Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to go offline for a year [Poll]

LHC, the right direction?

  • I'm confident that the LHC will produce results, it's worth the money

    Votes: 26 49.1%
  • I'm unsure if it will produce results, but nothing ventured nothing gained

    Votes: 17 32.1%
  • The potential is there, but the chance of success is too small making it unworthy of the cost

    Votes: 7 13.2%
  • Absolute waste of time and money, we're not ready for this yet

    Votes: 2 3.8%
  • I really don't care, wonder what's happening over at TMZ..

    Votes: 1 1.9%

  • Total voters
    53

niuniu

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Hasn't been up for long after the accident in 2008, and they're only going to run it at half power for a while then bring it down for a year as they're concerned about what seems to be build quality due to lack of funds and manpower. The design isn't at fault of course the director is keen to point out.

Waste of money, or will it produce something useful? Major scientific breakthroughs have slowed down, perhaps we really do need big bold experiments to find the data to understand the world around us. Or maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves and should have waited a couple of decades before designing epics like the LHC where the technology meant it was more stable and cheaper to build?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8556621.stm
 

Chundles

macrumors G4
Jul 4, 2005
11,981
363
"Big Science" like this is important. The LHC needs to work, this sort of stuff is what takes us forward as a species.
 

iBlue

macrumors Core
Mar 17, 2005
19,174
15
London, England
... perhaps we really do need big bold experiments to find the data to understand the world around us. ...
What do you propose instead?


I voted that I'm confident it's worth the money because of its potential, which many of us barely comprehend, myself included. I am a big believer in nothing ventured, nothing gained, and exploring anything that can improve upon our understanding.

Get well soon, LHC!
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
Original poster
What do you propose instead?
I don't, I ticked nothing ventured nothing gained, but I can see things form several points of view.

We're not going to make any big breakthroughs at this point with basement labs. Those days are behind us. It will take huge international focus to make a series of small discoveries that will add up to give us an understanding. The LHC may be a complete failure, we may look back on it and think it was premature. But we'll learn something from it, even if it's how to build a better one in future.
 

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Jul 19, 2002
15,630
3
キャンプスワ&#
Science needs to be bold.

Nothing is guaranteed. Even in failure, something is learned.

The key is to keep going.

(Note: I'm not saying that the LHC is a failure. My comments are general in nature.)
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,264
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
The design isn't at fault of course the director is keen to point out.
That's not just bureaucratic babble- the design is well over 2 decades old at this point. There's not really any surprises left. The incident in September 09 was a machining/materials defect, not a pure design flaw in the sense that "this would never work."
Waste of money, or will it produce something useful?
Science does not aim to produce "useful" results in the sense that it will affect the general public's every day life.
Major scientific breakthroughs have slowed down
:confused: Depending on definition, "major scientific breakthroughs" happen once every century or so.

...perhaps we really do need big bold experiments to find the data to understand the world around us.
Depends on the field. Particle physics hasn't been an individual endeavor since the early 20th century. The experiments have just gotten too big and too technically complex for one person, institution, or even a single country to manage (and fund) on their own.

Or maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves and should have waited a couple of decades before designing epics like the LHC where the technology meant it was more stable and cheaper to build?
Waiting "a couple of decades" would not make anything cheaper. If anything it would be more expensive. In any case the LHC is not very expensive in the grand scheme of things. 10 billion US dollars over 20 years spread across the budgets of around 75 countries is nothing.

The LHC may be a complete failure, we may look back on it and think it was premature. But we'll learn something from it, even if it's how to build a better one in future.
We've already learned a lot from it. Granted, most of the "gains" at this point are not purely scientific, but in engineering and collaboration. The LHC's scale is unprecedented, and CERN had to step up big time in order to provide the procedural and logistical infrastructure to support it. Having worked there and at several other national laboratories in several different countries, CERN is unique, cosmopolitan, and the center of the particle physics world for the forseeable future whether or not the collider is up and running.
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
Original poster
That's not just bureaucratic babble- the design is well over 2 decades old at this point. There's not really any surprises left. The incident in September 09 was a machining/materials defect, not a pure design flaw in the sense that "this would never work."


Science does not aim to produce "useful" results in the sense that it will affect the general public's every day life.


:confused: Depending on definition, "major scientific breakthroughs" happen once every century or so.



Depends on the field. Particle physics hasn't been an individual endeavor since the early 20th century. The experiments have just gotten too big and too technically complex for one person, institution, or even a single country to manage (and fund) on their own.



Waiting "a couple of decades" would not make anything cheaper. If anything it would be more expensive. In any case the LHC is not very expensive in the grand scheme of things. 10 billion US dollars over 20 years spread across the budgets of around 75 countries is nothing.



We've already learned a lot from it. Granted, most of the "gains" at this point are not purely scientific, but in engineering and collaboration. The LHC's scale is unprecedented, and CERN had to step up big time in order to provide the procedural and logistical infrastructure to support it. Having worked there and at several other national laboratories in several different countries, CERN is unique, cosmopolitan, and the center of the particle physics world for the forseeable future whether or not the collider is up and running.
I'm not sure about some of those, some of them are thoughts that crossed my mind as well. Take for example the design. If the began designing the LHC 20 years from now, I doubt it would be the same, and I really doubt that the LHC would be more expensive to produce 20 years from now than it had been. Neither of us can predict the future, but manufacturing processes do develop, as do solutions to design problems.

As for there being breakthroughs, well yes obviously it depends on definition, and field. I think your definition of 1 per century isn't accurate by any list I can see. Maybe you can list what you think these are? I had a look at the Discovery Channels top 100 this morning, and even though we're at our peak technologically, we've discovered very little since the 70s. Isn't fair to think that the more advanced we are, the faster the rate of discovery should be?

The cost of the LHC isn't fixed, it's last repair cost 24million GBP, and the work it needs and will continue to need will push it beyond initial estimates. Money is needed all over the world, 10 Billion in aid to Africa isn't nothing. It produces very real results. Wheras 10 billion for the LHC, might not produce much at all compared to smaller scale experiments and their results. CERN are already saying they didn't have enough money.

You say that a lot has been learned already, in terms of engineering and collaboration. Great. But this was public money, and we want science from it, and a justification of the cost.
 

barkomatic

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2008
4,027
1,798
Manhattan
Since the world has pretty much dropped bold space exploration/research except for a few boring probes sent out every once in a while and maybe a new space telescope -- I think its worthwhile to spend money on big projects like the LHC. It's disappointing to hear about delay after delay on it however. The more that happens, the more the project loses credibility and the more likely it will be halted at some point. It would be awful to have such an expensive, promising facility abandoned with flooded tunnels and rats crawling around.
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,264
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
Take for example the design. If the began designing the LHC 20 years from now, I doubt it would be the same, and I really doubt that the LHC would be more expensive to produce 20 years from now than it had been. Neither of us can predict the future, but manufacturing processes do develop, as do solutions to design problems.
Ok. That's your uninformed opinion, I guess. I'm not discounting the possibility of new and innovative methods of doing such-and-such thing, but there are only so many ways you can inject a beam of protons into a magnetic field. That really hasn't changed since the 1940s. As for the expense, inflation alone would play a big role. It already has.

I think your definition of 1 per century isn't accurate by any list I can see. Maybe you can list what you think these are?
For physics,

1500s- Copernicus/heliocentricity
1600s- Theory of gravity
1700s- Bernoulli/Thermodynamic formalism
1800s- Faraday/induction, Maxwell/electromagnetism
1900s- Einstein/relativity, Feynman/QED

Again...all definition. I'm not going to pursue this any further because it's completely subjective.

I had a look at the Discovery Channels top 100 this morning, and even though we're at our peak technologically, we've discovered very little since the 70s.
I don't think I'd agree with that at all.

Isn't fair to think that the more advanced we are, the faster the rate of discovery should be?
No, because not all problems are equally difficult to solve.

The cost of the LHC isn't fixed, it's last repair cost 24million GBP, and the work it needs and will continue to need will push it beyond initial estimates.
How is that different from any other large-scale engineering project ever?

Money is needed all over the world, 10 Billion in aid to Africa isn't nothing. It produces very real results.
Science produces very real results as well. Not really sure what you're getting at here.

You say that a lot has been learned already, in terms of engineering and collaboration. Great. But this was public money, and we want science from it, and a justification of the cost.
"The public" won't (and doesn't) appreciate the results of pure science until it makes its way into the mainstream economic system that most of us relate to. I'm a little confused as to what you're actually arguing at this point- on one hand you say you want "real" results (in the same sense as aid to Africa) to which I provided two general examples, but then change your story and start demanding "science" from the project which "might not produce much at all compared to smaller experiments" (whatever that means). They're not necessarily different things...

I'd also suggest that if you want to single out a waste of taxpayer money that has given very little of anything for the cost, start lobbying your government to end funding for the International Space Station. As far as I can tell, not a single thing has been learned from the ISS that would even come close to justifying even a fraction of its cost.
 

ucfgrad93

macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
17,530
8,151
Colorado
Science needs to be bold.

Nothing is guaranteed. Even in failure, something is learned.

The key is to keep going.

(Note: I'm not saying that the LHC is a failure. My comments are general in nature.)
Agreed, at this point, I say try and fix it.
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Ok. That's your uninformed opinion, I guess. I'm not discounting the possibility of new and innovative methods of doing such-and-such thing, but there are only so many ways you can inject a beam of protons into a magnetic field. That really hasn't changed since the 1940s. As for the expense, inflation alone would play a big role. It already has.



For physics,

1500s- Copernicus/heliocentricity
1600s- Theory of gravity
1700s- Bernoulli/Thermodynamic formalism
1800s- Faraday/induction, Maxwell/electromagnetism
1900s- Einstein/relativity, Feynman/QED

Again...all definition. I'm not going to pursue this any further because it's completely subjective.



I don't think I'd agree with that at all.



No, because not all problems are equally difficult to solve.



How is that different from any other large-scale engineering project ever?



Science produces very real results as well. Not really sure what you're getting at here.



"The public" won't (and doesn't) appreciate the results of pure science until it makes its way into the mainstream economic system that most of us relate to. I'm a little confused as to what you're actually arguing at this point- on one hand you say you want "real" results (in the same sense as aid to Africa) to which I provided two general examples, but then change your story and start demanding "science" from the project which "might not produce much at all compared to smaller experiments" (whatever that means). They're not necessarily different things...

I'd also suggest that if you want to single out a waste of taxpayer money that has given very little of anything for the cost, start lobbying your government to end funding for the International Space Station. As far as I can tell, not a single thing has been learned from the ISS that would even come close to justifying even a fraction of its cost.
I said earlier that I was pro-LHC. I think you make the mistake of assuming that someone who poses a question is against something. You should re-read all the posts..
 

djellison

macrumors 68020
Feb 2, 2007
2,228
4
Pasadena CA
That news story is a total misrepresentation of the facts. The 18 months of science followed by 12 months of engineering down time were planned from the get go. That's what happens with things like the LHC. You use it. You improve it. You learn some more. You use it some more. You improve it some more.


Let us not forget, the LHC is at CERN. And we all use a near accidental spin-off of the research there very time we open a browser.
 

Mousse

macrumors 68020
Apr 7, 2008
2,047
2,674
Flea Bottom, King's Landing
I'd be all for it IF they had to resources and manpower to run the thing at full power, but half assing it? Meh. What's the point? The could do the same experiments on smaller colliders already in service.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,986
We've already collected a significant amount of data from the collisions it's done already, whose results won't be figured out for months to come.
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Check the second-to-last paragraph of post #9 in this thread for an example.
You said that 10 Billion was nothing. I said that it was. And could be put to immediate and good sue elsewhere. You responded by saying that 'science produces very real results'. But we're not talking about science generally. We're talking specifically about this LHC, which so far hasn't produced any results.

What's this inconsistency about? I don't get that. Do you mean you disagree? That's fine, I just don't know what inconsistency mean, especially if you use post 9 second to last para as the example :confused:
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,264
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
You said that 10 Billion was nothing. I said that it was. And could be put to immediate and good sue elsewhere.
The 10 billion was never going to go to Africa in the first place, because it came out of the member states' science budgets. It was already allocated to science, not to aid to wherever, defense, or whatever else. Moot point as far as debating the merits of the LHC is concerned.

You responded by saying that 'science produces very real results'. But we're not talking about science generally. We're talking specifically about this LHC, which so far hasn't produced any results.
Which is absolutely untrue, as I've already implied and as NT1440 pointed out explicitly. In addition the LHC has produced several thousand PhD theses, employed thousands of construction workers around the world, and fostered a spirit of international cooperation that politicians should be envious of.

What's this inconsistency about? I don't get that. Do you mean you disagree? That's fine, I just don't know what inconsistency mean, especially if you use post 9 second to last para as the example :confused:
I think I'm just not understanding how you're distinguishing "real results" from "scientific results." Why aren't "scientific results" considered "real results" ?
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
Original poster
The 10 billion was never going to go to Africa in the first place, because it came out of the member states' science budgets. It was already allocated to science, not to aid to wherever, defense, or whatever else. Moot point as far as debating the merits of the LHC is concerned.



Which is absolutely untrue, as I've already implied and as NT1440 pointed out explicitly. In addition the LHC has produced several thousand PhD theses, employed thousands of construction workers around the world, and fostered a spirit of international cooperation that politicians should be envious of.



I think I'm just not understanding how you're distinguishing "real results" from "scientific results." Why aren't "scientific results" considered "real results" ?

Current results from the LHC

Current Results

The first p-p collisions at energies higher than Fermilab's Tevatron p-pbar collisions have been published on arXiv, yielding greater-than-predicted charged hadron production.[41] The CMS paper reports that the increase in the production rate of charged hadrons when the center-of-mass energy goes from 0.9 TeV to 2.36 TeV exceeds the predictions of the theoretical models used in the analysis, with the excess ranging from 10% to 14%, depending upon which model is used. The charged hadrons were primarily mesons (kaons and pions).[42]


--------

Worth 10 Billion? No. Not in my view or many others. And there could be 10000 PD thesis, but you know what, I'd rather save 10,000 lives. Which that 10 billion could have done and more.

The money could be used to enhance science in areas such as GM foods or what have you to save lives in Africa. Use it for HIV, Cancer - all that's science too. Cleaner fuel. But that's not the point.

The point is a simple one.

It's that the LHC is a risk, it may not produce what we all want. And that's not incremental knowledge that the hadron produced from such and such a collision was greater than expected. It's the finding of certain theorised particles that could explain the universe around us. Then many of us will say, yeah 10 Billion, that was worth it.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,986
Current results from the LHC

Current Results

The first p-p collisions at energies higher than Fermilab's Tevatron p-pbar collisions have been published on arXiv, yielding greater-than-predicted charged hadron production.[41] The CMS paper reports that the increase in the production rate of charged hadrons when the center-of-mass energy goes from 0.9 TeV to 2.36 TeV exceeds the predictions of the theoretical models used in the analysis, with the excess ranging from 10% to 14%, depending upon which model is used. The charged hadrons were primarily mesons (kaons and pions).[42]


--------

Worth 10 Billion? No. Not in my view or many others. And there could be 10000 PD thesis, but you know what, I'd rather save 10,000 lives. Which that 10 billion could have done and more.

The money could be used to enhance science in areas such as GM foods or what have you to save lives in Africa. Use it for HIV, Cancer - all that's science too. Cleaner fuel. But that's not the point.

The point is a simple one.

It's that the LHC is a risk, it may not produce what we all want. And that's not incremental knowledge that the hadron produced from such and such a collision was greater than expected. It's the finding of certain theorised particles that could explain the universe around us. Then many of us will say, yeah 10 Billion, that was worth it.
Do you understand how science works? Many if not most of the worlds most important discoveries happen to come about while studying other things. The LHC is also not a one use machine, many many researchers are lining up just to have access to the damn thing for uses other than finding that one mysterious particle.
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Do you understand how science works? Many if not most of the worlds most important discoveries happen to come about while studying other things. The LHC is also not a one use machine, many many researchers are lining up just to have access to the damn thing for uses other than finding that one mysterious particle.
Yeah, but it's public money at the end of the day. And a lot of it gets misdirected. The world has huge problems yet we see reports of monkeys sharing food being discovered.

Look if you guys can't see the point between science that saves lives, and science for the pursuit of knowledge that's fine. Be a zealot. I do support the LHC, but I do understand the criticisms levelled at the project.

But of course, you're the only one who understands 'how science works'. Because I hear so many real scientists using that expression :confused:
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,986
Yeah, but it's public money at the end of the day. And a lot of it gets misdirected. The world has huge problems yet we see reports of monkeys sharing food being discovered.

Look if you guys can't see the point between science that saves lives, and science for the pursuit of knowledge that's fine. Be a zealot. I do support the LHC, but I do understand the criticisms levelled at the project.

But of course, you're the only one who understands 'how science works'. Because I hear so many real scientists using that expression :confused:
I understand the criticisms too, but do you really think if the money wasn't spend on the LHC (which provides and provided MANY jobs all over the world) do you really think it would have been thrown into cancer research or something?

These things are rarely option A or option B.
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,264
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
Worth 10 Billion? No. Not in my view or many others. And there could be 10000 PD thesis, but you know what, I'd rather save 10,000 lives. Which that 10 billion could have done and more.
You have zero evidence to support your posit that 10 billion dollars translates into saving 10,000 lives. In addition, you conveniently neglect to acknowledge that money from science budgets would not be put towards that sort of thing in the first place.

The money could be used to enhance science in areas such as GM foods or what have you to save lives in Africa. Use it for HIV, Cancer - all that's science too. Cleaner fuel. But that's not the point.
Throwing money at a problem only goes so far, and those particular industries aren't exactly hurting for financial support.

It's that the LHC is a risk, it may not produce what we all want.
How is it any less of a risk than investing in any of the things you mentioned before? Last I checked cancer wasn't cured, HIV is still running rampant, and "cleaner fuel" (which for the sake of argument I'll consider things such as renewable energy, hydrogen fuel, clean coal, or widespread distribution and use of solar/wind/hydro power) isn't exactly rewriting history. Does that mean that we should stop investing in those technologies as well? If you decline to fund something because it "may not produce the desired result", you're going to have a whole lot of cash sitting around doing nothing.

To go along with your "aid to Africa" line of reasoning, what makes you think that will "produce what we want" ? The US tried aiding Afghanistan and that didn't exactly turn out as planned. The UK in 1939 appeased Hitler and that didn't turn out as well as Chamberlain thought it would either. Arguing that there is risk in taking a certain course of action is a ridiculous line of reasoning unless you can quantify it somehow, and the nice thing about physics is that there's this thing called "mathematics" we can use to back things up. There's a lower and upper bound on the mass of the Higgs, and it's not really a matter of "if" we'll find something in that mass range- more a matter of "when."

And that's not incremental knowledge that the hadron produced from such and such a collision was greater than expected. It's the finding of certain theorised particles that could explain the universe around us. Then many of us will say, yeah 10 Billion, that was worth it.
Yes, a headline result would give that impression indeed. It's fine for the ignorant to consider the LHC a failure until it produces the result, but considering the LHC a failure or a waste in the meantime is simply illogical.