Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why is CERN better known than ITER?

  1. Aug 28, 2008 #1
    I find it surprising that whilst the average person will know about CERN, due to its heavy coverage in the news and media, only very few people will have heard of ITER. This seems strange because ITER will probably have a much greater effect upon the average person's life than anything that may occur at the LHC at CERN.

    I suppose the main reason is that the LHC turns on this year whereas ITER is still a decade away but I must admit I am still surprised by the general public's interest in the less applied areas of physics.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2008 #2
    It's because CERN is the first one listed in the phone book. If you want to have a well known particle accelerator you should name it AAA Particle Accelerator.
     
  4. Aug 28, 2008 #3

    Gokul43201

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The general public's interest in physics has always been in the less applied areas. How many pop-sci books can you name in Condensed Matter Physics?
     
  5. Aug 28, 2008 #4
    How do you know that !? Why would people even notice that their electricity is no longer produced with fission, but with fusion ? CERN is not just LHC and has already brought many things to us, such as PF (that is, internet)
     
  6. Aug 28, 2008 #5

    vanesch

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    CERN is old (started in 1954), has a great PR department (like claiming they invented the internet, while they only invented HTML and HTTP 0.9 or "recreate the big bang" etc...), and, well, did a lot of discoveries too :smile:
     
  7. Aug 28, 2008 #6
    Well at least without their contribution it's not clear when it would have happen. How it happened is quite an interesting story.

    But it's true that they have a complete army of PR compared to most of the other labs.
     
  8. Aug 28, 2008 #7

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yeah, after all, Al Gore never worked for them! :rofl:
     
  9. Aug 28, 2008 #8

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    It's the same reason why Einstein is more well-known that Bardeen, even though Bardeen is the only person who has ever won the Nobel Prize in physics twice. It is certainly related to what Gokul is implying.

    Zz.
     
  10. Aug 28, 2008 #9

    cristo

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Yup.. theoretical physics is just more interesting than experimental physics.

    *runs and hides under a particle collider*
     
  11. Aug 28, 2008 #10

    Kurdt

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Is that your theoretical particle collider cristo?
     
  12. Aug 28, 2008 #11

    cristo

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Yup, that's right.. my collider of theoretical particles :biggrin:
     
  13. Aug 28, 2008 #12

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Er.. I don't think that's what I or Gokul is implying. Besides, Bardeen is actually a theorist, even though he was involved in the development of the transistor. BCS theory is certainly a theory.

    Zz.
     
  14. Aug 28, 2008 #13

    cristo

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I know.. I was joking.
     
  15. Aug 28, 2008 #14
    Yeah, I suppose looking at some of the crazier parts of theoretical physics (making claims about time-travel and multiple universes etc.) in a pop-sci manner is probably more interesting to the general public than condensed matter physics.

    But that is only because it is in a pop-sci manner, otherwise the theoretical side is probably even less accessible to the layman than the more experimental, applied areas.

    For example, it is reasonable to explain superconductance in a simple manner as the lack of interaction between the electrons and the lattice due to the pseudo-spin created by cooper pairs which mean it behaves like a boson. But trying to explain twistor theory to a layman or the whole host of theories known as M-theory is pretty much impossible.

    And yes, I think people will care that their power is generated by fusion instead of fission if it means the cost is greatly decreased whereas I see little reason for the layman to care about the existence of the Higgs Boson.

    Someone should try and write a popular account of the less glamourous areas of physics just to see if it is possible to do so in an exciting yet accurate manner.
     
  16. Aug 28, 2008 #15
    Every year we get a stream of freshmen who want to major in physics and when I ask why, they always say they are interested in "quantum" and "string theory" and "relativity". The catch? They have no idea what those things are even about.

    I admit I was the same way, except I hadn't heard about "string theory" until I was already majoring in physics.

    It's kind of like how when people think of the military, they think of commandos, and not the engineers, the cooks, the janitors, etc.
     
  17. Aug 28, 2008 #16
    I think about the bullets and the bombs.

    Its all about the PR which then eventually relates to money. Why do people buy Dell PCs when they are over priced pieces of @#$%? Its because they shove there name down everyones throat so when someone needs a new laptop, they immediately think Dell. So when governments get money to spend on science, they think CERN.
     
  18. Aug 28, 2008 #17

    cristo

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Come on, that's just nonsense.
     
  19. Aug 28, 2008 #18
    Which part? The government spending money on science or them giving it to CERN?
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2008
  20. Aug 28, 2008 #19

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    True - they spend it on renaming PPARC again.
     
  21. Aug 28, 2008 #20

    cristo

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Your implication that there is some guy sat in a government office that suddenly thinks "hey, I need to spend some money, and this guy from CERN was on the news last night.. let's give it to them."

    Haha.. that was a lot of money spent!
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Why is CERN better known than ITER?
  1. It's better than sex! (Replies: 17)

Loading...