The video is a group discussion on the necessity to continue exploring particle physics using larger particle energy detectors involving higher energies to achieve further breakthroughs. As conveyed in the video, a project of this size requires a lot of resources both in terms of manpower, architecture and compute, besides a significant amount of money. This post is my personal take on the discussion as a citizen of the world.

Context


Gavin begins with the idea of dark matter, trying to discover it in particle collider experiments using indirect observations. Dark matter cannot be directly discovered as it is not known exactly what we are looking for. As Bjørn points out correctly, dark matter results from the mathematical model of cosmic elements(galaxies, universal expansion) which uses this hypothesis to account for the currently unpredictable behavior of matter at large scales.

Gavin talks about exploring science in avenues previously left untouched. There is a reason for the same – the technology to understand the “particle interactions” exists today, that was not there earlier. It is not a simple matter of one element hits another to measure interactions, simulations are created in computers based on the by-products that are caught in the collider’s detection mechanisms. Gavin says to “go and build colliders”, but it is difficult to build one that is more massive than the last. People in multiple governments are involved, including contractors who will supply raw materials necessary. Sabine correctly points out the challenges that teams would face in building a significantly better collider, that is much larger than the currently existing ones. Gavin talks about “guaranteed discoveries”, and the exciting new breakthroughs that would be unearthed and brought to light. Sabine wrongly talks about the “little output” that these breakthroughs are being referred to from her perspective, whereas the discoveries of particle physics supposedly reveal the fundamental elements in the universe.

Sabine wants to discover more in the realm of quantum mechanics and gravity. These are some of the fields which do not require heavy investments and can be done in regular environments to achieve results that could be used for large-scale enhancements, such as building efficient quantum computers. The understanding of gravity from a quantum perspective is still unclear as to what gives birth to the phenomenon, and this is another field she wants the scientific community to invest their time into.

Opinion


I think exploring more of particle physics should be delayed. Following are the arguments I propose to justify my point of view.

  • Particle physics require a lot of resources to be built in order to confirm the existence of certain particles beyond reasonable doubt, in the form of colliders. I believe the science behind colliders is simple, but it is resource and compute extensive. Time can be devoted towards coming up with better hacks so as to reduce the amount of resources necessary to get the necessary results, which would be important in the long run. The science behind building an efficient collider may be useful in fields like nuclear fusion, where the energy of initiation is high and containing the reaction is equally important.

  • Particle physics involve working with miniscule, short-lived particles. We may come across new particles which may occur under controlled conditions in a laboratory, a discovery as new as the next bacterium or virus that is synthesized or found out about. Reactions happening at the cosmic level involve high energies occurring in a seemingly random nature(involving huge masses instead of atoms) which is currently beyond understanding. Simulating it on a computer is the best humanity is doing at this point using mathematical models that may not be working at those scales.

  • Physicists might want to print their names on a research paper that comes across the next obscure short-lived particle in the universe, but the path that leads to the discovery is arduous. The architecture necessary to document the observations are expensive. The energy necessary to replicate the data multiple times in order to prove a point beyond reasonable doubt is equally high. These physicists, on the quest for image and recognition in the scientific community do themselves a favour, more than the Earth for whom these discoveries are supposed to benefit.

  • Fields like quantum behaviour, which involve studying entanglement and information exchange better explain the state of the universe we are currently living in(on Earth). Individual experiments may not reveal a huge breakthrough such as the hype that would be created upon discovery of a new particle, but in the long run they would be helpful in building new technology that may end up reducing energy consumption. The knowledge of a new particle may not have immediate benefits as opposed to the energy consumption required to prove existence beyond doubt, whereas quantum science requires much less energy to conduct and observe. Technology keeps on getting better and delaying particle physics exploration by a decade or two may speed up discoveries in the same field in future, where quantum technologies might be used to explore the universe at these scales instead of the traditional approach. We may be in a better position to make sense of these discoveries once we have a better understanding of quantum science.

  • Physicists often justify the field of particle physics by saying that the quest of knowledge is what science is about. This is true, but particle physics is not the only field where this saying is applicable. The hunger for knowledge can be satisfied in the fields of quantum technology, lattice geometry, gene dynamics amongst others which are important from a human perspective. Answering “why the mass of a neutron is what it is” may require answering a question like “under what conditions is the mass being measured as the energy of this particle is supposed to remain same”, which may require testing the same under a variety of different conditions and there could be infinite of them. A question like “what energy was used to create a Higgs Boson” may throw off a particle physicist’s preconceived notions, as these are nanosecond particles which are infrequent on Earth. [For example, the flavour of an orange may taste different depending upon the soil. Two lead atoms can be different based on their radioactivity]

  • Fields like quantum computing are resource extensive as they require low temperatures and expensive hardware. A.I compute can still be considered beneficial for the common people, but the more people use it, the more energy consumption it clocks. Given this situation, particle physics exploration can also be justified which will obviously involve consuming significantly lesser energy once built, which is why these fields should be subdued as much as possible. The money that is being spent on these resource-hungry technologies can be invested for Earth’s welfare projects like afforestation. Incentivized afforestation would make the future a greener and cleaner place to perform exciting experiments that quench human beings’ thirst for knowledge.

Conclusion


Lobbying communities and powerful entities is a radical approach and should be prevented if possible, particularly if it upsets the energy balance on Earth. Harvesting energy via Dyson spheres, using quantum technology to solve difficult problems easily sound exciting, but a balanced and patient approach to get there is more important than rushing blindly to find solutions to the universe’s mysteries. Current approaches are bearing heavy operational costs that is detrimental for the future generations who are supposed to reap the benefits of the knowledge we are accumulating today.

  • Avid Amoeba@lemmy.ca
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    1 month ago

    I’ve seen so much bullshit from Sabine that at this point her participation discounts the value of a discussion for me. I find it unfortunate that YouTube made her famous for her edgy takes and have her clout.

      • Argonne@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        There’s a vocal minority that’s butthurt that Sabine sometimes talks about topics that are over her head and not totally accurate. While the criticism is appropriate there, using that to dismiss anything at all she says, especially in areas she’s an expert in like Physics, is just plain dumb and I wonder if there is a propaganda campaign behind it. Or just a bunch of teens who view the world completely in black and white

  • Sentau@discuss.tchncs.de
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    1 month ago

    You keep going again and again about 'quantum science’s but what exactly do you think that means because particle physics is based on quantum field theory which is probably the most advanced and complete version of ‘quantum science’ known to us.

    As for Sabine’s proposal that we should be concentrating on quantum gravity -

    a) A lot of people are currently involved in quantum gravity research and

    b) the only reason that quantum gravity research is ‘inexpensive’ is because it is mostly theoretical in nature and not because the experiments to research quantum gravity are ‘efficient’. Also we can create a thousand theories but it doesn’t matter after a certain point because without experiments to verify which theory is right, it is all educated guessing in a sense

    Time can be devoted towards coming up with better hacks so as to reduce the amount of resources necessary to get the necessary results, which would be important in the long run. The science behind building an efficient collider may be useful in fields like nuclear fusion, where the energy of initiation is high and containing the reaction is equally important.

    I am bewildered that you think scientists are not already doing everything they can to build/operate colliders(and any experimental setup for that matter) in an efficient way. They are already trying to get more data from the experiments while keeping all other parameters the same while also building better methods to parse and interpret the data so more conclusions can be drawn from the same amount of data. Experimentalists always know that their field is viewed unfavourable by certains sections of the public which results in them getting less resources as compared to shit like sports, entertainment, etc. which is why they are used to maximizing the equipment they are able to build.

    Physicists might want to print their names on a research paper that comes across the next obscure short-lived particle in the universe, but the path that leads to the discovery is arduous. The architecture necessary to document the observations are expensive. The energy necessary to replicate the data multiple times in order to prove a point beyond reasonable doubt is equally high. These physicists, on the quest for image and recognition in the scientific community do themselves a favour, more than the Earth for whom these discoveries are supposed to benefit.

    While I agree that a lot people are involved in science have personal motivations to claim that those motivations supercede their interest to progress knowledge seems very insulting especially as there is no data to backup your claims.

    Fields like quantum behaviour, which involve studying entanglement and information exchange better explain the state of the universe we are currently living in(on Earth).

    Again particle physics also comes under ‘quantum behaviour’ and gives us a lot of information about the current state of the universe

    Individual experiments may not reveal a huge breakthrough such as the hype that would be created upon discovery of a new particle, but in the long run they would be helpful in building new technology that may end up reducing energy consumption

    I don’t see how this field would directly contribute to reduction of energy consumption.

    Finally while I respect discussions on investments in science and whether that money can be utilised in a better way or for a different purpose, I ultimately find these discussions facile because things like sports, cinema, other forms of entertainment use much more resources(both monetary and natural) while contributing little to society in the long term. Unless we divert resources from those fields to use for the betterment of the planet, arguing that we should do the same from scientific research of any kind is a meaningless gesture

    • Neta GOP
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      30 days ago

      You keep going again and again about 'quantum science’s but what exactly do you think that means because particle physics is based on quantum field theory which is probably the most advanced and complete version of ‘quantum science’ known to us.

      The current knowledge of particles is enough to work with exploration of quantum phenomena like entanglement and superposition and using lasers, it may be possible to design efficient ways of encrypted communication and compute. More “in-depth” analysis of particles and particle fields requires more investment in a new bigger particle collider, the heavy investment of which I am in favor of delaying.

      b) the only reason that quantum gravity research is ‘inexpensive’ is because it is mostly theoretical in nature and not because the experiments to research quantum gravity are ‘efficient’. Also we can create a thousand theories but it doesn’t matter after a certain point because without experiments to verify which theory is right, it is all educated guessing in a sense

      Theoretical physics paves way for new insight, and it certainly does not expend too much energy unless machine learning models are employed which again consumes a significant amount of energy. Still this is not as huge an investment as the one towards building a new bigger collider.

      I am bewildered that you think scientists are not already doing everything they can to build/operate colliders(and any experimental setup for that matter) in an efficient way. They are already trying to get more data from the experiments while keeping all other parameters the same while also building better methods to parse and interpret the data so more conclusions can be drawn from the same amount of data. Experimentalists always know that their field is viewed unfavourable by certains sections of the public which results in them getting less resources as compared to shit like sports, entertainment, etc. which is why they are used to maximizing the equipment they are able to build.

      I am happy to know that particle physicists are doing everything they can to work with the resources at hand. Building a complete new apparatus in terms of a bigger collider is something I am against. If modification of the existing collider to build the bigger one is economically viable, that is a separate discussion.

      While I agree that a lot people are involved in science have personal motivations to claim that those motivations supercede their interest to progress knowledge seems very insulting especially as there is no data to backup your claims.

      From my perspective, a push towards building a bigger particle collider to continue being relevant in a field that a physicist has invested most of his / her study towards in life, instead of diversifying towards other equally important and interesting scientific fields is selfish, if achievement is viewed in terms of publishing, for this individual. There will not be any data anyway as no scientist will voluntarily disclose that they would rather lobby for bigger particle colliders than work in a different scientific field. Hypothetically speaking, if the research papers involving the bigger particle collider wouldn’t mention names of the associated researchers, I wonder if we’ll start seeing mood swings of physicists pushing for the same.

      Finally while I respect discussions on investments in science and whether that money can be utilised in a better way or for a different purpose, I ultimately find these discussions facile because things like sports, cinema, other forms of entertainment use much more resources(both monetary and natural) while contributing little to society in the long term. Unless we divert resources from those fields to use for the betterment of the planet, arguing that we should do the same from scientific research of any kind is a meaningless gesture

      Ordinary people have a right to energy as much as scientists do. Ordinary people are consumers of the products of scientific research, either in terms of access to knowledge or products of the same so they are engaged in the same ecosystem. Sports, cinema and other entertainment contribute to general wellbeing of people. Comparing energy expense of public engagement in these activities to scientific research has left me bewildered. Scientists should set the precedent of conserving energy as much as possible and inspire the world in doing the same, sparking more innovation in industry.