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Announcements Science

Fermilab Not Dead Yet, Discovers Rare Single Top Quark 194

Several sources are reporting that in spite of LHC hype, Fermilab's Tevatron has produced another feat for scientific discovery. Currently the world's most powerful operating particle accelerator, the Tevatron has allowed researchers to observe a rare single Top Quark. "Previously, top quarks had only been observed when produced by the strong nuclear force. That interaction leads to the production of pairs of top quarks. The production of single top quarks, which involves the weak nuclear force and is harder to identify experimentally, has now been observed, almost 14 years to the day of the top quark discovery in 1995."
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Fermilab Not Dead Yet, Discovers Rare Single Top Quark

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  • Re:I wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jamamala ( 983884 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @07:21PM (#27128183)
    How about explaining why protons have a +1 charge and neutrons have no charge? I'd say that's pretty useful. Ditto with explaining the charge of the anti-nucleons.
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @07:51PM (#27128463) Journal

    Fermilab seemed to be counted out, no longer useful, with the advent of the LHC? How many recent science ventures turned out to be more useful than originally thought, and initially thought less useful than a replacement?

    Space station? Hubble telescope? Mars rovers? ... you get the point. Why would anyone count Fermilab out? I just find that odd. Sure, it doesn't have the professed capabilities of the LHC, but then neither does the LHC right now. I seem to remember something about not fixing it if it ain't broke being relatively true.

    I expect more from Fermilab too.

    This is so much like American Idol or something ... gah!

  • Re:I wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dtremenak ( 893336 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @07:59PM (#27128525)

    Interesting, perhaps, but not useful.

    All the more reason to teach it. We should be trying to get students interested in science.

  • by DrBuzzo ( 913503 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @08:25PM (#27128819) Homepage
    Ferbilab dead? Oh that must be because of the fact that the LHC is now the biggest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world, or will be once it starts again. Fermilab will only have the second most powerful one, which clearly is useless, right?

    Right... So by this logic every piece of scientific equipment in the world, no matter how capable or useful is not even worth keeping up once it is no longer the number 1 on earth. So lets just abandon all the telescope observatories in the world except for the largest. Then, when someone builds a bigger once, the previous largest will be second largest and therefore useless.

    Lets also scrap all the super computers in the world except for the most powerful one. Then when someone build a more powerful one, we'll scrap that one.

    The point being: it is still as useful as it ever was. There are energy levels that the LHC can achieve, but there are more than enough researchers who would just about kill to get time on any of the top 50 particle accelerators in the world.
  • Re:And (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FiniteSum ( 1409667 ) <> on Monday March 09, 2009 @08:25PM (#27128821)
    The minute you try to make scientific research into a commodity like this, you will kill all scientific research. Do you think 19th century physicists had iPhones in mind when they were creating rudimentary batteries and experimenting with electromagnetism? Do you think Maxwell only published his famous paper so he could enable the creation of hybrid cars? Could anyone have predicted digital computers? Hell, could the inventors of digital computers have predicted modern desktops?
  • Re:And (Score:5, Insightful)

    by metlin ( 258108 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @10:52PM (#27130073) Journal

    Ha. Fourier was proud of being a pure mathematician. Today, his works are amongst the most applied in just about every digital processing system.

  • Re:And (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lorenlal ( 164133 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @11:04PM (#27130165)

    Agreed. Moderators were distracted by the plethora of particular humor above, and didn't notice that this post that was marked "redundant" was posted WAY before most of the jokes above. At 7:43 this was a perfectly legit comment.

    Please mods, correct this. This only encourages usage of the FRPoR (first reasonable post or reply) for all future moderation or karma gains. This was quite funny, and I am giving CaptainPatent a +1 in my mind.

  • Re:And (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:25AM (#27131067)
    I think you need to look at the original post again which refers instead to justification. Scientific research which is publicly funded should be treated no differently than any other endeavor that does so. So as I see it, there are several matters which need justification:
    1. Is the research worthwhile? Contrary to your assertion above, I believe we can evaluate potential research. Several of the discoveries you mention had near future value. Fundamental physics research has long shown value, being connected to many of the most important advances the human race has ever made.
    2. Can the research be done better by private industry? For example, virtually all desktop computer development was private. For a more scientific example, miniaturization of electronics, fiber optics, and similar IT-related technologies are mostly privately funded. Research particle accelerators don't yet have the near future application that usually drives private endeavors.
    3. Is the money being spent in a responsible and effective manner?

    If these reasonable justifications will "destroy" "scientific research", then by all means destroy whatever that is.

  • Re:And (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MarkRose ( 820682 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:45AM (#27131399) Homepage

    Yep, it descretely walked the planck a while ago...

  • Re:And (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Plutonite ( 999141 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:15AM (#27131501)

    I know, right? Let's stop trying to understand universal truths that are important enough to transcend human beings and their planet and their entire existence, and instead go back to being lowly pointless animals. Where were you since antiquity, you savior you?

    Tax payers have funded worse things than science. By your logic, most of pure mathematics should not be funded or encouraged either, in which case neither you nor JFK would have ever thought twice about the moon (that bright thing in the heavens), and your talk of nuclear physics would get you burnt at a stake. Knowledge is more important than breeding.

  • Re:And (Score:4, Insightful)

    by w0mprat ( 1317953 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:46AM (#27131619)

    The Internet was not invented at CERN -- it was invented by DARPA back in 1969

    Not quite. DARPAnet was hardly 'Internet' as we know it, since the Internet is best defined as a collection of protocols and so much has changed since the DARPA days. For one example it used NCP to move data, TCP/IP and DNS were to follow in the 80's. BGP was standardised even later (1989). The internet as we know it was whole by the time the web was ready, but by then removed enough from what was happening with DARPAnet. Right now, we're yet to see true Internet 2.0 be ready (IPV6, DNSSEC whatever the hell else), but at some point all the old protocols will be redundant and you could say the internet has been replaced.

    Particle physics is generating huge volumes of data. I remember hearing about physicists needing to move a 40 terabyte set of data internationally in 1996 -- in the end they had to do it by a literal container load of disks. Today worldwide research networks (Yes, Internet 2.0, cliche) can move this data over fibre in practical time frames. LHC will be producing mind boggling amounts.

    It's this kind of bleeding edge usage of the internet that is driving infrastructure development forward. Dollars spent at Fermi lab and the like have nontrivial indirect benefits this way. I would argue that the pool of research money that drove universities to need to connect up internationally and spawn the Internet 1.0 has much more than been paid off in gains to the global economy.

    That's the justification for keeping this research going even in a worldwide recession.

  • Re:And (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kohaku ( 797652 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @05:47AM (#27132155)
    No, no, no! This is not a healthy line of thought! There is absolutely no way you can predict with certainty the future benefits of any scientific research. Even electricity was of uncertain value []. The very point of public funding is for research whose benefits aren't obvious, but whose results are a benefit to science as a whole. You say that you believe it is possible to 'evaluate potential research'. How do you go about doing that? What are your criteria? Does research which has no practical application whatsoever but advances understanding of the whole get swept under the carpet?
    One might argue that without establishments such as the Royal Society, a lot of great scientists in Great Britain might never have been able to publish.
  • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @09:13AM (#27133355) Homepage

    Fission doesn't have to be the wasteful, inefficient, and proliferation-prone mess that it is today. There are more efficient, less proliferation-prone ways [] to provide fission-based power than wasting 98%+ of the energy in the fuel rods and storing the 'waste' in the open.

    Most estimates place the reserves of usable fuel for breeders at 600,000+ years at current consumption. That's not bad!

    I agree that fusion may well be the best answer, but do we have the luxury of waiting for it to be ready for prime time? I think we should invest in breeder technology until we can get fusion up and running reliably.

A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author. -- S. C. Johnson