Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Practical benefits of CERN

  • Please log in to reply
29 replies to this topic

#1 CygnuS

CygnuS

    Apollo

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1363
  • Joined: 11 Jul 2011
  • Loc: The Great Rift

Posted 20 August 2019 - 06:22 PM

When people ask why the cost of CERN is worth it, what is the best way to answer? In other words, besides acquiring knowledge, what are the potential ways that smashing tiny stuff together at millions of miles per hour could benefit us? Could it lead to discoveries and/or advancements in medical technology, alternative energies or other cool stuff like that? Has it already discovered something that has benefited humans in a practical sense? If not, what would you guess will be the first big thing that it will accomplish? (I'm speaking on practical terms.....I'm sure we all agree that acquiring knowledge is a big thing) 



#2 llanitedave

llanitedave

    Humble Megalomaniac

  • *****
  • Posts: 29330
  • Joined: 25 Sep 2005
  • Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA

Posted 20 August 2019 - 06:43 PM

If they have to ask, nothing you can say will convince them anyway.  The benefits are mostly long-term, abstract, and unpredictable, as most pure research is.  

 

If it's not making widgets or lowering the price of toilet paper, you cannot convince these people that it's worthwhile.


  • Jim Waters, mich_al, alstarjoey and 2 others like this

#3 Jim Waters

Jim Waters

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2962
  • Joined: 21 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Phoenix, AZ USA

Posted 20 August 2019 - 06:59 PM

If they have to ask, nothing you can say will convince them anyway.  The benefits are mostly long-term, abstract, and unpredictable, as most pure research is.  

 

If it's not making widgets or lowering the price of toilet paper, you cannot convince these people that it's worthwhile.

Well said...



#4 Keith Rivich

Keith Rivich

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1699
  • Joined: 17 Jun 2011
  • Loc: Cypress, Tx

Posted 20 August 2019 - 07:00 PM

 I usually just tell folks that it adds to the total knowledge of the human race. Who knows where it will lead or what practical benefit may come out of the expenditures. A better mousetrap perhaps...



#5 EJN

EJN

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4397
  • Joined: 01 Nov 2005
  • Loc: Between what is and what's not there

Posted 20 August 2019 - 07:19 PM

When people ask why the cost of CERN is worth it, what is the best way to answer? In other words, besides acquiring knowledge, what are the potential ways that smashing tiny stuff together at millions of miles per hour could benefit us? Could it lead to discoveries and/or advancements in medical technology, alternative energies or other cool stuff like that? Has it already discovered something that has benefited humans in a practical sense? If not, what would you guess will be the first big thing that it will accomplish? (I'm speaking on practical terms.....I'm sure we all agree that acquiring knowledge is a big thing) 

 

Well, hypertext markup language (HTML) was invented at CERN as well as the first web browser, and the

uniform resource locator (URL) which is used by the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), the basis of the

world wide web (WWW). Without that the internet would probably still only be used by computer geeks and

universities. This was not a spin-off of particle physics per se, but a means developed for information sharing.

And it transformed the world.


Edited by EJN, 20 August 2019 - 07:28 PM.

  • llanitedave, Jim Waters and NinePlanets like this

#6 DaveC2042

DaveC2042

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 136
  • Joined: 18 Jul 2018
  • Loc: Sydney, Australia

Posted 20 August 2019 - 07:24 PM

I'm reminded of RR Wilson's pitch to Congress for Fermilab funding at the height of the Cold War.  It was assumed he would try to mount some plausible but nonsense argument that it would somehow help Defend America Against Communism.

 

He said "it has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to help make it worth defending".


  • llanitedave and Jim Waters like this

#7 Joe1950

Joe1950

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9596
  • Joined: 22 Aug 2015

Posted 20 August 2019 - 08:15 PM

Often what isn't discovered is as important as what it. 


  • Jim Waters likes this

#8 Cali

Cali

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 976
  • Joined: 21 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Bay Area

Posted 20 August 2019 - 09:55 PM

It keeps a lot of delinquent physicists off of the street, out of the pubs and away from the dole.


  • Joe1950 likes this

#9 Mister T

Mister T

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1772
  • Joined: 01 Feb 2008
  • Loc: Upstate NY

Posted 21 August 2019 - 08:42 AM

Well, hypertext markup language (HTML) was invented at CERN as well as the first web browser, and the

uniform resource locator (URL) which is used by the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), the basis of the

world wide web (WWW). Without that the internet would probably still only be used by computer geeks and

universities. This was not a spin-off of particle physics per se, but a means developed for information sharing.

And it transformed the world.

But Luddites will condemn it to anyone who will read their tweets +/or internet rants...



#10 CygnuS

CygnuS

    Apollo

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1363
  • Joined: 11 Jul 2011
  • Loc: The Great Rift

Posted 21 August 2019 - 05:01 PM

 This was not a spin-off of particle physics per se, but a means developed for information sharing.

 

Thanks for the responses. So far, nobody here has even wildly speculated what practical use(s) could come from the particle physics discoveries. I wasn't able to think of any either so that's why I'm asking. 


  • Joe1950 likes this

#11 Joe1950

Joe1950

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9596
  • Joined: 22 Aug 2015

Posted 21 August 2019 - 05:43 PM

Practical uses from discoveries in pure science or theoretical science usually come as surprises after the fact. Who would have thunk that Quantum Field Theory would lead to staggering advances in solid state electronics and billion dollar industries.

 

You just never know. I think what they want to find is evidence supporting supersymmetry to further give validity to the Standard Model. But haven’t, thus far. 

 

At the very worse, after the facility has finished its work and closed down, some enterprising group may purchase it and open the worlds largest underground ice skating rink, with several restaurants and boutiques along the way. grin.gif


  • llanitedave likes this

#12 CygnuS

CygnuS

    Apollo

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1363
  • Joined: 11 Jul 2011
  • Loc: The Great Rift

Posted 21 August 2019 - 08:57 PM

Practical uses from discoveries in pure science or theoretical science usually come as surprises after the fact. Who would have thunk that Quantum Field Theory would lead to staggering advances in solid state electronics and billion dollar industries.

 

You just never know. 

I understand that. You have to admit though that somebody knows what they're doing when it comes to raising money in the name of science. When you consider the size and cost of this project it is amazing that folks like me (and the other folks who have responded to this thread and are way smarter than me) can't even think of a single specific practical benefit that could come from it......but I guess it's like the lottery...you can't win if you don't play. I suppose It will take a long time to figure out if it will be worth the cost. I'm sure other scientists who aren't involved in CERN could have done a lot of other things with that money and resources.....things that could have both improved our knowledge and benefited us practically......but the jury is still out on CERN. It could end up being worth it compared to the other projects that it beat out for funding.


  • Joe1950 likes this

#13 EJN

EJN

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4397
  • Joined: 01 Nov 2005
  • Loc: Between what is and what's not there

Posted 21 August 2019 - 09:29 PM

What practical benefit comes from astrophysics and cosmology?


  • Keith Rivich likes this

#14 Joe1950

Joe1950

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9596
  • Joined: 22 Aug 2015

Posted 21 August 2019 - 09:41 PM

I understand that. You have to admit though that somebody knows what they're doing when it comes to raising money in the name of science. When you consider the size and cost of this project it is amazing that folks like me (and the other folks who have responded to this thread and are way smarter than me) can't even think of a single specific practical benefit that could come from it......but I guess it's like the lottery...you can't win if you don't play. I suppose It will take a long time to figure out if it will be worth the cost. I'm sure other scientists who aren't involved in CERN could have done a lot of other things with that money and resources.....things that could have both improved our knowledge and benefited us practically......but the jury is still out on CERN. It could end up being worth it compared to the other projects that it beat out for funding.

 

I totally agree. What concerns me is if it finds nothing of substance for the average person to go WOW at, any further projects will be that much more difficult to fund. But to a theoretical physicists, finding nothing is finding something. The lack of predicted discoveries can change the entire landscape and direction of physics.

 

In that sense, it won’t fail from a scientific point of view, but certainly can from a media and public perspective.

 

It’s almost a Kobayashi Maru, to borrow from Star Trek ‘no win scenario.’

 

What a project such as this needs, and I hate to even suggest it, is a very good and science savvy PR department to keep the general public aware of what they are doing, what they are finding, or not, and how this will eventually benefit mankind. Easier said than done. Far over and above a website.

 

Your question is relevant, and the resulting head scratching is very telling as you, EJN and others point to. 



#15 Mister T

Mister T

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1772
  • Joined: 01 Feb 2008
  • Loc: Upstate NY

Posted 22 August 2019 - 06:13 AM

What practical benefit comes from astrophysics and cosmology?

The questions of AP and Cosmology have lead to the development of the LHC and large telescopes and alternate wavelength telescopes/observing systems, the LIGO experiment, the search for neutrinos ....

the science and engineering behind these technologies has helped us better understand not only the cosmos but the nature of our physical world. 



 


  • Joe1950 likes this

#16 bobhen

bobhen

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3284
  • Joined: 25 Jun 2005

Posted 22 August 2019 - 07:51 AM

Most pure research projects don’t have a “practical” goal as a objective when they are begun. They have a “knowledge-based” goal.

 

But the journey itself and need to develop new engineering and new technologies in order to achieve that goal, or the actual end results can both lead to not only practical benefits but also to whole new industries. You just never know at the start.

 

But the main reason to do these large research projects like CERN and the Apollo program etc. might be as simple as this statement: Man does not live by bread alone.

 

That statement is what differentiates humans from every other animal on the planet.

 

Bob


  • Joe1950 likes this

#17 EJN

EJN

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4397
  • Joined: 01 Nov 2005
  • Loc: Between what is and what's not there

Posted 22 August 2019 - 10:10 AM

The questions of AP and Cosmology have lead to the development of the LHC and large telescopes and alternate wavelength telescopes/observing systems, the LIGO experiment, the search for neutrinos ....

the science and engineering behind these technologies has helped us better understand not only the cosmos but the nature of our physical world.




It was a rhetorical question...

#18 EJN

EJN

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4397
  • Joined: 01 Nov 2005
  • Loc: Between what is and what's not there

Posted 22 August 2019 - 10:14 AM

Man does not live by bread alone.


But man can live by pizza and beer alone and be perfectly content.
:yay:

#19 ColoHank

ColoHank

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4779
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2007
  • Loc: western Colorado

Posted 22 August 2019 - 02:19 PM

One undeniably practical benefit was that it employed a lot of people in its design, planning, construction, continuing operation (including the generation of power to feed the beast), data analysis and interpretation, and the dissemination of findings.  Those people take their earnings and buy groceries, shoes, cars, clothing, and other stuff, which benefits the people who make and sell such things.  That's practical, at least in an economic and political sense, because it means jobs, jobs, jobs...

 

As for the theoretical stuff and any derivative practical applications, there are very few people in this world who are even remotely qualified to understand and to judge.  Most of us, including me, simply don't have a clue. 

 

I wonder, though, if someday every fifth-grader will be conversant with at least the basics of the knowledge gained?  Science and understanding are like that.  Today's distant, seemingly unapproachable frontier becomes tomorrow's familiar old back yard.


  • Joe1950 likes this

#20 CygnuS

CygnuS

    Apollo

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1363
  • Joined: 11 Jul 2011
  • Loc: The Great Rift

Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:11 PM

I totally agree. What concerns me is if it finds nothing of substance for the average person to go WOW at, any further projects will be that much more difficult to fund.

I have a similar concern with the James Webb Space Telescope. If it fails the public will expect it to get fixed like Hubble. When they are told that is not possible because it is in a nonservicable orbit I suspect public outrage will lead to a little budget adjustment. Taxpayers (for better or for worse) want something practical for their investment. ,


  • Joe1950 likes this

#21 Joe1950

Joe1950

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9596
  • Joined: 22 Aug 2015

Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:24 PM

There is a new thread on that very topic. There are hundreds of steps that all must go right for it to be deployed successfully. If not, no fix-it mission is possible.

 

What a set-back that would be to cosmology.



#22 CygnuS

CygnuS

    Apollo

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1363
  • Joined: 11 Jul 2011
  • Loc: The Great Rift

Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:28 PM

When most science projects try to get funding I'm sure one of their selling points is the potential for practical benefits in addition (although often secondary) to the accumulation of knowledge. Since this has been the most expensive science project in history it would be surprising that all of the original and continuing funding could have happened without scientists having to speculate on a single possible practical benefit. This is why I suspect there has to be at least one. 


  • Joe1950 likes this

#23 Joe1950

Joe1950

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9596
  • Joined: 22 Aug 2015

Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:48 PM

Interesting. And very possible.

 

Evan a revolutionary theoretical breakthrough such as quantum gravity, grand unification or finding dark matter would only amuse the general public. People aren't as science savvy or curious as when Einstein was popular.

 

They want Velcro, better phones, teleportation or cold fusion to cut utility bills. I can't even hazard a bad guess, but I hope you're right!



#24 bobhen

bobhen

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3284
  • Joined: 25 Jun 2005

Posted 23 August 2019 - 07:25 AM

But man can live by pizza and beer alone and be perfectly content.
yay.gif

Oh, I bet those physicists and engineers at CERN drink a lot beer and eat "A LOT" of pizza. And yet they are, by nature, a discontented lot.

 

Bob


  • llanitedave and Joe1950 like this

#25 Todd N

Todd N

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 219
  • Joined: 07 Dec 2007

Posted 27 August 2019 - 10:27 AM

2012 article puts the cost of the finding the Higgs with the LHC in perspective.

 

https://www.ibtimes....-billion-721503

 

"To put the costs(13.25 Billion/) in perspective, the total cost of finding the Higgs boson has been less than one year of NASA's budget (an estimated $17.711 billion for 2013). The 14-year project cost less than 2.2 percent of the United States' estimated military budget for 2013."


  • Joe1950 likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics