This Week’s Hype

Now that the LHC has turned out to be dud, producing no black holes or extra dimensions, the latest news is that physicists are planning a new machine, “to follow in the footsteps of the Large Hadron Collider”. This one will be based on “A laser powerful enough to tear apart the fabric of space”, able to “rip a hole in spacetime”, and it will do this much more cheaply than the LHC ($1.6 billion).

For details, see for instance here, here and here. The new laser will also explain what dark matter is, and provide new treatments for cancer.

It’s unclear to me who is responsible for the extra-dimensional hype, which appears to be inspired by ADD models that were popular 10 years ago (and that became much less so once the LHC turned on and saw nothing).

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56 Responses to This Week’s Hype

  1. Jim Rohlf says:

    emile:
    MET = missing transverse energy

  2. Bernhard says:

    Jim,

    This is a protected link.

  3. A. says:

    I seem to have come late to this party. I’m working on ELI stuff. I’m shocked by how bad the Telegraph article is and I agree with some comments above that “we” are not doing ourselves any favours by promoting the machine in this way.

    ELI will not get closer than two orders of magnitude *below* the Schwinger limit (at least not for the foreseeable future). This doesn’t mean that there is no chance of seeing the Schwinger effect, but it is not the first experiment they’ll be doing. I think the attosecond science, medical imaging, radiography cases for ELI are perhaps stronger, but that’s not my area and it seems the higher-ups want to keep the “fundamental physics” aspects in the public eye, and that seems to require this ridiculous sensationalism. Quite how committed they are to doing QED experiments… well, time will tell.

    Also depressing is the list of comments in the Telegraph article which reveals both the woeful levels of scientific education in the UK and the abstract terror which such press releases can engender in the public eye. People are actually _scared_ that ELI will kill us all. Of course you can’t stand up and say “oh come on, it’s just a big laser pointer” without jeopardising both your funding and your prospects in the field.

  4. Bernhard says:

    Off-topic, but fresh hype:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228374.500-nuclear-clock-could-steal-atomic-clocks-crown.html

    “Such clocks could shed light on string theory. The frequency of the jumps in a nuclear clock will depend on the strong nuclear force, while the jumps by electrons in atomic clocks depend on a different fundamental force. So together they could reveal if the relative strength of the forces changes, as string theory has it.”

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