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Particle Physicists in U.S. Worry About Being Left Behind

Posted March 06, 2013 1:46 PM

From The New York Times:

On a Sunday morning early in January, about two dozen prominent physicists gathered behind closed doors at the California Institute of Technology to ponder the state of their craft.

American physicists were not exactly sitting on the sidelines last July when CERN announced the probable discovery of the long-sought Higgs boson, the key to understanding the origin of mass and life in the universe.

The United States contributed $531 million to building and equipping the Large Hadron Collider, the multibillion-dollar European machine with which the discovery was made. About 1,200 Americans work at CERN, including Joe Incandela from the University of California, Santa Barbara, who led one of the two teams making the July announcement.

But as science goes forward, American particle physicists are wondering what role, if any, they will play in the future in high-energy physics - the search for the fundamental particles and forces of nature - a field they once dominated.

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#1

Re: Particle Physicists in U.S. Worry About Being Left Behind

03/06/2013 9:33 PM

From the article: "Maybe everybody is fighting to take command of a field that is dead." (Dr. Turner, of the University of Chicago)

Dead? Yeah, say that during a budget committee meeting in Congress or have the science adviser say that to Obama. Yeah, dead.

But hey, we have that great space station and all the great discoveries it's making.

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#2

Re: Particle Physicists in U.S. Worry About Being Left Behind

03/07/2013 1:25 PM

IMHO this is another indicator of something I feel (think?) is wrong with the direction the US is going, both in government and boardrooms. Very few with real power or resources wants to risk supporting activity that is not practically guaranteed to enrich themselves or investors.

US Money - "What profit will come from studying elemental physics?"

Physicist - "Well, we can't saw with certainty, but understanding the basic structure of matter and energy could lead to..."

US Money - "Well, with no certainty we certainly won't risk any money on it"

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