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News Physics and social/economic problems

  1. Jul 24, 2010 #1
    Why should we spent billions of dollars on expensive physics experiments (like CERN and large hadron colliders) just to satisfy our intelectual curiosity in the high-energy physics part, while for the most part, all solutions for human problems are in the low-energy range.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 24, 2010 #2
    Please provide evidence that you have spent billions of dollars.
  4. Jul 24, 2010 #3

    I said "we" meaning governments, science institutions.
  5. Jul 24, 2010 #4


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    Up until recently most people had several particle accelerators in their houses and used them for many hours a day. I still have two, but I don't use them very often anymore. When the first particle accelerator was made, I doubt the designers could see that coming.

    The biggest human problem is probably energy itself and if CERN helps scientists figure out how to make use of nuclear fusion, it'll be well worth the cost.

    "Pure" research may be by definition lacking in practical application, but there is an awful lot that started out as pure research that ultimately proved practically useful.
  6. Jul 24, 2010 #5


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    Because the knowledge gained could be beneficial for our future.

    IMO, human overpopulation is the biggest problem faced by mankind today. It is the cause of pollution, green house gasses (AGW), deforestation, loss of wetlands, destruction of our oceans, depletion of natural resources, and on and on. But reducing overpopulation isn't a popular topic, you won't find politicians jumping on that bandwagon, or grant money given out, or media attention, or movies, or celebrities singing songs.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  7. Jul 24, 2010 #6
    No, you said "we" meaning you have been robbed of your "hardly earned tax money". The truth is, your tax had a very insignificant role in funding scientific experiments. Therefore, your say in the matter is also very insignificant and, from here, the need for scientists to explain to every average Joe why their work is important.

    BTW, do you know what the U.S. yearly military budget is?
  8. Jul 24, 2010 #7
    I didn't imply being robbed, I just implied that instead of over-funding really costy experiments, we could better invest that in solving energy crisis.

    Cutting the military budget (to occupy Iraq for it's oil) is indeed an even better idea, we could solve all the energy problems based on that budget, so we don't need to steal Iraqi oil or pollute the oceans in order to satisfy energy demands.

    We could have already built solar energy stations in half the sahara dessert to satisfy world energy needs for that amounts of money.
  9. Jul 24, 2010 #8
    Of course it could be, but it might just have been a waste of money, energy and materials and human intellect.

    Spending more money on solving energy problems (and the phyisical problems attached to that) is however a far better guarantee on being beneficial for our future.

    The energy problems of humanity are low-energy problems, not high-energy problems.

    You know the main cause of over-population? It's poverty!

    So why are people being kept poor, why don't we invest in some basic human dignity and progress in the field of health-care, housing, education, and that sort of things.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  10. Jul 24, 2010 #9

    Nope. CERN is *not* dealing with that kind of issues, you are mistaken (that experiment, which also happen to be built in France, is called ITER, and ITER promies that in 50 years, we will have nuclear fission - which was promised back 50 years ago also that in 50 years we will have nuclear fission).

    At CERN they just collide protons at high speeds at each others and look into the fragments that are created to see if they find the Higgs boson to check if some weird scientific idea is true. It satisfies a bunch of elite scientists, but has no real purpose, not even in a 1000 years.

    Perhaps we could create our pet-universe one day, but after that tiny inflating bubble detaches from our universe, we never know it's whereabouts. So what use can it have?

    Theoretically that is true, but it is an insufficient legitmation of such very costy experiments.

    As said before, our main focus would have to lie in applications of scientific ideas and technology, which are mostly in the low-energy domain, to built our energy future, away from oil, deep drilling, tar sands, shale oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and all that stuff.

    The problem is that our future lies in those reneweable energy applications, but as of yet (because too much funding is put into high-energy experiments and esp. into military applications) too little is invested in that.
  11. Jul 24, 2010 #10


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    Imagine 100 years ago.... the Rutherford gold foil experiment just shoots a bunch of particles at high speed to see if they get deflected to check if some weird scientific idea is true. It satisfies a bunch of elite scientists, but has no real purpose, not even in a 1000 years
  12. Jul 24, 2010 #11
    Was that a 10 billion dollar experiment?

    And I am not against scientific experiments, not even if they at the time don't seem to have any legitimate direct purpose.

    I am just considering how mucht is to be spent on such experiment in high energy physics, while spending it in low energy physics could be much more fruitfull.

    There are many already discovered scientific technologies that could enhance life for many people, but they get underfunded.

    Or isn't that some consideration?
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