Skip to content
Do you have adblock enabled?
 
If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Guardian)   Pulling the answer out of your butt. Particle physics edition   (theguardian.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, Particle physics, particle physics conference, Standard Model, Large Hadron Collider, Higgs boson, new particles, particles' properties, entire particle zoo  
•       •       •

638 clicks; posted to STEM » on 28 Sep 2022 at 7:05 AM (9 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



29 Comments     (+0 »)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2022-09-28 7:17:02 AM  
So particle physicists are slightly-less-crazy Republicans?
 
2022-09-28 7:22:07 AM  
Shotgun science.

Dr Hunter S Thompson would be proud
 
2022-09-28 7:34:18 AM  
1) We know the models are imperfect

2) Experiments to figure out why produce results that can be explained by new particles

3) Physicists produce theories about the properties of these particles

4) More experiments rule them out

5) Sabine makes money by claiming everything's a scam

6) Cycle repeats... until hopefully one day we have a breakthrough where #4 is 'experiments confirm a theory'

Maybe there's not enough lag between step 2 and 3 to allow for the experimentation phase to shake out the false positives, but overall this is the process we're going to go through until someone figures out what's missing.

The alternative implied in the article is that we should 'wait until there is a problem to be solved' or 'wait until one of the theorized particles solves a problem'.  Great, Sabine.  Genius.  Now enlighten us as to how that is supposed to work if nobody's working on the theories because they listened when you told them it was a waste of time.
 
2022-09-28 8:09:39 AM  

Unsung_Hero: 1) We know the models are imperfect

2) Experiments to figure out why produce results that can be explained by new particles

3) Physicists produce theories about the properties of these particles

4) More experiments rule them out

5) Sabine makes money by claiming everything's a scam

6) Cycle repeats... until hopefully one day we have a breakthrough where #4 is 'experiments confirm a theory'

Maybe there's not enough lag between step 2 and 3 to allow for the experimentation phase to shake out the false positives, but overall this is the process we're going to go through until someone figures out what's missing.

The alternative implied in the article is that we should 'wait until there is a problem to be solved' or 'wait until one of the theorized particles solves a problem'.  Great, Sabine.  Genius.  Now enlighten us as to how that is supposed to work if nobody's working on the theories because they listened when you told them it was a waste of time.


Actually it sounds like her primary gripe is that (1) and (2) are not as true as they once were, and often the particles are proposed simply because the math works and not because they're needed to explain an observation.

And yes, you should wait for a problem to be solved before proposing solutions.
 
2022-09-28 8:21:18 AM  

Unsung_Hero: 5) Sabine makes money by claiming everything's a scam


Nah she's right.  A good of the problems in physics aren't problems.  Baryogenesis?  Not actually a problem, nothing that we observe depends on an explanation for baryogenesis, it's just something physicists don't like.  Fine tuning?  Hierarchy?  Unification?  Same deal really.  If you want to write theories about it that's one thing but half a billion dollars to research a possibility that is only based on less pretty math is dumb.
 
2022-09-28 8:28:37 AM  
Just because G***** W****** math is pretty  doesn't mean it' a problem. Children i Ethyopia will get more water thanthe can ever fit in their round bellies. Eskimo won't have to buy lots of clothes
 
2022-09-28 8:47:01 AM  
We should forget understanding the universe and make more bombs instead.  That's what we deserve.
 
2022-09-28 9:04:39 AM  
Pulling particles out of your butt seems like a good idea, even if you're not a physicist.
 
2022-09-28 9:20:51 AM  
Hint: not everything is a particle. 🤔
 
2022-09-28 9:21:05 AM  

aerojockey: Unsung_Hero: 5) Sabine makes money by claiming everything's a scam

Nah she's right.  A good of the problems in physics aren't problems.  Baryogenesis?  Not actually a problem, nothing that we observe depends on an explanation for baryogenesis, it's just something physicists don't like.  Fine tuning?  Hierarchy?  Unification?  Same deal really.  If you want to write theories about it that's one thing but half a billion dollars to research a possibility that is only based on less pretty math is dumb.


The problem is that we know there are things we don't understand- grand unification is one of them.  It might seem like a trivial or highly abstract thing that has no practical use, but 120 years ago physics was basically solved.   We had classical mechanics, E&M, thermodynamics, etc.   There were just a few small things we didn't understand, like the ultraviolet spectrum of a blackbody.  Developing a huge pile of weird mathematical theories to explain it would be pointless, right?

miro.medium.comView Full Size
 
2022-09-28 10:22:27 AM  
Well it's not like there's any better way to test the math at a point that doesn't involve absurdly high energies in small spaces or really powerful telescopes. The math describes aspects of reality, and if we want to find the limits in those descriptions, we have to poke around to find something weird. If GR broke in a repeatable way tomorrow, a bunch of physicists would be over the moon prodding that inconsistency for new knowledge.
 
2022-09-28 10:32:55 AM  
TFA managed to score really high on both the BS and insightful scales for me so I didn't really know what to make of it. Thanks for any thoughts on the subject.

/Subby
 
2022-09-28 10:37:43 AM  

Nullav: Well it's not like there's any better way to test the math at a point that doesn't involve absurdly high energies in small spaces or really powerful telescopes. The math describes aspects of reality, and if we want to find the limits in those descriptions, we have to poke around to find something weird. If GR broke in a repeatable way tomorrow, a bunch of physicists would be over the moon prodding that inconsistency for new knowledge.


The point of the article is that the Standard Model isn't breaking in repeatable ways that necessitate new particles to explain.
 
2022-09-28 10:51:08 AM  
String "theory"* has consumed three generations of theoretical physicists without producing a single testable property.  Dark Matter is rapidly catching up.

*Theories have been tested and shown to be consistent with nature.
 
2022-09-28 11:18:49 AM  
"In private, many physicists admit they do not believe the particles they are paid to search for exist - they do it because their colleagues are doing it"

The fark does belief have to do with this, Sabine?
 
2022-09-28 11:34:22 AM  

Unsung_Hero: Now enlighten us as to how that is supposed to work if nobody's working on the theories because they listened when you told them it was a waste of time.


Literally that: wait until there's an actual problem to solve and then work on a theory to solve it.

The problem is theoretical physics is slowly becoming less a field of study and slowly morphing into an INDUSTRY. In order to stay in business, physics labs need to produce new results. But what happens when the existing models have been tested to the practical limit of any conceivable experiment? What happens when the only remaining questions are fundamentally unanswerable ones? You have three choices then: come up with a better model (extremely difficult), move on to a different area of study (less difficult, but expensive and time consuming) or pull  exotic new theories out of your ass so you can can spend the rest of your career running supercollider experiments just to rule them out.

"We need to look busy so people won't question our budget" is a bad direction for particle physicists, and it's basically the only field that regularly has this problem (except maybe sociology).
 
2022-09-28 11:52:15 AM  

Glockenspiel Hero: aerojockey: Unsung_Hero: 5) Sabine makes money by claiming everything's a scam

Nah she's right.  A good of the problems in physics aren't problems.  Baryogenesis?  Not actually a problem, nothing that we observe depends on an explanation for baryogenesis, it's just something physicists don't like.  Fine tuning?  Hierarchy?  Unification?  Same deal really.  If you want to write theories about it that's one thing but half a billion dollars to research a possibility that is only based on less pretty math is dumb.

The problem is that we know there are things we don't understand- grand unification is one of them.  It might seem like a trivial or highly abstract thing that has no practical use, but 120 years ago physics was basically solved.   We had classical mechanics, E&M, thermodynamics, etc.   There were just a few small things we didn't understand, like the ultraviolet spectrum of a blackbody.  Developing a huge pile of weird mathematical theories to explain it would be pointless, right?


You can't be serious to think this is even comparable.  Blackbody radiation was a clearly evident case where thre predictions of theory differed strikingly from observations.  GUT is all about, "Dude wouldn't it be gnarly if all the forces were the same <bong hit> dude".  GUT doesn't resolve any discrepancies from we've seen between theory and observations.  GUT doesn't solve any problem.

You posted a nice little plot showing how observed blackbody radiation differed from therory.  Wonder why you didn't post a similar plot for today's theory?  Oh yeah, because a little error plot showing a 10^-20 second discrepancy in muon decay time just doesn't have quite the impact.
 
2022-09-28 11:58:23 AM  
Sabine Hossenfelder has focused almost entirely on YouTube content creation and pop science, and hasn't appeared to do any serious research since the early 2000s.  It's about views, speaking engagements, book sales, and attention now.  This is exactly the type of thing you'd expect her to say - it drive attention and clicks.  Even her YouTube content is starting to drift into adjacent material that's far from her academic expertise (antibiotics, medicine, diesel fuel, etc).

She's smart and talented, as are most science communicators.  But take these types of "bombshell" claims with a healthy dose of salt.  They serve a purpose that isn't the pursuit of fact or accuracy.  They're driving attention and dollars.
 
2022-09-28 12:03:17 PM  

natazha: String "theory"* has consumed three generations of theoretical physicists without producing a single testable property.  Dark Matter is rapidly catching up.


3. It's not going away.
https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/10-facts-everyone-should-know-about-dark-matter-1ce2b222cf08
 
2022-09-28 12:37:51 PM  

Khellendros: Sabine Hossenfelder has focused almost entirely on YouTube content creation and pop science, and hasn't appeared to do any serious research since the early 2000s.  It's about views, speaking engagements, book sales, and attention now.  This is exactly the type of thing you'd expect her to say - it drive attention and clicks.


On this point, she's been saying it since before she was an Internet phenom, and only got bolder as LHC continued to come to nothing.  So at least it's not like she's changed her tune for more money.

I don't know what to think about her claim that many physicists privately think SUSY is wrong.  I am happy to assert that physicists in 2005 largely took SUSY for granted and didn't really question that the LHC would find supersymmetric particles; I'd guess most thought it'd find them before it found the Higgs.  Read some scientific articles from that era, some scientists basically took it so much for granted they barely even stopped to say it wasn't proven.  Sabine's claims have the air of a generational divide, the old theorists who cultivated these beautiful theories for decades are clinging to them while younger, less attached physicists are ready to move on, but I don't know any particle physicists and don't get too deep into their inner dialogue so I don't know.

I have seen a couple physicists that are still sticking it out today, though.  I saw a slideshow some physics professor made, and he was very clearly irritated that he even had to defend SUSY.

Personally I'd be OK with them building one more, but if that one discovers nothing, it's probably time to throw in the towel.
 
2022-09-28 1:22:05 PM  
they do it with more maths

I was told there'd be no maths

/
Is it Math or Maths? - Numberphile
Youtube SbZCECvoaTA
 
2022-09-28 1:47:31 PM  

aerojockey: Glockenspiel Hero: aerojockey: Unsung_Hero: 5) Sabine makes money by claiming everything's a scam

Nah she's right.  A good of the problems in physics aren't problems.  Baryogenesis?  Not actually a problem, nothing that we observe depends on an explanation for baryogenesis, it's just something physicists don't like.  Fine tuning?  Hierarchy?  Unification?  Same deal really.  If you want to write theories about it that's one thing but half a billion dollars to research a possibility that is only based on less pretty math is dumb.

The problem is that we know there are things we don't understand- grand unification is one of them.  It might seem like a trivial or highly abstract thing that has no practical use, but 120 years ago physics was basically solved.   We had classical mechanics, E&M, thermodynamics, etc.   There were just a few small things we didn't understand, like the ultraviolet spectrum of a blackbody.  Developing a huge pile of weird mathematical theories to explain it would be pointless, right?

You can't be serious to think this is even comparable.  Blackbody radiation was a clearly evident case where thre predictions of theory differed strikingly from observations.  GUT is all about, "Dude wouldn't it be gnarly if all the forces were the same <bong hit> dude".  GUT doesn't resolve any discrepancies from we've seen between theory and observations.  GUT doesn't solve any problem.

You posted a nice little plot showing how observed blackbody radiation differed from therory.  Wonder why you didn't post a similar plot for today's theory?  Oh yeah, because a little error plot showing a 10^-20 second discrepancy in muon decay time just doesn't have quite the impact.


Ok, here you go. Explain this graph

Fark user imageView Full Size


That a big enough deviation for you?  The only things we've been able to say about the cause of that is what it's *not*.  Hell, LUX-ZEPLIN just posted their first results and the most sophisticated dark matter experiment ever created found....nothing.  Admittedly there are lots of places still to look, but you have to wonder occasionally if the MOND guys aren't insane

Another one: Explain neutrino oscillations.

Fark user imageView Full Size


According to the Standard Model that graph should be a yellow rectangle.  The simplest modification to the Standard Model that doesn't give a yellow rectangle gets the neutrino masses wrong by a factor of 600,000.  It's clear there's physics past the SM

Or another fun one: What's at the center of a black hole?

Relativity says a point singularity
Quantum mechanics says due to uncertainty those can't exist

Which is it?  Worse, if you try to quantize gravitational fields like we do electromagnetic, a lot of the answers turn out to be infinity.  GR and QM are at the current time incompatible, and most of the attempts to join them fall squarely into Sabine's "Is this really good science" categories since the particles are far too massive to create.

So yeah, there are quite significant problems in current theories that deserve explanations.
 
2022-09-28 7:32:08 PM  

rogue49: Hint: not everything is a particle. 🤔


OK, Triangle Man
 
2022-09-28 11:09:50 PM  

Glockenspiel Hero: That a big enough deviation for you?


Moving the goalposts, sparky.  We were talking about high energy physics and physicists tendecy to assume the answer to everything is a new high-energy particle.  Now you post a cosmological problem.  Which, BTW, has an error of something like c/10000, it's not that big.

The potential problem here is spending multi billions of dollars to collide particles at higher energies when the motivation is to make some theorist's equations look nicer, when it's a very real possibility that it would discover nothing at all.  What real problems, observational discrepancies, not math problems, do they actually solve, to justify the cost and effort and mindshare?  The commonly cited reasons are all math problems: fine tuning and so on.  And is a high energy particle the only possible solution, or are there other possibilities.  "Well, uh, if we smash some particles and something shows up it might solve some stuff" is not an explanation that inspires confidence.
 
2022-09-28 11:41:35 PM  

aerojockey: Glockenspiel Hero: That a big enough deviation for you?

Moving the goalposts, sparky.  We were talking about high energy physics and physicists tendecy to assume the answer to everything is a new high-energy particle.  Now you post a cosmological problem.  Which, BTW, has an error of something like c/10000, it's not that big.

The potential problem here is spending multi billions of dollars to collide particles at higher energies when the motivation is to make some theorist's equations look nicer, when it's a very real possibility that it would discover nothing at all.  What real problems, observational discrepancies, not math problems, do they actually solve, to justify the cost and effort and mindshare?  The commonly cited reasons are all math problems: fine tuning and so on.  And is a high energy particle the only possible solution, or are there other possibilities.  "Well, uh, if we smash some particles and something shows up it might solve some stuff" is not an explanation that inspires confidence.


Fine then, stick with neutrino oscillations.  Can't be explained with the Standard Model, the SM with corrections gets things wildly wrong, nobody actually knows what the answer is.

Will building bigger colliders answer that?  Some pile of math I can't begin to follow?  I have utterly no idea.  But perhaps we should actually look for a solution and not just throw up our hands and say "I give up, there's probably nothing interesting there anyway"
 
2022-09-29 12:24:00 AM  

Glockenspiel Hero: aerojockey: Glockenspiel Hero: That a big enough deviation for you?

Moving the goalposts, sparky.  We were talking about high energy physics and physicists tendecy to assume the answer to everything is a new high-energy particle.  Now you post a cosmological problem.  Which, BTW, has an error of something like c/10000, it's not that big.

The potential problem here is spending multi billions of dollars to collide particles at higher energies when the motivation is to make some theorist's equations look nicer, when it's a very real possibility that it would discover nothing at all.  What real problems, observational discrepancies, not math problems, do they actually solve, to justify the cost and effort and mindshare?  The commonly cited reasons are all math problems: fine tuning and so on.  And is a high energy particle the only possible solution, or are there other possibilities.  "Well, uh, if we smash some particles and something shows up it might solve some stuff" is not an explanation that inspires confidence.

Fine then, stick with neutrino oscillations.  Can't be explained with the Standard Model, the SM with corrections gets things wildly wrong, nobody actually knows what the answer is.

Will building bigger colliders answer that?


No it would not. Neither would any of the more complex snd expensive neutrino detection experiments, since it turns out their results aren't appreciably better than far cheaper and less complicated rigs.

High powered computer modeling might, IF they can get the math right. Which is why everyone who wasn't heavily invested in supercolliders started working on that kind of process over a decade ago. Classmate of mine that ended up working at fermilab was working on a way to model muon decay using huge GPU arrays and parallel processing, for example.

The supercollider thing was a decent idea, but the longer this goes on the more it begins to decay into grift.
 
2022-09-29 6:32:56 AM  

Glockenspiel Hero: Ok, here you go. Explain this graph


OK, super easy, barely an inconvenience.

A New View on Gravity and the Cosmos | Erik Verlinde
Youtube 8ovRZuv5Lo8
 
2022-09-29 8:07:59 AM  
dready zim:

[Youtube-video https://www.youtube.com/embed/8ovRZuv5Lo8]

Ethan Siegel is big fan of
letting him talk
Are Space, Time, And Gravity All Just Illusions? - Big Think
 
2022-09-29 1:49:34 PM  
At the same time, they profit from it,


fark off
 
Displayed 29 of 29 comments

View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

This thread is closed to new comments.

Continue Farking




On Twitter


  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.