America's lost Large Hadron Collider
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Author:  johnson1010 [ Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:30 am ]
Post subject:  America's lost Large Hadron Collider

In another thread I brought up that the LHC at CERN was less expensive to construct than Donald Trump's ludicrous and aggressively bigoted border wall proposal between the US and Mexico. Somebody jokingly said that we should let China build the next LHC.

That's not such a great idea.

If we had built the Super Collider that we had planned we would have attracted thousands of the worlds most brilliant minds to our country to do work on this subject.

We would be positioned as a world leader in science and technology again, instead of standing on the sidelines while someone else, somewhere else does what we used to do in the 60's and 70's.

Studies have been done which show that these kinds of scientific endeavors produce more dollars than they spend.

How would they do that? What do we do with the fact that the Higgs Boson exists and we found it? Well, we aren't immediately going to make a better battery with it, or a generator, or drive train. Right now the knowledge we have about the Higgs Boson is as useless as when Heinrich Hertz discovered radio waves.

I do not think that the radio waves I have discovered will have any practical application.
-Heinrich Hertz

But knowing fundamental physics means we know more about how the world works. And when you know how the world works you know how to GET it to work for you. Though the Higgs field may or may not eventually lead to any particular invention all on it's own there is no doubt that all the effort expended in the search for it certainly does yield results.

When you are pushing the boundaries of science you necessarily push the boundaries of technology.


This is not off the rack gear. Making this means making better circuitry, magnets, computing storage mechanisms, algorithms and information processing techniques.

You can't cram higgs bosons into a jar and have a better fire extinguisher... but the technological expertise required to find the higgs boson means better technological know-how all around. To make THAT magnet work we had to make magnets better. And that information will spread. The Higgs field, by the way, was just what was expected to be found there. Whatever comes next will be more exciting than that for particle physicists and lead to actual new science.

Just having all of these minds in the same place working and playing together produces value far far far in excess of the 9 billion dollars it took to build the LHC. The most obvious example is the internet. The internet was invented at CERN by particle physicists who wanted an easier way to share particle physics experiment data with eachother.

Now people's lives in the developed countries revolve around the internet.

Author:  LanDroid [ Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: America's lost Large Hadron Collider

Somebody jokingly said that we should let China build the next LHC.
That's not such a great idea.

I wasn't joking, China is building the next LHC. "The final concept design for the project is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2016" and will be much bigger than CERN. Now for America to benefit from an LHC of our own, we'd have to build one much larger than China's system unless we want to replicate previous experiments. How big would the largest LHC have to be and at what cost? Sorry, but America has already proved we don't have the backbone to accomplish that. (Unless we tie the biggest LHC to improved military weapons, then it would be a very easy sell. "There is a MASSIVE WEAPONS GAP - China is WAY ahead of the U.S.! We are ALL GOING TO DIE!")

IIRC, in addition to rising budgets, one of the criticisms of the cancelled super-collider in Texas was that investment for nuclear physicists, the high priests of science, was sucking dollars away from other science projects making it more difficult to fund anything else. Perhaps a better approach would be a large number of smaller international projects related to anti-aging, life extension, disease prevention, efficient food supplies, disease cures, renewable energy, carbon reduction, mental health, and so on that help everyone and could save massive amounts of money in the long run. And as you say, all these technologies would unleash other unforeseen benefits. Is it a higher priority for America to discover the next sub-atomic particle or, for one example, a cure for Alzheimer's?

Author:  Harry Marks [ Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: America's lost Large Hadron Collider

Hello. Just wanted to jump in to mention that a CERN friend from Geneva took a job at one of the multiple mini-colliders being put up around Europe. Apparently they have genuine medical applications already. Who knew?

I gather that CERN is ramping down employment now that the Higgs is found (they still have something like four major enquiries going on, including at least one that may help to understand fundamental aspects of physics, but they don't seem to keep quite so many employed.) So it is kind of an interesting idea, politically, economically and scientifically, that mini-colliders can carry on some of their technical excellence.

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