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Supercomputing Science

Supercomputer Adds Credence to Standard Model 120

ScienceDaily is reporting that researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Southampton in cooperation with partners from Japan and the US have shed some light on the Standard Model of physics using a new computer model. "The project's enormously complex calculations relate to the behavior of tiny particles found in the nuclei of atoms, known as quarks. In order to carry out these calculations, the researchers first designed and built a supercomputer that was among the fastest in the world, capable of tens of trillions of calculations per second. The computations themselves have taken a further three years to complete. Their result shows that the Standard Model's claim to be the best theory invented holds firm. It raises the stakes for the riddle to be solved by experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which will switch on later this year. Physicists' efforts to confront Standard Model predictions using the most powerful computers available with the most precise experiments offer no clues about what to expect."
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Supercomputer Adds Credence to Standard Model

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  • by jnana ( 519059 ) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:36PM (#22607580) Journal

    All this has done is said "We made a computer program that gives us the results we would expect from running this computer program."

    No, it's not nothing more than a tautology as you're implying. You're ignoring the nature of the program, which aims to embody the standard model well enough to make predictions about reality for phenomena that it's not been possible to directly observe. It's a little more than just a program that spits out arbitrary but predictable results, since the results do in fact have some relation to reality. If the model is any good at all, the correspondence will be very good.

    Nothing in computer modeling makes a connection to reality and truth.

    You must also believe that computer models of aerodynamics that predict a racecar will experience less drag than a Hummer also have no connection to reality and truth. I'd argue that to the extent that a model makes accurate predictions again and again, there is some connection to reality and truth.

  • Re:Higgs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:43PM (#22607604) Homepage Journal
    I'm pretty sure Fermilab found the Higgs on a few occaisions. It's just that procedure calls for a certain number of data points before making such claims. It's still quite possible that Fermilab will announce solid findings on the Higgs before the LHC really even picks up steam. Either way, we should know in the next couple of years.

    I for one am hoping they find something totally unexpected with the LHC.
  • by kestasjk ( 933987 ) on Friday February 29, 2008 @11:51PM (#22607866) Homepage

    Gravity -- certainly the weakest force -- is completely irrelevant as far as the physics of elementary particles is concerned.
    Unless you're talking about the big bang, which is what this computation is all about trying to understand.
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:39AM (#22608050) Journal
    "Why would something I can describe in math be any more real?"

    Don't know, but it often is - perhaps maths is just mapping the functioning of our perceptions. Anyway because math has been usefull we continue to use it to model the real world and make testable predictions. TFA is describing a prediction that the LHC may falsify.
  • Re:Mersenne prime (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) * on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:46AM (#22608460) Homepage Journal
    Ooops! Please ignore my previous post.
  • by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @10:41AM (#22609704) Homepage
    What he really means is that newtonian physics are completely against his ideology (postmodernism) and therefore must be wrong.

    FOR NOW it hasn't been proven that quantummechanics doesn't allow postmodern thought, although it HAS been proven that it's "limit" (ie. when we're not talking about trillionths of a second but about tenths) that it does indeed not allow the many-worlds view of the postmodernists.

    This is a necessity to allow for the magic thinking that is required for postmodern interpretations of ... well anything. "Every truth is equal". At first glance quantum mechanics allows this, while newtonian physics does not.

    This is obviously the real issue Einstein was referring to with his famous "God does not play dice".

    Then again, to anyone with an ounce of sense it is clear that the postmodern interpretation of science is bullshit in the extreme. In fact it's worse. Science cannot co-exist with postmodernism, because it's basic premises are the exact reverse :

    -> postmodernism : there is more than one truth (and so my truth is a valid one, and taken in the extreme : an electron will move however I think it moves)
    -> science : there is a singular truth for everyone, and everything (ie. an electron behaves the same, whatever my theory about it's movement)

    The problem is that many, many other ideas are absolutely dependant on postmodernism. Multiculturalism, for obvious reasons, is utterly dependant on this (wrong) interpretation. As is anything more atheist than agnosticism.

    The real scientific way of thinking about the world is simple : there is one, singular set of laws that define the absolute, unchanging truth. These are completely dogmatic, and utterly independent of any human. There can be no votes about the truth, there can be no changing the truth, it is absolute. AND (and this is where a lot of "radical" people go wrong) we DO NOT know this truth (but we know a hell of a lot about it, and we know a hell of a lot of truths that certainly aren't correct).

    Obviously this means that the universe itself has what could be called a "state religion". You'll get your ass kicked, by the proverbial God(s) themselves, unless your ideology/religion matches certain absolute truths.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman