in the name of GOD PARTICLE that it is now hard to believe on authenticity. Whole process clearly showed desperateness than austerity.

    I think they wanted to the results so that they could convince governments not to cut funding on whole research which is likely to happen in this tough financial situation around the world.

    No (particle) physicist calls it the God particle. Even my non-Physicist friends asked me about the Higgs yesterday, in spite of the headlines being full of god particles. With the particle being found, the whole justification for calling it doggone particle has disappeared, and therefor also that for the more politically-correct shorthand. Criticising people for calling it the God particle is disingeneous.

    Your assessment of physics is wrong, plain and simple. You seem to assume that a) we knew there would be a Higgs and b) we understood all its properties. That's not the case. The Standard Model was built based on the simplest assumptions (single Higgs, power-2 potential, Yukawa couplings for fermion masses, …), and they have held up so far. That doesn't mean they're right. Everything else fell in place, true, but any deviation in the properties of the Higgs sector would immediately mean new physics, and would hopefully put theorists on the correct track to pursue. At this point there's a statistically insignificant 2-sigma excess in gammagamma decays. Who knows, maybe that is where the current theory fails.

    Finally, concerning innovations. LHC has the strongest magnets providing a field over extended periods of time. Spares of these magnets have already been used in other experiments that needed strong magnets. LHC is the largest cryo installation in the world. Read-out electronics and data processing have required large efforts into fast electronics and distributed computing. Surveying the installation to millimeter accuracy, installing a monitoring system for the 20km ring and the >100000 channel detectors, making it all work and finding ways of making people in non-hierarchical entities of >4000 people work together to deliver results within short time frames, all these are innovations that can also benefit the outside world once people finish their PhDs and look for something else. Sure, all this doesn't sound as flashy as anything with "Laser" in its title, but applicability outside the lab doesn't depend on these words either.

    vongehr
    You need to be more careful about what is actually argued in a text before trying to argue against it. What you say here is all more or less true but quite irrelevant and more importantly little to do with what I wrote. For example, where did I ever claim that we know all the properties of the Higgs boson? Calm down and try to understand what the article actually argues.
    I was perhaps a bit curt in my jump from your post to my answer leaving out some steps. Let's be more to the point this time :)

    You claim:
    a) "That the standard model of particle physics has the Higgs does not tell us whether the standard model is fundamental or plainly an emergent symmetry, the (relatively) low energy behavior of a more fundamental physics inside of which the Higgs particle is merely a pseudo particle (which it is anyway, but that is another story)."
    That is correct -- but pointless. The only way to find out more about the Higgs is to study the Higgs. Besides, if you know that the SM is due to the low-energy behavior of a more fundamental theory, how do you propose to study it? Laser setups?

    b) "With all the money we put into the LHC, [...] by now, we likely would have found out how to detect evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson on a lab-bench top."
    As long as no-one finds such a way, we'll have to live with what you have. In the past 70 years of particle physics noone has found ways of concentrating several hundred GeVs of energy in small spaces besides particle collisions. Sure, let's give up using what we know works, in the hope that we will find a replacement soon, because medical research leads to new methods in particle physics (and not the other way round)

    c) "There would be much less hype, thus less public distrust in science; there would be more science and especially science jobs, real science jobs for many people. We would not have this weird situation of thousands of young people being reduced to computer technicians at particle collider data centers, unable to practice all the many aspects that belong to the experience of any good scientist."
    And these skills are less beneficial to society how? Besides, there are generations of people who built these detectors and who operate these detectors, and before statistical analysis can be done there must be people who understand these detectors. And the accelerators.

    d) "And with the hype there always comes nonsense, nonsense like that the masses of particles are due to the Higgs (No they are not!), nonsense like that the Higgs is some sort of ether while however Einstein disproved all ethers (neither the first nor the second is true), nonsense like that the mass of the Higgs may decide whether our universe is stable."
    Except for the last point, where I don't have sufficient knowledge to judge, which particle physicist makes such statements? Yes, the Higgs gives elementary particles mass (that is a correct statement) but not the mass that dominates our everyday experience. That said, the Higgs mechanism gives masses in some places where it's very important: e.g., even though the proton would be much heavier if only the bare quark masses contributed, it would still be so much heavier than the electron, leaving its energy levels essentially unaffected.

    There's a "hydrogen atom" missing somewhere in my last sentence ;-)

    vongehr
    First of all let me thank you sincerely for being one of the first ones here to criticise this article with reasonable comments. I have deleted about 30 comments already because scientistic jihadists take it upon themselfes to troll every critical voice - so far are we down the road to scientism being a full blown religion in every way.
    The only way to find out more about the Higgs is to study the Higgs.
    Yes, of course. So huge hype and nonsense are ok while critical voices are silenced? And since memristic devices work, we should go on to publish false discoveries in Nature and hype them, silencing the original inventers in India because they are just Indians? What about the fundamental physics we are not doing because of the situation we are in? I think you still do not appreciate that my article does not ask for the LHC to be stopped! That is what Ethan's quote kind of implies - I only add a few arguments of a different nature (Without even insisting on any conclusion!). All else is your own interpretation!
    As long as no-one finds such a way, we'll have to live with what you have.
    I will hardly find such a way if we keep wasting resources like we do, and "live with what you have" is probably not the argument put forward to justify a new superhypercollider. ;-)
    no one has found ways of concentrating several hundred GeVs of energy in small spaces besides particle collisions.
    And this implies that we would not have found ways to either get the necessary evidence another way (1) or accelerate particles with, say, laser wave riding (2) or, say, find about double the amount of really intriguing fundamental physics like the Diosi Penrose criterion (3)? (See also my reply to Hank above.) Perhaps you are correct (I can't know all parallel worlds), but given all we know about technology and how it evolves, it goes much faster in many parallel, coevolving steps instead of trying to force 200 horse power cars by putting 200 horses together and having no money left for people who do mere thermodynamics.
    And these skills are less beneficial to society how?
    I refuse to argue "society" with scientistic physicist who are usually proudly ignorant about that the question of what society as an evolving system is does belong to the realm of science. The topic is science itself and what kinds of skills scientists have and how many parallel avenues to discovery are allowed to be pursued and also how science is presented to the public. The hype polarizes the public into believers versus a growing number who realize that we are blindly accelerating the evolution of a monster.
    the Higgs gives elementary particles mass (that is a correct statement)
    The Higgs mechanism is what allows the finite value of certain of several different masses in the standard model. It does not explain the nature of mass, which is what we are often told the Higgs does. The Higgs mechanism being fully understood adds little to the understanding of why general relativity has only space-time curvature while string theory describes a usual force field that interchanges closed strings as gravitons, or how binding energy cares about acceleration. Agains all hype, we did not these days get closer to a satisfying explanation of why objects are inert against acceleration (mass) the way they are.
    Yes, of course. So huge hype and nonsense are ok while critical voices are silenced? And since memristic devices work, we should go on to publish false discoveries in Nature and hype them, silencing the original inventers in India because they are just Indians? What about the fundamental physics we are not doing because of the situation we are in? I think you still do not appreciate that my article does not ask for the LHC to be stopped!

    1. So memristors are real, then? As if they're not, then there's nothing to "silence" from the original inventors but fraud and falsehoods.

    2. You say "I think you still do not appreciate that my article does not ask for the LHC to be stopped!" But then what do you mean when you say "The LHC is like people in 1970 spending almost all their research money on making the biggest computer possible at the time. Such is idiotic; this is not how progress works!" and "and there are still other reasons that do also seriously suggest that it is time to scrap all these high ticket projects"? And how do you think they SHOULD spend the research money? How do you think real breakthroughs in physics, answering the big unsolved questions, can be brought about? How do you think we can discover the "true" origin of mass, and so forth? If "big ticket" projects are not the answer, what is? How do you believe one can probe and test the more fundamental physics lying beneath the Standard Model?

    vongehr
    1. So memristors are real, then?
    The devices that HP falsely claims to be their invention are real nanometer thin film memristic junctions that have been developed years before in India. Those scientists did not call them "memristor", because they were good scientists that we should support. The scientific community does not give a crap because they are Indians.
    2. You say "I think you still do not appreciate that my article does not ask for the LHC to be stopped!" But then what do you mean when you say "The LHC is like people in 1970 spending almost all their research money on making the biggest computer possible at the time.
    That does not imply that if the computer is already build we should dismantle it.
    How do you think real breakthroughs in physics, answering the big unsolved questions, can be brought about? How do you think we can discover the "true" origin of mass, and so forth? If "big ticket" projects are not the answer, what is?
    Please see the linked articles that I wrote about these topics.
    "I do not agree with that there may not be perhaps be something waiting, though one has to ask whether it is objectively (without hype) worth it"

    Honestly it seems like the word "hype" is there to invalidate any guesses about what's waiting to be discovered that are more optimistic than suits your argument.

    "The LHC is like people in 1970 spending almost all their research money on making the biggest computer possible at the time."

    Isn't there's long and proud tradition of doing *exactly that*?

    vongehr
    Honestly it seems like the word "hype" is there to invalidate any guesses about what's waiting to be discovered that are more optimistic than suits your argument.
    It was not my argument, it was Ethan's, and I wrote that I do not agree with it, and secondly, the hype is the hype going on right now, the hyping of a few sigmas of a relatively unimportant discovery. If this were not about the benefit it has to certain groups of people, the sigmas would have just been made up by a suitable Bayesian prior (see FTL neutrino discussion) and the whole would have vanished in some Chinese journal. That is the damn truth of it!
    "The LHC is like people in 1970 spending almost all their research money on making the biggest computer possible at the time."
    Isn't there's long and proud tradition of doing *exactly that*?
    No, there is the tradition of having many many small places work on many projects so that slowly but surely and in the end amazingly fast we ended up with every teenager's mobile phone having a more powerful computer than the absolute biggest you could have possibly produced back in the days even if you had spend double the equivalent of the LHC. Or turning the argument around, if we had done such things, we would now have great hype about the first ever computing device that fits on a table, but you would read about it in the morning paper (made from paper!).
    My point was that it's a bit weird to call for objective assessment of whether the LHC is worthwhile, while at the same time (a) spraying the (very subjective) label "hype" at any sign of enthusiasm for the project, and (b) pitting it against the (ultra-subjective) wondrous results you imagine would have come from your preferred avenues of research.

    I too would love a Martian laser-glider, btw.

    "[Ethan] is basically saying, though he cannot dare to actually say it (I am sure he will even officially deny this interpretation, but I do not care about such politics)[...]"

    "It was not my argument, it was Ethan's, and I wrote that I do not agree with it"

    So you say it's his argument, even if he'd claim it wasn't?
    I say it's your argument, even if you claim it isn't :)

    Man the lack of sour super symmetrical grapes are sour!

    Which physicists "demand LHC shut down"? I'm not seeing anything relating to the sensationalized title, except where you're attributing that meaning as a vague subtext to someone who, as you admit, did not say that. No insult intended, but it's a little worrying that your response to the over-hyping of the Higgs findings is itself coated in unjustified hype....

    Hi there! I would like to cheerfully point out a few holes in your argument if you don't mind.

    > The LHC is like people in 1970 spending almost all their research money on making the biggest computer possible at the time. Such is idiotic; this is not how progress works!

    While I'll agree that spending millions on a research computer the size of a house in the 70s is quite stupid, you simply cannot apply that same logic to the LHC. The reason it's a bad idea to spend all your money on a research computer is because of Moore's law (computers double in power every 18 months).

    My phone is millions of time faster than that 70's computer. It cost me $200. Particle physics is not computational science. It's never going to be that much cheaper to build a seventeen mile long particle collider.

    Your second point that I found a bit troubling was your repeated inference that the sigma rating is "arbitrary" as if that somehow makes it invalid. A level 5 sigma rating is roughly a million to one error rate. The fact that it's arbitrary is moot.

    and lastly, I currently work as a video editor in hollywood and I love my job and location. I would give it all up in an instant to be a data entry slave at the LHC. It is the fronteer of particle physics and If I could do it all again I would have a PHD in it, and happily clickity clacking away next to my fellow space monkeys, warmed in my heart by the knowledge that I was helping to prod humanity ever so minutely over the next threshold of scientific discovery.

    vongehr
    No Laurence, computers are not somehow mysteriously special. Progress is co-evolution. Without the moon program and the shuttle, we would soon have collonies on mars. Instead, we have an american flag on the moon, and soon a Chinese one, too.

    About your not understanding the arbitrarity of the sigmas etc: please read the links and the other comments.
     Instead, we have an American flag on the moon, and soon a Chinese one, too. 


    它不再奶酪;它現在炒麵。(it's no longer made of cheese; it's now chow mein)

     Interesting quote from Steven Weinberg(via another blog):
     “My nightmare, and it’s not just me, but a lot of us [in particle physics], is that the LHC discovers the Higgs boson and nothing else… That would be like closing a door.” 
    But as Tommaso Dorigo wrote in Il Manifesto:
    After all, the LHC collider at CERN was built to discover the Higgs boson, but by now everybody hopes that it will lead us in terra incognita, toward new particles, new dimensions of space-time, or maybe, why not, toward the discovery of things up to now not even imagined by human mind. 
    the italian version: In fondo, il collider Lhc del Cern è stato costruito per scoprire il bosone di Higgs ma ormai tutti sperano che ci porti per mano in terra incognita, verso nuove particelle, nuove dimensioni dello spazio-tempo, o magari, perché no, verso la scoperta di cose finora nemmeno immaginate dalla mente umana. 

    If CERN does'nt want to close the door, they will declare that what they find is not Higgs, but new boson.
    on July 4th, CERN doesn't say that it is Higgs, but Higgs-like particle.
    They know that they will face the difficult situation if what they find is higgs.
    For they find only higgs, not new physics.
    To say that they find new boson not higgs is CERN's strategy.

    CERN's science is true science?
    We ask the question seriously.
    Many scientists worry about CERN's science.

    I am having a hard time buying in to your assertion that this experiment was 'worth it' or that 5 sigma(ish) is arbitrary.
    You don't feel finding the stop or other superparticles would be significant (or possible)? As I am certainly no physicist I am not sure of the possibility of finding a SUSY signal in the 500 to 1000 GeV range. If that is still a possibilty I think it is 'worth it'.
    Again maybe I am missing something with the 5 sigma result. But to me it sounds less arbitrary and more of a pre-selected result to establish a large amount of certainty. The OPERA results were from bad instrumentation (and some gullibility) I doubt you would argue that is the case with ATLAS and CMS. While it has been obvious to many for a while. Science doesn't work that way. Did the politics of science make them gun shy about claiming a discovery until they were well passed what many would consider enough evidence? Probably.

    vongehr
    I am having a hard time buying in to your assertion ... that 5 sigma(ish) is arbitrary.
    Not only is '5 sigma = "discovery"' a private definition of HEP physics that holds nowhere else in science and relates to certain methods that render statistical relevance measures inapplicable across disciplines (which undermines the whole point of stating scientific accuracies!), but moreover, as you can study from the links about Bayesian methods, it is made to largely depend on so called Bayesian priors that are basically adjusted until they get whatever significance they desire.

    You personally find such is fine to get rid of six sigma FTL neutrinos (and they did that math trickery before the convenient cable was blamed - I would not be surprised if the real reason has nothing to do with the cable that was all of a sudden accepted from one day to the other). The problem is: You either stick to the scientific method or if not, do not complain if the public does not care anymore for what scientists say about climate or vaccinations. Political activist look into science and find so much deception and power games and stupidity/pride/greed bias, it is easy to dismiss results and argue the opposite just as scientifically.
    Bravo for common sense, Sascha!

    The LHC (like most of Big Science) serves precisely one purpose: to consume money.

    It's especially irritating in recent years, because we have more opportunities than ever before to do good science with small amounts of money.

    Compare LHC, or manned spaceflight, to the Belly Button Project. An adhoc project by a few hundred people, requiring nothing more than good microscopes, examining a place that has never been closely looked at before. Result: Several hundred NEW species of microbes discovered!

    And what did the moonshot discover? Absolutely nothing that wasn't already known through telescopes.

    Thor Russell
    The ITER fusion project seems like a pretty big waste of money also. I think it is very unlikely that it will contribute anything useful to energy issues in the next 50-100 years. I'm sure what basic science it may help discover could be learnt through cheaper methods.
    Thor Russell
    >>but criticizing such you cannot get into any journal that anybody reads outside of India.<<
    didn't get it?

    apologies for going off-thread .. but .. how will Science20 celebrate Nicola Tesla Day?

    blue-green

    Grimm tales ahead for fundamental physics. The barren desert stretches forth with Silicone over our heads. Happy were the days when we had quarks! Truth Beauty and Charm! Today we have confirmation again for yet another boson that takes a multinational effort to produce and can never be bottled. Happy were the days when we had just light and photons. Verlinde's simplifications have been shown to be futile. Lisa of E8 fame has been left to be shark bait. The many worlds hypothesis has been shown to be what it is, old wine, Feynman diagrams, in new bottles. So what's next? Well, we have Hank's report of a robot that can easily defeat one at rock-scissors-paper. “Be afraid, be very afraid.” Of course, it's all a matter of being ahead by a millisecond, so its just engineering, not science. Baez has left us to write about “climate” as has the “The Reference Frame” while it pines for dimensions that are closed off to us, or rarely crack open.

    vongehr
    Kitty - I am starting to become concerned about your mental health. Are you well these days? Any voices when you are alone?
    blue-green

    Thanks for the concern.

    I have been struggling with my 1978 Landcruiser and feeling down.
    I replaced the battery, the alternator and the voltage regulator
    and still it will not charge anything. Now when I turn the key,
    its 15 amp "engine fuse" immediately blows. I'm taking it in for some
    expert help tomorrow. Meanwhile, I just finished reading a final draft of a novel
    by my dad on Ancient Egypt's brief monotheism period centered around Akhenaten and the creation of new art, Royal Family at Leisure, Akhenaten at Prayer, Window of Appearances, Plan of Maru-Aten …. Trying to get the big picture. That's all.

    Refuting arsenic bacteria can in fact get you published in Science (http://rrresearch.fieldofscience.com/search/label/%23arseniclife)

    vongehr
    Yes - after the whole thing was blown apart by means outside of the peer review process. That is why, if you want critical science to get heard, you need to push it by other means than science, and that should not be the case. I want to be able to be heard because my criticism of the memristor for example is good science and the memristor "discovery" is scientifically a scandal, not because some other big name got involved or octomom mentioned it and then it got trending on twitter in the summer news hole.