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Why is CERN better known than ITER?

by alexgmcm
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alexgmcm
#1
Aug28-08, 04:37 AM
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I find it surprising that whilst the average person will know about CERN, due to its heavy coverage in the news and media, only very few people will have heard of ITER. This seems strange because ITER will probably have a much greater effect upon the average person's life than anything that may occur at the LHC at CERN.

I suppose the main reason is that the LHC turns on this year whereas ITER is still a decade away but I must admit I am still surprised by the general public's interest in the less applied areas of physics.
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tribdog
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Aug28-08, 04:52 AM
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It's because CERN is the first one listed in the phone book. If you want to have a well known particle accelerator you should name it AAA Particle Accelerator.
Gokul43201
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Aug28-08, 05:35 AM
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Quote Quote by alexgmcm View Post
... I must admit I am still surprised by the general public's interest in the less applied areas of physics.
The general public's interest in physics has always been in the less applied areas. How many pop-sci books can you name in Condensed Matter Physics?

humanino
#4
Aug28-08, 06:21 AM
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Why is CERN better known than ITER?

Quote Quote by alexgmcm View Post
This seems strange because ITER will probably have a much greater effect upon the average person's life than anything that may occur at the LHC at CERN.
How do you know that !? Why would people even notice that their electricity is no longer produced with fission, but with fusion ? CERN is not just LHC and has already brought many things to us, such as PF (that is, internet)
vanesch
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Aug28-08, 06:28 AM
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CERN is old (started in 1954), has a great PR department (like claiming they invented the internet, while they only invented HTML and HTTP 0.9 or "recreate the big bang" etc...), and, well, did a lot of discoveries too
humanino
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Aug28-08, 06:35 AM
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Quote Quote by vanesch View Post
like claiming they invented the internet
Well at least without their contribution it's not clear when it would have happen. How it happened is quite an interesting story.

But it's true that they have a complete army of PR compared to most of the other labs.
jtbell
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Aug28-08, 06:46 AM
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Quote Quote by vanesch View Post
like claiming they invented the internet
Yeah, after all, Al Gore never worked for them!
ZapperZ
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Aug28-08, 07:02 AM
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Quote Quote by alexgmcm View Post
I find it surprising that whilst the average person will know about CERN, due to its heavy coverage in the news and media, only very few people will have heard of ITER. This seems strange because ITER will probably have a much greater effect upon the average person's life than anything that may occur at the LHC at CERN.

I suppose the main reason is that the LHC turns on this year whereas ITER is still a decade away but I must admit I am still surprised by the general public's interest in the less applied areas of physics.
It's the same reason why Einstein is more well-known that Bardeen, even though Bardeen is the only person who has ever won the Nobel Prize in physics twice. It is certainly related to what Gokul is implying.

Zz.
cristo
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Aug28-08, 07:24 AM
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Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
It is certainly related to what Gokul is implying.
Yup.. theoretical physics is just more interesting than experimental physics.

*runs and hides under a particle collider*
Kurdt
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Aug28-08, 07:29 AM
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Is that your theoretical particle collider cristo?
cristo
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Aug28-08, 07:30 AM
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Quote Quote by Kurdt View Post
Is that your theoretical particle collider cristo?
Yup, that's right.. my collider of theoretical particles
ZapperZ
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Aug28-08, 08:10 AM
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Quote Quote by cristo View Post
Yup.. theoretical physics is just more interesting than experimental physics.

*runs and hides under a particle collider*
Er.. I don't think that's what I or Gokul is implying. Besides, Bardeen is actually a theorist, even though he was involved in the development of the transistor. BCS theory is certainly a theory.

Zz.
cristo
#13
Aug28-08, 08:32 AM
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Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
Er.. I don't think that's what I or Gokul is implying.
I know.. I was joking.
alexgmcm
#14
Aug28-08, 12:56 PM
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Yeah, I suppose looking at some of the crazier parts of theoretical physics (making claims about time-travel and multiple universes etc.) in a pop-sci manner is probably more interesting to the general public than condensed matter physics.

But that is only because it is in a pop-sci manner, otherwise the theoretical side is probably even less accessible to the layman than the more experimental, applied areas.

For example, it is reasonable to explain superconductance in a simple manner as the lack of interaction between the electrons and the lattice due to the pseudo-spin created by cooper pairs which mean it behaves like a boson. But trying to explain twistor theory to a layman or the whole host of theories known as M-theory is pretty much impossible.

And yes, I think people will care that their power is generated by fusion instead of fission if it means the cost is greatly decreased whereas I see little reason for the layman to care about the existence of the Higgs Boson.

Someone should try and write a popular account of the less glamourous areas of physics just to see if it is possible to do so in an exciting yet accurate manner.
WarPhalange
#15
Aug28-08, 01:39 PM
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Quote Quote by cristo View Post
Yup.. theoretical physics is just more interesting than experimental physics.
Every year we get a stream of freshmen who want to major in physics and when I ask why, they always say they are interested in "quantum" and "string theory" and "relativity". The catch? They have no idea what those things are even about.

I admit I was the same way, except I hadn't heard about "string theory" until I was already majoring in physics.

It's kind of like how when people think of the military, they think of commandos, and not the engineers, the cooks, the janitors, etc.
Topher925
#16
Aug28-08, 02:08 PM
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It's kind of like how when people think of the military
I think about the bullets and the bombs.

Its all about the PR which then eventually relates to money. Why do people buy Dell PCs when they are over priced pieces of @#$%? Its because they shove there name down everyones throat so when someone needs a new laptop, they immediately think Dell. So when governments get money to spend on science, they think CERN.
cristo
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Aug28-08, 02:11 PM
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Quote Quote by Topher925 View Post
So when governments get money to spend on science, they think CERN.
Come on, that's just nonsense.
Topher925
#18
Aug28-08, 02:16 PM
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Quote Quote by cristo View Post
Come on, that's just nonsense.
Which part? The government spending money on science or them giving it to CERN?


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