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Go Higgs or go home

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David Adamson Jr
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re: Go Higgs or go home
David Adamson Jr   7/14/2012 1:55:16 PM
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Neither Gauss nor Maxwell spent "several year state budgests" for their research. Thousands of other briliant scientists achieved breaktroughts from which we have benefits today, but were more than modest in their spending of the public money.

KB3001
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re: Go Higgs or go home
KB3001   7/14/2012 9:52:47 AM
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It is virtually impossible for them to get the necessary investment from private capital "Cal Q. Lust" because the returns are not immediate. In fact the returns are not known (no theoretical physicist can tell you what's the possible real application of this discovery in 10 years time or so). So let us be objective here and recognise that if this research is to be done, it needs tax-payer backing. Now, whether this should be the case or not, I have expressed my view on this matter in another post below.

KB3001
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re: Go Higgs or go home
KB3001   7/14/2012 9:48:13 AM
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While I would not go this far (calling them liars that is), I have expressed my concern in another related article on this website about the need for some scepticism regarding further funding of this venture. I do not question the need for funding fundamental research but we do not have an infinite amount of resources (certainly not these days!) and we have to prioritise spending as a result. I personally think theoretical physicists should be challenged more by the research base and funding bodies. Could not they achieve the same objectives with less obvious and dare-I-say less expensive means? I suspect they can, but they are choosing the easiest and more publicity-generating route.

David Adamson Jr
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re: Go Higgs or go home
David Adamson Jr   7/14/2012 9:11:38 AM
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Liars and Outliers. When it comes to spending tax payers money, theoretical physicists are the most clever liars and outliers both. "Quantum computing" - haha - BS that for 30 years spent billions of tax payers money with HUGE promises and ZERO delivery. The same is with money busters that chase Higgs boson. Experimental physicists, engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists are the brain force that are pushing the IT revolution in our civilization, not the theoretical physicists that are spending billions in vein.

Cal Q. Lust
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re: Go Higgs or go home
Cal Q. Lust   7/12/2012 6:45:05 PM
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Here, here. I am tired of government funded theorists and researchers screaming at me about how important all this work is. If it is so important and imperative, why aren't people with vested interests (i.e. venture money) jumping in with both feet? Convince people with money that your experiment is a better investment than the money currently being wasted on startups to "instantly send photos to Facebook!" This statement had me gritty my teeth: "In some ways, theoretical physics just got caught flat-footed, and there is no way to ever catch up." Catch-up? Catch-up with whom?!!!! I thought CERN was at the forefront with virtually no-one elese chasing them! Will the Higgs-Boson suddenly ceast to exist in 2 years if we have to wait? Has all this research "paid" off in the past? ...and how are you rating cost vs pay back. Well, we certainly have these things sooner than we would have... but so what? In the case of computers and radar, etc. those things were developed out of necessity - WWII. They had real usage at the time. Knowing that Higgs-Boson exists now - not next month, not in 2 years, but NOW...? Hasn't hurt me up to this point not knowing if it exists.

DaveR1234
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re: Go Higgs or go home
DaveR1234   7/12/2012 11:08:19 AM
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We'll all be in favor of the $$$ required if there is a high probability it will lead to better non-stick cookware, Teflon just isn't good enough.

krokodil
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re: Go Higgs or go home
krokodil   7/12/2012 10:57:42 AM
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Dear Kristin: Thanks for penning this article, it is an important discussion to have outside the ranks of the physics, in particular the high-energy physics, community. I would like to correct the implied notion that the CERN scientists are all theoretical physicists. It's true, there are several theorists involved with these collider facilities and the experiments that exploit them, but the teams of researchers that actually operate the facility and the experiments and that do the data analysis are experimental physicists and engineers. Why is this research important? I know it seems very abstract to look for particles which are so rare that it takes multi-billion dollar research centers years to manufacture in sufficient quantity even to claim discovery. But let's wind back the clock and consider the electromagnetic theory of Maxwell and the experiments that supported that. At the time there were scant applications but look what has become of it only 150 years later: you can thank Gauss and Maxwell and Faraday and many other for your 3G connection only to name one example. Understanding our surroundings is a defining characteristic which makes us intelligent beings. We're curious and some part of our psyche needs this understanding. This is why we are not still sitting in caves sucking on bone marrow. And yes, what do we do: spend on social welfare or spend on research? Well, both. Spend it on education too, and art. There's plenty of money out there and having it sit in bank accounts somewhere does no good for the commonwealth of humanity. Full disclosure: I am a physicist so I am definitely a biased voice. But I am also a human, and a father too. I want this to be the best world we can make it for ourselves and for generations to follow.

WKetel
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re: Go Higgs or go home
WKetel   7/11/2012 8:35:29 PM
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If indeed the knowledge to be gained is so very wonderful and so vitally important, how have we gotten to our present state without it? Do we really need anything more in the way of products to do stuff for us? When the hysteria dies down, we may well be discovering that the ultimate price is more than we can afford to pay. At the risk of sounding like "a screaming Luddite", do we really need anything more? Life is certainly complicated enough at the present. Of course, this may well lead to the invention of a new weapon system similar to the "disrupter" used by the Romulans on Star Trek. uch a weapon certainly could be useful for our military, but in the hands of an enemy it could be a real problem, in that there is no defense from it.

Acepilot
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re: Go Higgs or go home
Acepilot   7/11/2012 2:37:28 PM
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Investment in fundamental research often leads to practical products that make our lives more productive and better. For example, microchips, computers and medical breakthroughs often start as fundamental research. So it seems that money spent on research DOES pay off in the long term. Sadly, over the last few decades, we have decided that it's much better to spend money on programs like the "Great Society" and the "War on Poverty", so we cancel programs like the super Colider project and instead put money into entitlement programs that have little or no payoff in the long term. But which has a better payoff for all of us: Social programs that produce an entitlement society, or fundamental research that leads to innovative new products and medical breakthroughs? History has shown that that latter choice is better.

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