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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Deeds of Derring-Do | Full of Wild Inaccuracies and Exaggerations

In which I mix science and politics: surely a winning combination! [20080910|09:51]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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Dear Tin Foil Hat Brigade,

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN was switched on this morning. The beam has made it all the way around the 27 km ring.

Please note that the Earth is still intact. Not, mind you, that there was ever more than a miniscule probability of it even creating miniature black holes, let alone of those black holes doing anything other than collapsing instantly. So please, go back to your television set. Enjoy the special episode of Torchwood. And for the love of Pete, stop posting drivel on the internets about how the LHC is going to destroy the world.

xoxo,
nanila

P.S. If you can't see the point of doing such research at all, perhaps the words of C.H. Llewellyn-Smith may help to change your mind. "Given that basic scientists are motivated by the desire to gain priority, and generally to publish and publicise their work, whereas applied scientists working in industry are motivated by the desire to protect, hide and patent, it may paradoxically be that there is more spin-off [technology] from basic than applied research." (emphasis mine, props to nimoloth for the link)

Dear America,

Personal circumstances that make it unlikely notwithstanding: If you elect the representatives of the Tin Foil Hat Brigade to presidential office come November, I am so never coming back.

With extraordinarily mixed emotions about my nationality,
nanila
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2008-09-10 09:15 (UTC)
I don't like the "protect, hide and patent" attitude in industry. It's so different from academia. Sometimes even, people within work also won't share what they know in case it makes them less valuable to the company - how sad is that?

Imagine how much progress could be made in the world if industry was open source?

On the other hand, imagine how much progress could be make in the world if academia had the same financial motivations and deadlines as industry...
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-17 18:28 (UTC)
I'm not sure academia is immune to the "protect, hide and patent" mentality either. The branches of physics & chemistry that you & I have worked in are pretty devoid of it, I think, because they're basic research with no profit motive.

But academic labs in other branches of science are just as protective of their results as commercial ones. Biochemistry springs immediately to mind - I've heard some horror stories about people who are so concerned about being "scooped" that they fail to share equipment with people in their own group, let alone their data. Even the magnetometer laboratory I work in now doesn't share certain design details with potential rivals, because we're developing new technologies.

I think academia is moving in the direction of having financial motivations and deadlines, though. The regular, frantic competition to submit proposals for grant money seems most illustrative of this.
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[User Picture]From: ironed_orchid
2008-09-10 11:38 (UTC)
I love the LHC.

Worst case scenario: we won't know anything before we cease to exist. Best case scenario: we all turn into zombies. Probable scenario: scientists learn stuff, life continues as normal.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-17 18:21 (UTC)
We're still not zombies. Damn, this scientific research business is slow.
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[User Picture]From: girl_onthego
2008-09-10 12:29 (UTC)
Thanks, I was hoping somebody would post about whether they'd started it up already or not. :)

Can you start looking for someone to marry me so that if we do elect the tin foil hat brigade, I can escape? :/
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[User Picture]From: girl_onthego
2008-09-10 12:30 (UTC)
Also - there's a special episode of Torchwood?

(It's so sad that both this and my fears about the LHC were in no way ironic...ah, the curse of an overactive imagination. :/)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-10 12:34 (UTC)
Special radio episode of Torchwood on Radio 4 airs today here!
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[User Picture]From: girl_onthego
2008-09-10 13:05 (UTC)
COOL! I hope I can listen to it later because I will not be home in time to hear that!
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[User Picture]From: slutbunwalla
2008-09-10 12:32 (UTC)
I just posted about CERN, too, and the imminent doom it will bring upon us.
Nevermind the natural occurrence of similar incidents outside of the particle colliders and how none of those have destroyed us...


yet...




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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-17 18:19 (UTC)
In case you haven't seen it, although I'm sure you have: The LHC webcams.
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[User Picture]From: slutbunwalla
2008-09-17 18:44 (UTC)
Actually I did see the link to them but I dismissed it because I just thought it would be pointless to look at an underground tube...and maybe a computer screen with inscrutable information on it...

I didn't wait long enough, I see.

:^P
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-17 18:49 (UTC)
Haha, I did exactly the same thing when I was first forwarded the link. The third time I received it was in the comments below and I thought, fine, I'll click on it, and I waited, and lo, there was hilarity.
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[User Picture]From: slutbunwalla
2008-09-17 19:26 (UTC)
I was wondering why people were so excited about it...
I wonder how many other people reacted the same way we did.
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[User Picture]From: ironed_orchid
2008-09-18 01:10 (UTC)
Oh, I just clicked and lolled.
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-09-10 15:40 (UTC)
I am wearing my superstring bikini right now.
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[User Picture]From: nationofsheep
2008-09-10 14:59 (UTC)
I was listening to the BBC this morning and the tin foil hat brigade was the BBC reporter. He kept bringing in these crazy quotes from people around the world. A village in Africa children saying, "If the world ends I will blame the scientists." A policy nut/scientist in Britain, applied sciences blah blah blah. The guy was supposedly interviewing some scientists at CERN and getting reaction to these quotes but never gave them a chance to answer. And really he never let them explain what they were doing beyond saying they turned the damn thing on. I couldn't take, I had to turn it off.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-12 14:56 (UTC)
I got pissed off at Radio 4 on Wednesday morning for similar reasons. The correspondent said, "Oh gosh, they've got to start again," in this patronizing tone that clearly implied, those boffins can never get it right the first time. Excuse me? Hello? Have you ever tried to do experimental physics? It's incredibly rare for any experiment involving ultra-high vacuum and low temperature conditions to work all of the time. In fact, most of them spend about 90% of their time needing maintenance of some sort, and about 10% taking usable data. If it worked reliably and efficiently, it would be called "technology", not "science".
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[User Picture]From: nationofsheep
2008-09-12 18:44 (UTC)
It's like I am always saying to people when they get frustrated with the chaos and moving deadlines of a major software project. "If it had been done before, we would know how to do it. But if it had been done before, we would have just bought the software." Working with the super-sized 60,000 node clusters in the National Labs was like that too. Everyone gathers at 9am. The Cray guy turns it on. The storage people load their code. First person starts their job, second person, CRASH... Wait the rest of the day for a bug report.
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[User Picture]From: victorine
2008-09-10 16:00 (UTC)
A friend of mine posted a picture of this in his journal and I couldn't help thinking it looked a bit like something I'd see with a steampunk costumer attached to it!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-12 14:44 (UTC)
I think it should have a whole squadron of Jaegermonsters guarding it.

Girl Genius == love.
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From: tdj
2008-09-10 16:30 (UTC)
Well, of course! The tiny black holes need time to grow before they consume us all. First come the earthquakes as they much holes in the Earth's crust...

Also, the Higgs boson hates kittens.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-12 14:53 (UTC)
Kittens are dangerous. They've got nasty sharp pointy teeth and bad tempers.
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From: tdj
2008-09-12 17:49 (UTC)
It's already too late!
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[User Picture]From: sanat
2008-09-10 18:17 (UTC)
My exact thought processes:

"What danger was the Earth ever in---OOOOOH TORCHWOOD!"

We all know what I'll be doing when everything does in fact go kaPLOOT. ;)
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[User Picture]From: sanat
2008-09-10 18:19 (UTC)
But WOE, why does it not load for us non-UK fans?! :(
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-09-12 14:50 (UTC)
The States gets everything else first (see: films), so it's only fair, really. ;-)
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