Americans, but in general scientists, and science-lovers of any country, should be proud of the achievements of the Tevatron collider, the 2-TeV proton-antiproton collider build over a quarter of a century ago under the prairie of Batavia (IL), and which is still the world's most powerful, and may I say successful, particle accelerator ever built by humans.
"Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernencko: these three premiers of Soviet Union unexpectedly died around 1984, such that Gorbachev could lead the process that ended with the fall of Soviet Union, such that the US congress stopped funding the SSC, such that the Higgs was not discovered.
According to the new theory of backwards causation, you should be proud of having destroyed communism."
Many thanks to Dennis for linking, from the NYT site, an article I wrote one year ago to comment a crackpotty paper by an otherwise esteemed scientist.
The essay just appeared on the New York Times
site is excellent, as always with Overbye, but it is also way more balanced than my rather vitriolic attack on the theory of backward causation and, in particular, the idea that one should use the Large Hadron Collider to test it by deciding to run or not to run based on the turn of a card.
The web site of the Cornell preprint archive, arxiv.org, says it best: successful submissions to the preprint archive are a source of considerable pride (darn it, the page with the exact statement is only available just after you submit a paper, so I cannot quote it literally here since my browser has by now forgotten it!).
Ah, the pleasure of study! I had forgotten the immense intellectual pleasure one may derive by reading a stimulating, informative book. And if half a lifetime has passed from the last time you studied something, and what is left in your brain of it is just Culture, then reading it back again combines the pleasure of the discovery (a rediscovery, in this case) with the one of putting things in perspective, combining the bits of information you recollect with all the knowledge you have acquired since the last time you put the book down.
The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom, by Graham Farmelo
Basic Books, 2009
When Niels Bohr calls you strange, you know you're in rare company. Niels Bohr, as director of one of the great institutes of theoretical physics, came to know almost every one of the oddballs who populated the early 20th century physics community, and he rated Paul Dirac as "the strangest man" he ever met. Hence the title of Graham Farmelo's excellent new biography of this major physicist.
It is easy to marvel at Einstein's relativity theory. It is less easy to really understand relativity. At least so it seems. Understanding relativity requires abilities in predicting with confidence the outcomes of relativistic experiments. For that you need a PhD in physics. Right?
There are many super microscopes around the globe but they are not like the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This new source has become the brightest of them all since August 2007. Some say it is more like a laser light than a flashllight in comparison with others.
"In reaching this milestone of operating power, the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) is providing scientists with an unmatched resource for unlocking the secrets of materials at the molecular level," said US Department of Energy's William Brinkman. SNS achieved on September 18 a record one-megawatt power or about seven times of what is available at ISIS in UK.
"It turns out that any optimal classical decision rule is also some Bayesian rule. In other words, even if the decision maker is not a Bayesian, he will behave as if he were!"
Frederick James, Statistical Methods in Experimental Physics
Carl Brannen is well known to the regulars of this blog. He is an independent researcher and my favourite non-professional theorist, because he gives me the hope that brilliant minds, who were diverted from the natural path of doing basic research, may return to it for good. And Carl provides us with another important proof: that institutionalized science does sometimes listen to the voice of those who have something to say regardless of who signs their monthly paycheck.