The Value of Science - Part 1: High Energy Physics

Discussion in 'The Science Forum' started by Excognito, Jul 25, 2011.

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    I'd initially penned the response to db's message in the "Higgs Bosun running out of places to Hide" thread. However, I felt that the nature of the comments raised by dogs_bollox and tufty52 (see below) deserved their own thread, so created this one.


    Do you have any hard facts to support your hypotheses about the value or efficiency of CERN? How are you judging value? Over what time scale? Who in the US, UK or Japan has equipment with similar access to energy levels? Do you have further evidence re its relative efficiency to other similar organizations?

    I expect problems, ineffiencies, personal problems, etc to occur in any enterprise. I am somewhat surprised that an organization as inefficient as you make it out to be could manage such a complex project.

    What was your position in CERN and what form of oversight did this take - are you speaking from, say, the position of a Brigade Commander, or of a logs squaddie, assessing infantry tactics?


    Tufty's message embedded in my response ...

  2. As far as I am aware, I have not claimed to have any knowledge of CERN. In fact ... thought so ... I've just reviewed all my posts in this thread and can find no evidence that I have said anything about how CERN operates or anything else about it, other than acknowledging they had reported having possibly discovered the signature of a Higgs Boson decay event. I'm afraid you are not building a strong case for the validity of your hearsay evidence about the workings of CERN, no matter what position you may have held, if you leap to conclusions that do not accord with the facts.

    As stated, I have no knowledge of CERN. However, as a comms type, I had pretty much the same kind of global access to, and involvement in, much that went beyond my immediate concerns. I used to find out a lot by people telling me stuff because they assumed I knew already (by virtue of having seen all the signal traffic, for example). So I know the kinds of information that can be had by being in the 'right' position. However, I also know that there are many things that I did not know or did not appreciate fully enough to comment reasonably upon, because of my limited view and lack of detailed discipline knowledge.

    See above.

    I'm sure most of us can up with such examples(*). But, you're right it is a small example and doesn't really go towards validating your assertion about the scale and nature of the efficiency. I'm not saying there weren't, nor that there weren't horrendous cock-ups - however, I've been involved with enough multi-million/billion euro projects to know this is not unusual; indeed, it seems to be par for the course. The Americans have similar horror stories ... worse ones, I suspect; the National Ignition Facility springs to mind as a possibility.

    Few, if any, large organizations are likely to be fully efficient and accountable. Unfortunately, the size of the organization is sometimes dictated by the task - WW2 couldn't have been fought with a "lean" brigade, it took hundreds of Divisions. But it doesn't mean they can't be improved.

    I can understand more efficient. You have not yet made the case for smaller. See above.

    Well, as I've already demonstrated that your assertion about my knowledge is incorrect, try me.

    Fair enough, again. But they are your personal experiences and need to be validated by others. Nor have you said how it could be made leaner or achieve the scientific goals with a smaller CERN. Don't forget that people are people - there will always be meetings-engineers, empire-builders, can't-be-done-ers, job-protectors, etc - and there is a limited number of people with appropriate training, experience and/or aptitude (even if they are not 'ideal') to pick from.


    (*) I had a leaking roof problem on my first tour, with water pouring down one of the electronic workshop's walls, which it had been doing ever since the annex was built some years previously, despite several investigations.
  3. Extract from message in "Higgs bosun is 'running out of places to hide'" thread
  4. I think that it's worth every penny and such research may save mankind from a holocaust of ignorance.

    Sending such amounts of money to third world countries is exactly like pouring fuel on a fire.
  5. Agreed. Curiosity driven science has returned far more than has been invested in it.
  6. we havent got any choice but to pursue science... the hidden mysteries of nature and science are to be studied when the sun is at its meridian.. the light of rationality.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. There is a choice. Baghdad was once a leading centre of knowledge and stayed that way for 300 years. Then it turned it's back on reality based reasoning because some buffoon stated the Koran was the only source of knowledge. Things went downhill rapidly.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. good point young man.... stay on guard.
  9. I shall try (but I ain't a young man anymore). This is a subject that I think I totally agree with excog about.
  10. And that sending money to starving populations may only return more suffering in the long run. Like sending rum to Eskimos to warm them up!