Have all cheap experiments been exhausted?

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In summary, modern physics experiments are expensive and there is little room to do useful experiments that would be useful for theoreticians.
  • #1
ohwilleke
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The most watched experimental efforts pertinent to modern physics are heinously expensive.

State of the art particle accellerator project like the LHC cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. http://www.physics.fsu.edu/PhysicsNewsletter/Spring97/The_Large_Hadron_Collider.htm

Gravity Probe B is a $700 million experiment. http://wired-vig.wired.com/news/space/0,2697,64505,00.html

Is there really no room to do useful experiments to gather information that would be useful to theoretists in string theory, LQG, brane theory and other branches of modern physics that cost say, under $10 million? Or, has brute force simply shoved cleverness out of the way?

For example, some of these theories are suggesting that we should see Quantum Gravity effects at distances as large as 1 mm. Is it really that expensive to do experiments to explore what is going on in the 1mm to 1 micrometer scale gravitationally and hence further constrain theory?

Similarly, the Casmir effect has excited a lot of interest relevant to dark energy. Couldn't someone do some really significant research in this area for say $8 million?

Are there really no ways to infer the existence of undetected particles experimentally short of Tetra-electron volt class conditions?
 
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  • #2
ohwilleke said:
The most watched experimental efforts pertinent to modern physics are heinously expensive.

State of the art particle accellerator project like the LHC cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. http://www.physics.fsu.edu/PhysicsNewsletter/Spring97/The_Large_Hadron_Collider.htm

Gravity Probe B is a $700 million experiment. http://wired-vig.wired.com/news/space/0,2697,64505,00.html

Is there really no room to do useful experiments to gather information that would be useful to theoretists in string theory, LQG, brane theory and other branches of modern physics that cost say, under $10 million? Or, has brute force simply shoved cleverness out of the way?

Hang on. Don't lump ALL of "modern physics" to JUST mean string, high energy, etc. Don't people in condensed matter MATTER? If they do, you'll find that many FUNDAMENTAL physics research are done on the VERY cheap!

Zz.
 
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  • #3
ZapperZ said:
Hang on. Don't lump ALL of "modern physics" to JUST mean string, high energy, etc. Don't people in condensed matter MATTER? If they do, you'll find that many FUNDAMENTAL physics research are done on the VERY cheap!

Zz.

Could you give a few recent (within last 10-15 years) examples, please?
 
  • #4
jma2001 said:
Could you give a few recent (within last 10-15 years) examples, please?

I'll give you two off the top of my head:

1. The paper on the violation of the Wiedemann-Franz law: C. Proust et al., Nature v.414, p.711 (2001).

Why is this fundamental? It goes to the heart of the so-called spin-charge fractionalization. It points to the possibility that if our fundamental particles are truly many-body vacuum excitation, that under low dimensional confinment, you can fractionalize it's various properties such as its spin and its charge.

2. Orenstein and Millis, Advances in the Physics of High-Temperature Superconductivity, Science v.288 p.468-474 (2000).

This is a review of both theory and experiments on high-Tc superconductors that directly address the issues of fluctuations near a quantum phase transition.

Bonus: all the experiments on the discovery of the fractional quantum hall effect.

In none of these did the experiment itself costs even 1% of a typical high-energy experiment.

Zz.
 
  • #5
Thanks for those references. The more I listen to you, the more I can see that condensed matter is indeed a most interesting and useful area of research. And you are right, it is a field that most people outside of the physics community have never heard of or thought much about. I suppose string theory gets all the hype because it deals with the "glamorous" questions about black holes, the origin of the universe, etc. Also, the string theorists have done a very good job of marketing themselves, through popular books and on television. Are there any decent books about condensed matter written for a general audience? I know there is a biography of John Bardeen called "True Genius" but I am looking for a history/overview of the entire field.
 
  • #6
jma2001 said:
Thanks for those references. The more I listen to you, the more I can see that condensed matter is indeed a most interesting and useful area of research. And you are right, it is a field that most people outside of the physics community have never heard of or thought much about. I suppose string theory gets all the hype because it deals with the "glamorous" questions about black holes, the origin of the universe, etc. Also, the string theorists have done a very good job of marketing themselves, through popular books and on television. Are there any decent books about condensed matter written for a general audience? I know there is a biography of John Bardeen called "True Genius" but I am looking for a history/overview of the entire field.

I'm not aware of any popular books specifically on condensed matter. However, I have a couple of articles here on the topic that you could get. Not sure if they're meant for a popular audience since they do go into greater detail, but it tells you even more of why CM is a very fundamental area of physics and not just an "application".

http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0307004
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0210162

Zz.
 

Related to Have all cheap experiments been exhausted?

1. Have all cheap experiments been exhausted?

This is a common question among scientists and researchers who are looking for cost-effective ways to conduct experiments. The answer is no, there are always new and innovative ways to approach experiments that can be done at a lower cost.

2. Are cheap experiments less reliable?

Some may assume that cheap experiments are less reliable because they require less funding and resources. However, the reliability of an experiment is not solely determined by its cost. It depends on the methodology, controls, and data analysis techniques used.

3. Can cheap experiments lead to groundbreaking discoveries?

Absolutely! Some of the most groundbreaking discoveries in science have been made through simple and inexpensive experiments. It's not always about the cost, but rather the creativity and ingenuity of the researcher.

4. How can I conduct cheap experiments?

One way to conduct cheap experiments is to utilize open-source software and materials that are easily accessible and affordable. Collaborating with other researchers or utilizing shared resources can also help reduce costs.

5. Are there any ethical concerns with conducting cheap experiments?

As with any experiment, there may be ethical considerations to take into account. It's important to ensure that the experiment is conducted in an ethical and responsible manner, regardless of its cost. This may involve obtaining proper consent from participants or following ethical guidelines set by governing bodies.

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