Sunday, November 01, 2015

China will build the next LHC; the HBP is a disaster

From Science Alert Oct 30th 2015:
"China has announced that it will begin construction of the world's largest particle collider in 2020. According to officials, the subterranean facility will be at least twice the size of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, and will endeavour to find out more about the mysterious Higgs boson.

"The final concept design won't be completed until the end of next year, so we don't have many details to go on, but the collider is expected to smash protons and electrons together at seven times the energy levels of the LHC, generating millions of Higgs bosons in the process. Best of all, the facility will reportedly be available to the entire global scientific community. "
The Great Collider

There's a book on this (below) due for release shortly (author Steve Nadis writes about the project here); Luboš Motl reviews the book here.

Jess Riedel is not so impressed,
"I think this is a bad development for physics because I am pessimistic about particle accelerators telling us something truly deep and novel about the universe, at least in the next century. Particle physics is a perfect-storm specialty in the sense that it can absorb unlimited amounts of money and physics talent while yielding arbitrarily slow progress on the important questions. If there are tens of billions of dollars flowing into these machines, innumerable physicists will continue to pour their youth into them for extremely incremental results."
but even in terms of spin-offs (computing and communications, high-tech manufacture, magnet and superconducting technologies, general physics education and culture) this has to be a winner for China. Assuming it finally gets the OK from the Politburo.


I'm inclined to be impressed by China's big science. Less so on the record of the European Union.
"In 2013 the European Commission awarded neuroscientist Henry Markram $1.3 billion to pursue an audacious goal: building a simulation of the human brain. Markram's initiative, the Human Brain Project (HBP), is now in disarray. Critics blame HBP management and the project's unreasonably ambitious goals. Yet plenty of blame for the HBP's woes rests with the project's funders in Brussels, who put politics ahead of science and exercised poor oversight."

(Scientific American article here).
So we now have this amusing, impassioned and sweary rant about the project which carries a deep ring of truth. In this area, at least, it appears that no-one knows anything.

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