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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 AikonMGB (1013995) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:29PM (#40545681) Homepage

    They are saying that their experimental results fit the predictions of the Standard Model Higgs boson, to a relatively high confidence level. This is the best that you can hope for from any scientific experiment.

  • stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:51PM (#40545859) Homepage

    Oh, god, this is stupid.

    Science is not a zero-sum game. Scientific discoveries enrich everybody, regardless of which country they're made in.

    The SSC was way over budget. Better to pull the plug than to give various contractors a blank check.

    American physicists are well represented at the LHC. Grad students are still being trained, etc. It's not like American experimental particle physics was dealt a fatal blow from which it can never recover by the cancellation of the SSC.

    The actual fatal blow to accelerator-based experimental particle physics may be a world-wide one, due to (1) accelerator technology reaching the point of diminishing returns, and (2) a physics scenario in which the Higgs is detected but absolutely nothing else (such as supersymmetry) turns up. If this is how things turn out, then we'll just have to say that accelerator physics was a field that was active and then died. It happens. There's no god-given rule that says that every academic field will remain viable forever. Take a look at the Nobel prizes in physics [wikipedia.org] from years like 1912 and 1920. The future of experimental particle physics may be in cosmic ray experiments, for example. If so, then the US Congress will look prescient for canceling the SSC.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:52PM (#40545871)

    Actually they said they found a mass of a possible new particle at one of many of the possible energy levels of the Higgs. It is very possible it is something entirely unrelated (there is no proof yet that it is even a Boson).

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:53PM (#40545873) Journal
    Is what the headlines should read. The reason why SSC was not completed is because Poppa Bush had chosen it based on POLITICAL reasons. Had the reason been up to scientists, then this would have been built in illinois by extending our original collider AND IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FINISHED.
    The reason that I say so that:
    1) it extended the current collider. As such, only part of it had to be built.
    2) the ground was soft in Illinois and did not suffer from water issues like Texas did. Just building part of the tunnel in Texas was more expensive then doing all of it in Illinois.
    3) Illinois was loaded with diggers and plenty of workers that were finishing up various projects in Chicago. They would have brought the diggers down there and finished it in no time flat. In texas, they brought in loads of illegals who had to be taught how to do simple construction techniques.

    What Americans should be doing is screaming that we have suffered ENOUGH of the politics that permeates today. For example, the neo-cons (these are the ppl that have taken over the republican party and are the ones responsible for the above screw-up), are currently pushing for the Space Launch System to be built (ANOTHER 20 B to build a system that will not have its first SCHEDULED launch for another decade) and working hard to kill off private space. They are basically trying to destroy NASA and America's space assests. What is amazing is that they proclaim one thing, but do another. And their loyal followers have not notice that over the last 30 years, they have sunk America into being a mediocre nation with massive debt and destroying our science and R&D.
  • Now what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mark-t (151149) <`markt' `at' `lynx.bc.ca'> on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:18PM (#40546049) Journal

    Okay... they've discovered a particle that confirms existing theories about the universe are actually correct. That's really cool, and it's not my intent to downplay that accomplishment.

    But now what happens?

    I mean, it's all well and good to know that it exists, but what can we actually *DO* with that knowledge?

    What does the existence of the "God Particle" actually mean for the future science? Will it actually ever make any difference to anybody's future who isn't into theoretical physics?

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @10:24PM (#40547023)

    It's certainly a factor. Texas is disliked by by certain political factions that find it's political power and economic ascendance to be inconvenient.

    Don't take it personally. All the powerful states have enemies. I live in California... believe me. We have our enemies. Texas tends to get screwed more often then California by national politics but that's because texas is bad at playing political games.

    Look at texas politicians... are they known for being great orators? It's a problem. Indifferent to the state's politics, they need to hire more competent politicians or they're going to get screwed repeatedly. They have more then enough power to protect themselves if they're defended competently.

  • by haggus71 (1051238) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @10:54PM (#40547191)
    I'll listen to the hundreds of Ph.D's that have been dealing with this day in and day out, and knew beforehand to make sure they had a high confidence level before releasing the info. They had this stuff over 6 months ago, maybe longer; and vetted it, making sure it was sigma 5 before letting it loose. They did that because there are ass hats like yourself even in their own community. The fact that Stephen Hawking(a much greater mind than you) was confident enough in the results to say he lost a hundred dollars on betting they wouldn't find it, says a lot. So really, I'll take their word for it, since your "confidence level" means fuck-all.
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @11:22PM (#40547399)

    "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.

    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.

    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.

  • by chrisxcr1 (1210984) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @11:42PM (#40547585)
    Go watch the movie again. It is unusually hot where I live. You say it's unusually cold where you live. That is not contradictory to what he was saying in the movie. The theory is that climate change will manifest itself differently in different areas. I watched the movie and his message seemed completely plausible to me. If he's wrong, no big deal. We spend a lot of money on lots of dumb things. Spending a little extra to convert to carbon neutral energy sources that don't funnel money to our enemies doesn't seem all that bad to me. If you're wrong, we're fucked.
  • by khallow (566160) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @12:04AM (#40547737)

    But this article is really those scientists shoving the governments nose in their choices not to fund. "See all this publicity? Astounding discoveries on physics? This could have been about US instead of CERN, it could be us getting the attention, getting a reputation for cutting-edge physics, etc, etc". They're drawing attention to the consequences of letting someone else get there first. It's not showing hypothetical value, it's showing real value that got away.

    To be blunt, there's no indication that the SSC would have done such science. It got canceled in the first place because it was deeply in trouble. Would things have looked better, if the LHC was making discoveries while the SSC, supposedly operational for a couple of decades, was unable to replicate the experiments due to the shoddy nature of its construction and management?

    Second, we got a lot of value out of canceling that project and putting the money elsewhere, including the LHC.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @12:06AM (#40547753)

    You can always control a conclusion if you control the premise.

    Do you have any idea of what an "experiment" is? They made a prediction. They ran the experiment. The experiment met their prediction. Previous experiments did not. The experiment they ran isn't that new in terms of methodology. They've run variations of it over the last several decades: Small atoms together; see what is created. What is new is better detectors/detector methods/computers so that they can sift through the massive truckloads of data that is recorded in a miniscule of a second.

    If I told you to just trust me because I'm really sure you wouldn't take that as a fact would you.

    No one asked them to trust them. They gave their preliminary results. Nerds everywhere cheered. They will release more details later.

    I'm not being unreasonable here. I just think it's a bad idea to jump to any conclusions until people have had more time to go over the data.

    You are being rather unreasonable in how you express things.

    The level of certainty is THEIR estimation of certainty. If you're wrong but think you're right then you're going to say you are very certain. If you made a mistake but didn't realize it then that isn't going to factor into your calculations.

    If you can find a mistake in their calculations, go right ahead. I suspect that you can't so why are you even attempting to say they made a mistake.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2012 @12:30AM (#40547915)

    Wrong, wrong. ATLAS and CMS are using different equipment and people, both have observed the Higgs in the same place. And it's not like the scientists all want to see the same result: everybody has their own pet theory (supersymmetry and such) which imply different results about the Higgs. There is just no way there was a conspiracy, the incentives aren't there.

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @02:03AM (#40548309)
    Neither you nor the parent remember any history at all. The only reason that the SSC was sited in the DFW area is because Jim Wright [wikipedia.org] (the Representative from DFW) just happened to be the Speaker of the House at the time. Everybody else on the planet wanted to site it at Fermilab, and use the existing equipment in situ, rather than starting from scratch. So, once again, politics trumped engineering.
  • by icebraining (1313345) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @03:39AM (#40548739) Homepage

    Where exactly in that post did PopeRatzo implied anything about religion or religious people? I think you have a bit of a persecution complex.

A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start, and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim. -- Leibnitz

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