Wednesday, July 04, 2012

New Boson Particle and American Loss

Not all news from Europe is bad, here is a good one from Europe! 

Some random thoughts in this regard.

- Of the bat, 4th of July is a good day to announce this discovery as Media in USA is all sleepy, there is much less mischief of our politicians to report and you would get good coverage.

- The newly discovered Boson is not yet confirmed as Higgs Boson. Scientists are fully cognizant of possibilities of 'deviations' in further data which may prompt them to look beyond their standard theories. More data will bring additional evidence to either identify the particle as expected, solidifying their prevailing models; or flood gates would open for new theories. In either case LHC is going to be busy for long time to come, this announcement may be just the beginning of what all would be discovered there in years to come.

- Quite a British affair this is turning out to be - original theoretician from UK, the person behind needed politicking and the guy who built LHC both are British (though Science Team Leads are from California and Italy). UK still punches above its belt when it comes to Science (or organizing Sports, Wimbeldon & Olympics!).

- In 1990s European nations made a right bet of starting small to medium scale particle collider while Americans were into their hubris. It took time to fructify, but through perseverance and international collaboration,  Europeans have achieved something which is significant to humanity. There is still a long way to go and still substantial Public Funding is needed. What this announcement says is the whole LHC project is alive, it is not a sink hole and indeed it is producing promising results. Point is amassing of around 10,000 brightest minds of humanity (scientists and engineers) is not going astray. 

- The CERN associated popular culture and rightful tendency to boast about international collaboration are in a way a mechanism to inoculate LHC Project from periodic spasms of 'save taxer payers money' tendencies of politicians to cut funding for such core scientific projects. 

- Advances in other areas of Physics and Science are complementary to what happens at LHC. In that sense science practiced at LHC will be cardinal in all respect.

- In other words, not only get used to news of advances in particle physics coming from Europe (and potentially flow of Noble Prizes going to British and European Scientists); it is very likely experiments and Science happening at LHC would start playing probably the central role for years to come. In Market parlance, CERN & LHC are uniquely positioned to increase, guard and retain their lead position not only in one area but expand in other areas as well with no significant competition coming from any other corner.

- "Abandoning the SSC at this point would signal that the United States is compromising its position of leadership in basic science

-- Bill Clinton

It seems that Clinton's lament was not just true, but consequences are likely to be far more serious than envisaged then. (I would say lack of leadership from Texas in killing SSC has much lasting impact than what Gail Collins worries about Texas.) Even if USA or anyone decides to build any such collider in years to come, by then LHC would have 'cleaned the room' as far as consequential discoveries to be done. And of course USA does not have any spare money, nor ascendant God fearing Tea Party would allow spending any money on such hard core science. The best what USA can do and should do, is support CERN financially and get actively involved. The way things are happening, CERN is unlikely to remain (or should not remain) just an European affair, but rather would be a premium global organization with equally  substantive participation from everywhere. As far as People goes, that is already happenning and kudos to Europeans for this openness. But may be from resource perspective also, more international funding could be a way to go. That is where the next President of USA and future Congress can salvage some of the damage they inflicted years back. (Writing all this on our Independence Day is so enthralling...well fireworks tonight will lighten the mood.)



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