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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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:28PM (#40545675)

    Mexico regrets the loss of Texas...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:42PM (#40546255)

      Texas can no longer claim "everything is bigger in Texas" I guess, since the LHC is the largest collider in the world.

  • Texas eh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mwfischer (1919758) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:29PM (#40545679) Journal

    If it's Texas.... should have said "God Particle" in the proposal.

    Eleventy billion dollar grant.

    • by denzacar (181829) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:37PM (#40545737) Journal

      should have said "God Particle" in the proposal.

      Eleventy billion dollar grant.

      Make that a God Particle Gun instead of "Superconducting Super Collider" and you're golden.

      • by catmistake (814204) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:42PM (#40545773) Journal

        If it's Texas.... should have said "God Particle" in the proposal.

        Eleventy billion dollar grant.

        Make that a God Particle Gun instead of "Superconducting Super Collider" and you're golden.

        If only a Texan would have caught them sneaking off with this stolen discovery, they could have legally murdered them.

    • Re:Texas eh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Creepy (93888) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:58PM (#40545921) Journal

      actually, for the book it was originally called the goddamn particle because it was so hard to find, then they cut out the damn (seriously!). I think Texas editors had something to do with it.

  • They should have recorded a song about discovering the Higgs Boson, then prepared to sue anyone who discovered it first.

    (not really, but the nerd in me would pay 0.99 on iTunes to fund their Super Collider music)

    -Matt

  • by dave420 (699308) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:33PM (#40545705)
    This is science, not a pissing contest. Where something is discovered is meaningless.
    • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:35PM (#40545715)
      When it is discovered, though, can have quite an impact on history.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:42PM (#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.

      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:38PM (#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 the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @09:45PM (#40546751)

          > It does? How does the US lead, when the LHC is in Switzerland?

          Of course it does. The LHC is just one facility in one fairly narrow field. It makes news because high energy physics is sexy.

          Nobel Prizes are awarded to people working in the US at a far greater rate than any other country. Even with recent gains by the rest of the world the US still wins more Nobels than the rest of the world combined.

          http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_nob_pri_lau-people-nobel-prize-laureates [nationmaster.com]

          • by mortonda (5175) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @11:46PM (#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 arth1 (260657) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:55AM (#40548261) Homepage Journal

            Nobel Prizes are awarded to people working in the US at a far greater rate than any other country. Even with recent gains by the rest of the world the US still wins more Nobels than the rest of the world combined.

            Corrected for population gives another picture.
            Nobel prizes per million citizens:

            Switzerland: 2.77
            Denmark: 2.33
            Great Britain: 1.51
            Austria: 1.30
            Ireland: 1.09
            Germany: 0.94
            Netherlands: 0.90
            USA: 0.86
            Belgium: 0.82
            France: 0.75

            I've excluded three countries, due to Sweden and Norway being subject to nationality bias, and Iceland not having enough people to be statistically significant with its single Nobel laureate.
            (Sweden: 3.16)
            (Iceland: 3.12)
            (Norway: 1.59)

            Also, keep in mind that several of the Nobel laureates moved between the time of their ground-breaking work and the time of receiving the award. Several to the US, because up until recently, the US paid well, and some to the UK and Switzerland, because the US wouldn't let communists in. This inflates the numbers for USA, Great Britain and Switzerland somewhat, but the trend is still clear - the US doesn't produce Nobel laureates at a higher tempo than all other countries.

    • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:55PM (#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 Grishnakh (216268)

        I don't really agree with this. As I said in another post here, I don't understand why these scientists are still in Texas. They're not prevented from doing science by the US government (and its lack of funding); nothing is stopping them from applying for a job at CERN in Switzerland where all this great work is going on. So in fact, maybe merit really is a factor here, because if they're being turned down for these jobs, that shows they probably aren't as good as the people who do get to work there.

        • by tftp (111690) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @10:07PM (#40546909) Homepage

          So in fact, maybe merit really is a factor here, because if they're being turned down for these jobs, that shows they probably aren't as good as the people who do get to work there.

          Or perhaps because CERN exists on limited funding and cannot hire every scientist in the world - even if CERN managers love the idea. If a particular place of research is unusually productive ... expect long lines at the gates.

          The experiments on LHC are scheduled years ahead. You cannot just come there, flip a switch and run your own experiment. It will cost millions in electric energy alone. CERN can sustain only a certain number of teams - or else they will be just sitting there and waiting for their time with the machine.

          Perhaps the scientists are employed by universities and have teaching jobs assigned to them. Then they cannot easily move without abandoning their students. (That would be legal but not very nice.)

          Theoretical physicists do not need to be near an experiment. Plenty of physics is done on paper (or in computers.) For those scientists Texas is just as good a place as any other.

      • by avandesande (143899) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:41PM (#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 Kohath (38547)

        Scientists should forget about the US then. We're going bankrupt. Within about 10 years, all government money will be used to pay for debt interest and entitlements.

      • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @10:17PM (#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 khallow (566160)

          The fact that it would have been discovered 10 years ago

          We don't call this a "fact", we call it an "opinion". My opinion is that the SSC was so poorly managed at the time, it might still not be running today.

  • by Nighttime (231023) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:36PM (#40545725) Homepage Journal

    ... they would have patented it then sued everyone for having mass.

  • Go congress! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by penguinbrat (711309) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @07:38PM (#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...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by metallurge (693631)
      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...
  • 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 Ironhandx (1762146) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:17PM (#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.

  • 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 AK Marc (707885)

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

      You state your unsubstantiated opinion as fact. Are you sure you are qualified to talk about "science"?

      Have you ever heard of the '60s? The "race to the moon" was important, and the space race was most assuredly focused on firsts by country.

      But I'm sure you have some reasoning on how that's irrelevant to now.

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

      It was over budget mainly because it was over time. It was over time because of the lengthy squabbles and any project being cancelable by the next administration. The projects are all over budget

    • by Tore S B (711705)

      Oh, god, this is stupid.

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

      Yep, but scientific advances in a country act as an indicator of the technological and scientific standing of the nation at large (which more often than not are are advanced by the investments in those scientific advancements).

      Think of the Apollo Space Program. Sure, it embiggened mankind, but the materials and computer competence required to build those rockets stayed in the US, and was just another government-funded cornerstone of the tech that made the US dominate the world economy to an extent that it's

  • 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.
    • by Kohath (38547) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:38PM (#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?

    • "What Americans should be doing is screaming that we have suffered ENOUGH of the politics that permeates today."

      Hear, hear.

      Take away their money, and it would stop pretty quickly. You can bet on it.

      Until you do, that won't get fixed.

      But while I agree with you about the result, don't go blaming it on Neocons. Neolibs have had JUST AS MUCH to do with it.

      • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @09:11PM (#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.

  • Now what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt&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?

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

      by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @08:35PM (#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 bmo (77928)

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

      People who say stuff like this typically imply such knowledge is useless.

      Basic scientific research never has immediate here-and-now effects. They may even be 100 years off in the future. Do you honestly think that Maxwell thought we'd be communicating over large distances because of his equations wirelessly as easily as we do?

      He unified electromagnetic theory in 1865. It took until the 1920s for b

  • Rant. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @09:45PM (#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

  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @09:57PM (#40546843) Journal

    The Tevatron in Illinois is capable of reaching 1 tera volts or 8 times as much energy the LHC needed to produce the Higgs.

    Seems to me the LHC found it because they were able to pull the signal out of the background which was more a data analysis feat than a "let's smash protons together even harder than we have before" feat.

    Then again, I'm not a physicist so perhaps I missed something.

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