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Government The Almighty Buck Science

Texas Scientists Regret Loss of Higgs Boson Quest 652

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-could-have-been dept.
MarkWhittington writes "The probable discovery of the Higgs Boson particle is greeted as bittersweet news in Texas. Had the Superconducting Super Collider, at one time under construction in Waxahachie, Texas, not been cancelled by Congress in 1993 the Higgs Boson might have been confirmed a decade ago, some believe, and in America."
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Texas Scientists Regret Loss of Higgs Boson Quest

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  • by dave420 (699308) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @06:33PM (#40545705)
    This is science, not a pissing contest. Where something is discovered is meaningless.
  • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @06:35PM (#40545715)
    When it is discovered, though, can have quite an impact on history.
  • Well... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by imagined.by (2589739) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @06:36PM (#40545731)

    Well, I'm sorry to point this out, but you won't win any science awards by kicking critical thinking out of the classroom.

    Just sayin'.

  • Go congress! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by penguinbrat (711309) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @06:38PM (#40545745)
    It will be a cold day in hell when the people of the US realize that those elected to congress actually need to KNOW their shit, rather than just talk it... Meaning that EVERYONE elected needs to prove they know what in the hell they are doing, technical and otherwise, rather just knowing how to talk the talking points...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @06:42PM (#40545779)

    The USA drains the brains from so many countries because it leads in so many areas of science. USA cutting funding for scientific research is significant and will hurt it in the future.

  • funding education, healthcare, science: that's evil socialism

    Next you'll tell me funding bridges, roads, tunnels, railroad, etc. is good for the country

    These are just feel goid schemes to funnel money away from rich folk and corporations, preventing them from creating jobsand growing a giant government that stifles growth

    Nothing useful or capital creating will come out of this, just some socialist European egg heads making up theories without proof that destroys young people's faith in God ...welcome to America. Weep for us.

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @06:55PM (#40545897)

    Get out of your ivory tower; science is a career, much like any other, and scientists need to eat, just like everyone else. Yeah, in the scope of human history, where it's discovered is meaningless, but for the careers of the scientists and the state of funding for their future endeavours, it makes a huge difference. Moreover, it just reinforces the fact that no matter how good or skilled a scientist you are, these days your ability to do science doesn't depend on your merit, but on the state of science funding by your government. It's a perfectly valid point to bring up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @06:56PM (#40545901)

    I realize that you're just a bigot who wants to make a kneejerk comment about Texas, so this comment is probably a waste of my time.

    However, a couple of points: Texas actually does have some decent research institutions (The UT System, A&M, and Rice all have excellent science departments).

    Secondly, the SSC would have attracted the best and brightest from all over the nation.

    Our K-12 system does have some issues, especially with the dolts who approve textbooks in Austin. However, we do have a lot of smart kids and good school systems in some places that have produced some of the nation's top talent in the sciences.

    I don't have a problem with atheism, especially since I am one myself. However, mindless bigotry and gross generalizations puts you in some of the same moral categories as the Christians go as far as being pragmatic about solving the world's problems. You're not pragmatic; you just want to whine and moan with your air of superiority.

  • hmm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @06:56PM (#40545905)
    It was still discovered, and this way I didn't have to subsidize it. WIN.
  • by Ironhandx (1762146) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:17PM (#40546041)

    Slashdot needs +1 Sarcasm mods, or tags, or something.

    Every time I see someone post something like this I fear for the confirmation bias that causes others to read it as though it was in no way intended to be sarcastic.

    See, I could even have my own confirmation bias going on here. This can legitimately be taken as you genuinely believe the bullshit that I see as obvious sarcasm due to the last sentence, but it wouldn't be that clear to someone else. Especially fox news viewers. Of whom we have more than a few around here. That station is like a fucking plague on the intelligence of the US.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:18PM (#40546055) Homepage Journal

    hmmm... an experiment must be falsifiable.

    Here we go...

    Why don't you explain to us what you think "falsifiable" means?

    I'm obviously a layman and my opinion on these matters isn't worth much. But I am a fair judge of human nature, human bureaucracy, and I do understand how important this issue is to the physicists.

    I think we can make some very good predictions about you from that statement. Like, there may be some other reason that you don't want to see any confirmation of the existence of the Higgs Boson. In fact, from your seemingly neutral statement above, I can make a prediction about your political views and affiliations with a great deal of confidence. I can predict with a very high level of confidence your educational level.

    You are what happens after a decades-long attack on science - actually a decades-long attack on all forms of expertise. Because once people are convinced that scientists are all liars with agendas and all experts are eggheads that you can't trust, then you can fill people's heads with all sorts of BS, because now their only reference for reality is what you tell them. It's how outlets like Fox News work. "Oh those scientists don't know anything and they're all lying" and, "Oh those professors don't know anything because they're all lying" and, "Oh, you know those Nobel Prizes don't mean anything because...Al Gore is fat." etc.

    I'm obviously a layman and my opinion on these matters isn't worth much

    And yet, here you are telling us how you are "a fair judge of human nature" and how you "do understand how important this issue is to the physicists". I would predict, with a high level of confidence, that you are neither "a fair judge of human nature" nor do you understand what part of this issue is important to physicists.

    It would be deeply embarrassing if after all this they make a break through.

    Wait, what?

    So... I'm skeptical.

    No, you're not. If you were skeptical, you wouldn't have already made up your mind. It's OK to question what you hear, what you read, but only if you question to the same extent your own biases - your own limitations. And questioning your self is not, "I may not be an expert, but dad-gummit, I know what I know...".

  • Re:Now what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:35PM (#40546191)

    They don't actually have any such thing. They have a particle that is necessary for the theories to be correct, but they don't know if the behavior of the particle follows the theories so there is a lot of excitement and potential for new ideas to be generated from the study of this.

    As far as practical uses, well few thought General Relativity would have practical application, and now it's use is a common everyday thing because GPS depends on it.

    Who can tell what uses will be made from this when the theory isn't even settled yet?

  • by kno3 (1327725) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:37PM (#40546205)
    PopeRatzo probably has you nailed down quite well, there. If a little harshly put.
    Your information on this is, quite frankly, bullshit. I am familiar with the workings of the ATLAS experiment, and have been present at numerous private lectures given by them giving updates on their data and possible conclusions.
    Indeed, far from being the last possibility on the list, the figure of 125.3GeV is basically exactly what the standard model predicted. In fact, the result is so predictable it is almost boring. You say that physicist would be deeply embarased if they didn't find it, but actually many were hoping to find a less expected result than this. So far, the results have not helped us at all with understanding dark energy (though, it is early days, still) as many had hoped. Supersymmetry is looking less likely.
    It is OK to be sceptical, but you seem to be basing your comments on nothing more than an uneducated hunch.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:38PM (#40546213)

    It does? How does the US lead, when the LHC is in Switzerland? Looks to me like Europe is leading in the area of high-energy physics, not the US.

    What I don't understand is why these Texas scientists are upset, and why they're still in Texas. If all the work is in Europe, why wouldn't they just move there? That's the way it is when you're a professional; you only have a limited amount of choice in where you get to live, because you have to move to where the work is for your chosen industry. For instance, if you're a petroleum engineer, you're probably not going to get to live in Hawaii, since there's no oil there (that I'm aware of off the top of my head). If you're a VLSI designer, you're not going to get to work in Maine, since there's no companies there doing that work. High-energy physics doesn't seem like a career with tons of places to work.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:38PM (#40546217)

    So you want lots and lots of government money for sciencey stuff, but with no politics involved. Do you also want it delivered by unicorn-riding couriers?

  • by avandesande (143899) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:41PM (#40546243) Journal

    Congresses cut of funding destroyed physics programs across the country- although the collider was in Texas there were people working on detectors, software and other aspects of the project across the entire US.

  • by kno3 (1327725) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:54PM (#40546367)
    That is not the gist of what you said in the comment PopeRatzo was replying to. You implied flawed methodology and even the possibility of a conspiracy. That is neither patient nor intellectually valid.
  • Re:stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:03PM (#40546451)

    Sure, you hear some idle speculation that they were planning to surrender via diplomatic back channels,

    No. They did try to negotiate a surrender. Not idle speculation (4th of July, so will forgive your star spangled view of history).

    The Japanese wanted guarantees that their emperor would not be harmed. The US wanted to kill a ton of civilians to demonstrate the the Soviet Union their new bomb. In the end, after the US incinerated thousands of innocent lives for purposes of their demonstration, the US agreed to the terms that the emperor would not be harmed, and the Japanese surrendered.

    Simple to fact check all of the above, but be sure to clear that star spangled dust out of your eyes first. Seems that dust has a funny way of making folks invisible to facts.

  • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:03PM (#40546457) Homepage

    Sigma 5 is a good level of confidence. Its not jumping to conclusions.
    It is plenty enough to make a announcement.
    The duplication of results can occur afterwards.

    If I told you that 1 + 1 = 2 with a verifiable 3 in 500,000 chance of being wrong, you probably wouldn't ask someone else what 1 + 1 equaled.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:11PM (#40546523)

    Yes but Neocons are so hypocritical about it. They go around whining about the deficit, but then cut taxes and only pay lip service to cut spending.

    I'd like to know what planet that works on.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:15PM (#40546547)

    "You realise it is not possible to be peer reviewed in the conventional sense? The peers would require a new LHC."

    Not even close. Peer reviewers do not have to duplicate the experiments, they just have to verify that the analysis methodologies are correct, given that the data is accurate as presented.

    Peer reviewers have no practical way to determine if the data is in fact correct, unless they see obvious flaws in the procedures. Therefore verifying the accuracy of the data is not a normal part of peer review. Their job is to catch blunders in the procedures as stated in the paper, and the analyses as stated in the paper.

    However, finding flaws in the experimental or analytical procedures is very much the job of the reviewers. This has been the big stumbling block for "climate science": the researchers used -- and have continued to use -- highly questionable methods. Even if their DATA is all correct (which I very much doubt).

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:18PM (#40546573)

    What makes you think they can keep a secret?

    The Chinese will be selling Higgs Boson powered sex toys in 2 weeks.

  • Re:Go congress! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by metallurge (693631) <metallurgeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:39PM (#40546707)
    Yeah, well, that would imply the electorate would need to know what in the hell they are doing, technical and otherwise, rather just knowing how to listen to the talking points...
  • Rant. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:45PM (#40546745)

    There are people out there who are pooh-poohing the Higgs Boson. "What can we do with it?" they ask, implying that we can't ever do anything with basic science almost sneeringly because they can't wrap their own tiny minds around why we do basic scientific research. They can't figure out why we try to discover why the Universe is the way it is.

    James Clerk Maxwell unified electromagnetic theory in the 1860s. This was the basis for all modern electronics and radio, and had implications for special and general relativity. There were absolutely *zero* practical implications at the time. It took people a while to figure out what to do with his equations.

    It wasn't until the 1920s that broadcast radio started to become common. This was a gap of 80 years, more or less. That does not even include the implications for the nuclear science and MRI and such. We are still using his equations and the math of those who followed, like Einstein, Szilard, Bose, Feynman, et alia, as the basis of new technology more than 140 years later. We probably won't figure out the full implications of the Higgs Boson in the next 200 years. So what if there are no immediate applications for the Higgs? Discovering how the universe works helped the "primitive" hunter-gatherer track his lunch, and it has helped modern man in more ways than can be described here.

    But that's not enough for certain people. These are the people who decry the study of fruit fly genetics as a waste of time and money because they can't possibly ask someone why we do such research. They are politicians, wannabe politicians, media dunderheads, demagogues, and people who don't see advancement of basic science as the self-centered advancement of themselves. They are the Sarah Palins of the world. They are the ones who, if actually listened to, would put a halt to all basic science because, to them, it is "useless."

    Because they think their 8'th grade (if that) misunderstanding of science and technology trumps that of people actually doing the hard work of basic science.

    Fuck them with a rake.

    --
    BMO

  • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dtmos (447842) * on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:46PM (#40546755)

    It was still discovered, and this way I didn't have to subsidize it.

    Oh, yes, you did.

    You subsidized it with higher levels of unemployment in the many technical fields needed to design, construct, and use the SSC.

    You subsidized it with lower salaries in those fields, for those able to find work in them.

    You subsidized it with the loss of the many small companies that otherwise would have been started by entrepreneurs in response to the challenges faced by the SSC project. Most would have failed, of course, but in a project of that size it's likely that a handful of these small companies would have survived to make significant advances in the state of the art.

    You subsidized it with a US industrial base that was less competitive than its foreign competition, which honed its capabilities solving the difficult technical problems presented by the LHC, while the US base did not.

    You subsidized it with a loss in stature of the US physics community on the world stage. Having the top-tier experimental apparatus outside the US is not the way to attract "the best and the brightest" to the US and is, in fact, the way to force the best young researchers in the US to go overseas.

    You subsidized it with a loss in stature of hard science in the minds of US school children. Like the space program before it, the SSC could have been the motivation for a generation of school children to study science and technology. Lacking this symbol, clever students who might have made significant contributions in many technical fields have instead drifted off to other things.

    The per-capita cost to build the SSC, in round numbers, was $40 in 1993. Wouldn't it have been cheaper to pay $40 then, than the above subsidies now?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:56PM (#40546831)
    The mods have spoken, amateur. Leave.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @09:17PM (#40546975)
    The fact that it would have been discovered 10 years ago is more significant than the fact it would have been discovered in the US. Whatever benefit will be derived from the discovery would have been enjoyed for an extra 10 years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @09:22PM (#40547011)

    So what can you, being an expert on climate science, statistical analysis, and data-gathering methodology, pinpoint as being "highly questionable methods" that are currently and incorrectly being used by climate scientists? And who might those climate scientists be? And exactly what data do you "very much doubt" is correct?

    It's great that you have an opinion, but you can't validly state that climate scientists are using highly questionale methods and doubtful data without citing specific examples of flawed metholodigies, identifying the scientists and papers that use these methodologies, and giving examples of the suspect data, and expect to immediately be taken completely seriously. I eagerly await your repsonse with all of its citations and background research.

  • Re:In other news: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @09:24PM (#40547021)

    Is there any reason why "the Circuit of The Americas" can't be in Mexico ? There are probably as many Mexican fans of Formula 1 as there are US fans.

  • by VernorVinge (1420843) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @09:39PM (#40547093)
    The Nobel Prize is a large trust left by the inventor of dynamite to perpetuate his legacy. The prizes are awarded each year by six Swedish scientists in secretive deliberations with no input from the scientific, academic, or political community at large. I have long abandoned the belief that the prize is in any way an accurate indication of the recipient's accomplishments.
  • by csumpi (2258986) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @10:06PM (#40547299)
    First though, stereotyping is stupid and unfair. I could say that based on your bullying, calling the other guy an idiot, Fox News watcher, global warming denier, I could guess your political views.

    Life is not as black and white as you make it out to be. For example I'm a Catholic, have conservative views, tend to agree more with Republicans, watch the O'Reilly Factor every once in a while and will vote for the Republican nominee this year. However in '08 I voted Democrat, studied nuclear physics in college, do believe that the Earth is warming, disagree with our reliance on foreign oil, drive a hybrid car and installed a geothermal heating system in our house. My best friend is gay, I'm not against abortion and my kids play with Asian and African-American kids. I also don't own any guns and there is evolution.

    But let's get back to you calling the other guy uneducated. A simple search on wikipedia reveals that Catholics have been historically Democrats, and recently:

    "Their party independence continued into 2000, and Catholics became the large religious grouping that most closely reflected the total electorate, ahead of mainline Protestants. 50% of Catholics voted for Al Gore versus 47% for George W. Bush in the very close 2000 election. 52% of Catholics voted for Bush's successful reelection compared to 47% for the Catholic John Kerry in 2004, versus 51% to 48% overall.[4] Barack Obama, who chose the Catholic Joe Biden as his running mate, received 54% of the Catholic vote in 2008 compared to John McCain's 45%, close to the overall 52% to 46%."

    Most Jewish people are also Democrats, Republicans hardly get any votes from them.

    But I won't do your research on all religions. You should do that, before you call the next guy an idiot.

    Al Gore could lose a couple pounds, and if he really believes in the sea levels rising, he should not buy an ocean front mansion nor fly around on his private jet.

    And just before I let you go, you should know that discovering Higgs boson will not put a dent in Creationism and there's nothing wrong with people having different beliefs. Religious freedom is what our great country was built on.
  • by mortonda (5175) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @10:46PM (#40547615)

    Given the fact that they gave a Nobel to Obama, I think the measurement of Nobels granted as a metric is rather suspect.

  • by The Master Control P (655590) <ejkeever&nerdshack,com> on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @11:20PM (#40547853)
    If they're saying to just trust them, why did I sit through a two hour conference talk last night where leaders from two different experiments explained exactly what their procedures for running, calibrating and analyzing data from the LHC in half a dozen channels each were, including multiple tests against other known values/constants?

    The council of concern trolls seem to be really, very, seriously, awfully concerned about the Higgs discovery...
  • by LordNimon (85072) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @11:26PM (#40547883)

    The Nobel Peace Prize has always been a joke. Don't let it cloud your judgement of the other areas.

  • by Tore S B (711705) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @12:43AM (#40548221) Homepage

    "I don't know if I'd say NOTHING. It's pretty fucking hot outside."

    Where you live, maybe. We've just gone through one of the coldest Springs on record. The other was last year.

    Arguing that climate science is wrong because of weather is like arguing that the theory of gravity is wrong because your helium balloon goes up. Stupid.
     

    But that's beside the point. Gore sure as hell didn't show us any CAUSE. What he showed us were graphs without scales or indexes, or numbers of any kind... rhetoric, but not evidence.

    Yes, and Nelson Mandela should never have gotten the Peace Prize either. I mean, his work against Apartheid was sorely lacking in citations and his party program wasn't even accepted by any major peer-reviewed journal!
     

    We knew it was getting hotter, even without AGW. So "it's hot outside" isn't an argument in Gore's favor. If AGW ever does turn out to be true, he stands to make a freaking fortune with the cap-and-trade businesses he set up. And if that's not conflict of interest, I don't know what is.

    The whole POINT of the Nobel Peace Prize is to help a good thing become a bigger thing. Both by granting it visibility on the global stage and a little bit of dough, it's supposed to help it out. Gore does not operate a "cap and trade" business; that's government policy, not a business model. He does oversee some green investment funds, though.

    Which kind of makes sense if you seem to be one of few people with deep pockets who realize what impact this will have on the profitability of different things.

  • by sugarboy (125106) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:25AM (#40549403)

    Actually, yes.

  • Re:Texas eh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:40AM (#40549479) Homepage Journal

    Are you some sort of dipshit?

    Here's what you originally said:

    You do know that it was the Congress... controlled by mostly non-Southern Democrats... that killed the Supercollider, right? With the full support of then-President Bill Clinton. Most Republicans tried to save it as a matter of national prestige.

    Then, when called out, you provided a link that directly contradicted your original statement. Lets have a look what the article says:

    On Clinton:

    to halt construction of the world's largest atom-smasher against the wishes of President Clinton and a Senate-House conference committee.

    On most Republicans trying to save it: From your own figures 115 to kill, 61 to save. Are you maths skills so fucking poor that you think ~35% is most?

    Stupid revisionist bullshit.

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