# Physics, What have you done lately?

• News
Just saw thishttps://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/why-some-scientists-say-physics-has-gone-off-the-rails/ar-AAy8CZ7?li=BBnbcA1 calling attention to an apparent lack of progress in physics over the last 40 or so years. The Higgs boson and gravity waves are prediction from a former times and don't count.
The Multiverse is more philosophy than physics and dark matter/energy, well they're dark. Lots of research and publications but where's the meat.

Haborix
This article is mistitled given its extremely narrow view of what constitutes physics. Even if you lump the membership of Astrophysics, Gravitation, and Particles & Fields together, you don't get to 20% of total https://www.aps.org/membership/units/upload/YearlyUnit18.pdf. Now, I am willing to have the same conversation that this article tries to have about the entirety of physics, but I won't have it on the grounds of some aesthetic notion of "fundamentalness".

Vagn
Homework Helper
Gold Member
The article talks about no sucessful predictions since 1970. Should we send a list?

bhobba
Staff Emeritus
2021 Award
You know, nothing interesting has happened in baseball in the last 40 years either. People still try to hit a moving ball with a stick.

StatGuy2000, mfb, Dale and 4 others
It is true that the greater majority physicists are doing other work and with great societal and economic benefits. The article unfortunately as noted seemed to ignore the majority of this physics research. However the majority of physics work is riding the wave of mature physical principles and now applying physics to other fields..

The promise of particle physics has been the extension of our understanding of the fundamental underpinnings of the universe. In the quest for this knowledge 10's of billions of dollars have been spent e.g., over $50B for the LHC alone. If$50B where spent on getting to the moon and we hadn't accomplished it in 40 yrs I think people would be thinking is it worth it or maybe we should try another approach. Now I'm sure that particle physicist will take exception to the article and see the value in their work.

CERN is entertaining the idea of extending the energy of the facility to 100 TeV with the Future Circular Collider addition by 2035 with a 80 -100 Km circumference. But there is only so much money to go around.

In the article with the likes of Neil Turok and Franck Wlczek making less than enthusiastic comments for the theory that required the need of the LHC for validation the article might raise some eyebrows.

Isn't it true that the crowning achievement so far for the LHC is the discovery of the Higgs paritlcle? But that was expected and not a surprise. In L Susskind's book "The Cosmic Landscape" he states "Nobody has ever seen a Higgs particle,... The difficulty isn't in detecting them but is in producing them in the first place... But both the Higgs particle and Higgs field are so important to the success of the Standard Model that no one seriously questions their existence."

You know, nothing interesting has happened in baseball in the last 40 years either. People still try to hit a moving ball with a stick.

You know, that how I feel.

Chris Riccard
LIGOmyEggO, :)

Staff Emeritus
2021 Award
Now I'm sure that particle physicist will take exception to the article and see the value in their work.

I'm a particle physicist, but I have better things to do that defend against ill-informed potshots. Go out and educate yourself and come back with valid criticisms.

My posting of the NBC article was to call attention to information presented to the general public that might have an impact on future research programs. My comments on the article (post 5) were meant as what might be a possible reaction to the article by a member of the general public who may have been leisurely following the progress of the LHC..

I'm a particle physicist, but I have better things to do that defend against ill-informed potshots

I hope that is not the attitude of the particle physics community in general. I am sure those physicist who must go to Congress for the funds for their research do not have that attitude. Luckily congress is continuing to strongly back particle physics research.

The article really isn't about particle physics in particular but what is currently driving it, the theoretical approach. This has been somewhat of an issue for some time as I am sure you are aware.

Staff Emeritus
2021 Award
I hope that is not the attitude of the particle physics community in general. I am sure those physicist who must go to Congress for the funds for their research do not have that attitude. Luckily congress is continuing to strongly back particle physics research.

There is an appropriate response to this, but PF Rules prevent me from posting it.

I have in fact interacted with Congress, primarily staffers, and most of them are sufficiently clued in not to lead off with an arrogant, insulting and horribly misinformed statement - starting with a confusion between theoretical progress and experimental measurement and ending up with the idea that science marches on a clear predictable timeline, and that halfway between, e.g. Newtonian mechanics and Relativity we would have a half-relativistic theory.

phinds
I do not understand your issues. I suppose the article or my interpretation must have touched a sensitive nerve for which I apologize. I was not my intention to offend anybody or the discipline of particle physics and certainly not experimental physics . Regarding your assessment of me, I am not as ignorant or ill informed as you assume. And as for arrogance that is one thing that I have never ever been accused.

Mondayman and russ_watters
Mentor
2021 Award
Please return to the topic. There is no need for personal arguments. NBC isn't a small network, so the article will find its readers and very likely establish some prejudices and wrong impressions about science in general and physics in particular. Thus it is legitimate to ask, how scientists should respond.

I truly believe, that the truth can always be found somewhere in the middle. In this case between ignoring those articles and leave the public ill-informed, or Kaku and pretend the next sci-fi invention is just waiting to happen, i.e. likewise ill-informed. As far as I can judge form my experience, the vast majority of articles deal with those extremes, and attempts to change this, as e.g. Sabine or Terence undertake remain unrecognized. It's an old question, whether and how scientists should do their bit of PR. The congress for funding or similar are the wrong examples. The interested, educated reader of the NYT is - or in this case, the clients of NBC!

Last edited:
bhobba and russ_watters
Mentor
Thread closed temporarily for Moderation. Good people on both sides of this discussion, which can be a difficult topic to discuss.

Mentor
2021 Award
The discussion revealed, that the subject as posed isn't the general question about PR, but poses a direct individual question instead. This is certainly not the place to discuss what I have done lately.