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Insights My Superparticle Bet with Frank Wilczek - Comments

  1. Jul 10, 2015 #1

    garrett

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2015 #2
    You should make more bets! Pay up Frank!

    Would you give back the money if super-particles are eventually found?
     
  4. Jul 10, 2015 #3
    Really interesting! Would love a follow up sometime!
     
  5. Jul 10, 2015 #4

    Demystifier

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    The fact that Frank accepted the bet demonstrates that being intelligent and being rational are two different things.
     
  6. Jul 10, 2015 #5

    garrett

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    I would happily make another bet on it.
     
  7. Jul 10, 2015 #6

    garrett

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    I think it speaks more of the importance of personal perspective in physics. When you personally first do a calculation, as Frank did for supersymmetric coupling unification, and it produces a result that appears to be true and important about nature, when there was no reason it had to be, it's a bit of a shock. That personal experience gives you a lot of confidence in that idea. That is the way I feel about the match of GR and Standard Model structure to the E8 Lie group. And I suspect that's the way Frank Wilczek feels about supersymmetry. This is one of many reasons why it's good to have physicists searching along different paths.
     
  8. Jul 10, 2015 #7
    As Garrett's lawyer I would argue to the arbitrator
    Detect is defined as "discover or identify the presence or existence of."

    Even though the potential to comprehend the discovery must occur at a later time, the data was still detected. Indeed, the collection of the data is the detecting process; the discovery, is the comprehension or understanding that the data proves the scientific point being reached. In this case, the existence of superparticles.
     
  9. Jul 10, 2015 #8

    ZapperZ

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    Betting? Really? Have we sank to THAT level?

    I find that all these "betting" is irrelevant to the physics. This is nothing more than a "My Ego Is Bigger Than Your Ego" demonstration.

    Zz.
     
  10. Jul 10, 2015 #9

    garrett

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    Betting in physics is a sideshow.
     
  11. Jul 10, 2015 #10

    ZapperZ

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    Unfortunately, it appears that the sideshow is a major distraction and has occupied center stage. Would you have created this if it weren't for the "sideshow" to attract an audience?

    And what exactly do you hope to accomplish with this bet, regardless of who "wins"?

    Zz.
     
  12. Jul 10, 2015 #11

    garrett

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    Yes, I made this bet, and this post, to attract attention, so that people would think more about whether or not supersymmetry exists, and the implications of that.
     
  13. Jul 10, 2015 #12

    ZapperZ

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    Do you think this is a wise avenue to pursue, and how it is usually done when there is a pursuit for knowledge? Have we still not learn of what can happen when science seeks publicity to do its work?

    And since when does it require people to "think more" to determine if this exists or not? Isn't the final arbiter will be experimental verification, or non-verification?

    Zz.
     
  14. Jul 10, 2015 #13

    marcus

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    I don't know any "better" way to ascribe operational meaning to probabilities than to use the example of a rational bettor--probabilities are the odds.

    what we call verification and non-verification are defined in terms of odds, i.e. probabilities.
     
  15. Jul 10, 2015 #14

    marcus

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    I suppose that scientific research can be understood as decision-making under uncertainty, maybe even game theoretically or within a BAYESIAN framework.
    We are never completely sure that any theory is 100% correct, or that it cannot be improved on, but we bet on it every time we make a calculation that matters. People routinely make decisions in the face of incomplete knowledge and can be said to bet their credibility, bet their careers, funding, professional standing, perks, on the which lines of research they choose to pursue.
    There is nothing immoral or frivolous about this, AFAICS.

     
  16. Jul 10, 2015 #15

    garrett

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    One of the reasons I went into physics is because I didn't want to deal with people. Almost all human endeavors are centered around interactions with, or the whims of, other people. I was delighted to be able to study mathematics and physics that has an existence independent of humanity. But the idea that scientific opinion changes based on experiment alone was, and is, naive. People, including me, are rationalizing animals. When evidence starts to build that our opinions are wrong, we first respond by slightly tweaking our theories... "oh, we haven't seen those particles yet because they must have higher masses," until doing that gets so ridiculous that we are forced to confront reality, and change our minds. I think betting is an important part of that process. It does cater to a low-brow audience, and draw attention. But it also forces people to confront reality, so I think betting is a good thing.
     
  17. Jul 10, 2015 #16

    marcus

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    Sorry, post crossed,. this is in response to something Z said:
    "Do you think this is a wise avenue to pursue, and how it is usually done when there is a pursuit for knowledge? Have we still not learn of what can happen when science seeks publicity to do its work?"

    Well there are issues of taste. Tokens of honor like bottles of wine might seem more genteel than large dollar amounts. Humorous stakes like encyclopedias might be just as instructive to the public as large dollar amounts.

    But other things being equal I think the spectacle of a few scientists with name-recognition making public wagers can be educational.

    It makes the uncertainty and the suspense REAL for members of the public. IMHO the mind better grasps the issue to be resolved when it is put in those terms.

    I like the fact of wagering better than some other kinds of publicizing: groundless claims, hype, oversimplified metaphors, rhetoric.
     
  18. Jul 10, 2015 #17

    atyy

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    I once heard a lecture by Steven Weinberg, in which he explained that that is called "hedging". Of course, we know how well that has worked out.

    Edit: Oops, actually Frank did the opposite of what Weinberg and Hawking did, which is to bet against their own favourites.
     
  19. Jul 10, 2015 #18

    garrett

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  20. Jul 10, 2015 #19

    atyy

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    @garrett, but if they have detected and not discovered, won't that take some months or years to decide after analysis of the data?
     
  21. Jul 10, 2015 #20

    garrett

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    Well, the meaning of the bet was about superparticles being discovered. But I messed up in my tweet, so the decision is now up to Max.
     
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