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  1. May 15, 2007 #1

    Chris Hillman

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    Today's issue of the Science Times features a long article by Dennis Overbye on the Large Hadron Collider. It includes some pictures credited to Physics World, Sept. 2004, from which credit I presume the "particle sprays" are in fact either simulations or else do not depict ATLAS data--- my understanding is that ATLAS is not yet operational!

    Just when you'd think they had learned their lesson...
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  3. May 15, 2007 #2


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    So what? Does the caption actually say "this is data from the LHC that isn't even done yet?"

    - Warren
  4. May 15, 2007 #3
    Your understanding is correct. However, I have seen the article online without finding those particle sprays. Besides, everything was pretty clear about the fact that the accelerator is not working yet and that people are eager to see what comes out when it will work... I am puzzled. What is bothering you ? :confused:
    And what is this about ? :bugeye:
  5. May 15, 2007 #4


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    Last edited: May 15, 2007
  6. May 15, 2007 #5
    OK I did not see that.
    I must admit that it can be misleading, but only if one does not pay much attention.
    The first slide says "...accelerator that will smash..."
    Slides 3 and 4 say "detector to go online in summer 2008"

    It seems that scientific communication is one of the most difficult task. Either too simplistic or too cryptic. :frown:
  7. May 15, 2007 #6


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    Well journalism makes the reporting of science simplistic for the masses who would get turned off by rigorous scientific discussion. They also try to use analogies to which non-scientific people can relate. I cringe when I read articles about nuclear energy :uhh: and particle physics. :eek: :rolleyes:
    Last edited: May 16, 2007
  8. May 15, 2007 #7

    Chris Hillman

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    Journalistic ethics

    What Astronuc said. Bearing in mind that major news organizations have recently been raked over the coals (and quite properly so!) for publishing electronically doctored photographs purporting to be depict "the way it was".
  9. May 17, 2007 #8


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    Compared to other news articles on LHC i think that to be relatively informative. In as much as it shows the basic layout and purpose of the calorimeters, and shows the principle behind identification. thats much more than I would expect from a paper. Normaly you see headline like "boffins discover secret to universe."

    perhaps "arts jornalist writes 1000 word science article based on 5 minutes research" would be a more apt headline
  10. May 17, 2007 #9


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    I personally am always happy to see an effort from publications for the general public to report on fundamental research, even if they are not rigorous. I think that it's much much better for the general public to have some sense of what is done in basic research and to get some sense of what excites and intrigues researchers than to keep things to "ourselves" and to tell the general public that they can't understand thebasic ideas of what we are doing because they don't know enough maths! That would be so self-righteous!:grumpy: :grumpy: :grumpy:
  11. May 17, 2007 #10
    I want to take that even further. Nobody on Earth has read enough to claim having the total knowledge necessary to demonstrate everything belonging to e.g. string theory, even e.g. Ed Witten. One embarquing on studying, at a technical level, a new subject, can gather only a limited quantity of references, or would spend his entire life only doing systematic bibliographies. At some point, one decides he has been deep enough in the successive layers of articles piling up, has gotten sufficient background to start tackle new problems, and in a few years, one can actually become a woldwide acknowledged specialist.

    So ? There is nothing wrong about this (well, I am not going into the specific debate of string theory and Not Even Wrong. The same process applies to all science today.). Knowing some maths enables to communicate in an unambiguous manner. But a long time ago when I was a (pre-)teenager, reading unrigorous books aiming at satisfying elementary curiosity has wet my appetite to go further. It was very important. Then I learnt the maths at school, decided to go into physics, and am now ready to learn by myslef when I need more. Even today, being able in principle to understand e.g. all QCD, I have in practice ommited a lot of proofs when building my cultural luggage. I trust peer reviewed journals, and have no time to re-do everything on ArXiv !

    So when I want to choose which next subject I am going to put my nose on, there is always a level at which I content myself with the author, even though a stricter rigor would require me to continue in depth instead of expanding in width. It kills all creativity to be too rigourous. Everybody does that today. We read something at a certain level, and we can go deeper, or we can go sideways, but going deeper and deeper can take forever.

    For the case at hand I still do not see what is wrong with the content of what I saw. Astronuc's link is supposed to be read from the beginning to the end. It is unfair to take one single slide and claim "this specific sentence is ambiguous". The original content seems to me to be well suited for the audience.

    Sure, it happens to me too very often, and at some point Zz started a thread on this. I agree that scientific communication is difficult and frustrating, but then also, one should respect the efforts when there is nothing wrong to reproach an article with.
    Last edited: May 17, 2007
  12. May 19, 2007 #11


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    I agree. It's just the scientific journalism can be a double-edged sword.

    I appreciate well-written and accurate articles on science, even if written by a non-scientific journalist. However, when an article is over-simplisitc or inaccurate, it may give rise to false expectation, or misinformation, which can be detrimental to the public perception. When scientific endeavors are promoted by over-simplistic or overly positive journalism, and then fail to meet expectations, I think there is real damage - like wasted resources.

    I don't like hype - it is counter productive. But some/much of journalism, particularly these days, seems to be about 'hype' so that is sells to the market.
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