# Scientists Ask Congress To Fund $50 Billion Science Thing The latest issue of the Onion has some HEP-related coverage. It includes a nifty graphic, and has this inspirational message from one of our congress-people “Now, I’m no science major, but if I’m being told by a group of people that the protons, neutrons, and electrons need unifying, then I think we owe it to the American people to go in and unify them,” Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) said. “After all, isn’t a message of unity what we want to send to our children?” This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ### 26 Responses to Scientists Ask Congress To Fund$50 Billion Science Thing

1. Chris Oakley says:

The graphic looks like a Tokamak to me. So all that High Energy Physicists need to do is to claim that Synchrotrons, like Tokamaks, are a stepping stone to solving the world’s energy problems and funding will be secured.

2. Yatima says:

People actually have time to read the Onion?

Well, this is clearly the International Torus Experimental Reactor (ITER):

You can even see a loop or glowing closed string in the cavity. I will get my coat now.

3. Paulo Guerra says:

Hi, I’m from Brazil and I thought only brazilians politicians give declarations like that.

4. hmmm says:

This is a must read for all high energy physicists.

I don’t think it’s funny. I think it’s a good look in the mirror for a lot of people who have forgotten that; ultimately, we serve at the pleasure of the public.

We won WWII and fueled myriad technological advancements. We deserved the MASSIVE govenment welfare programs we currently enjoy (NSF, DOE, national labs….).

When high energy physics lost contact with the real world, and even the hope of gaining any tangible benefits started to fade….the funding started to fade.

Now HEP is lost in the multiverse….WTF.

“While expense is something to consider, I think it’s very important that we have this kind of scientific apparatus, because, in the end, I have always said that science is more important than it is unimportant,” Committee chairman Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) said. “And it’s essential we stay ahead of China, Japan, and Germany in science. We are ahead in space, with the NASA rockets going to other planets, so we should be ahead in science too.”

“These scientists could trim \$10 million if they would just cut out some of the purple and blue spheres,” said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), explaining that he understood the need for an abundance of reds and greens. “With all of those molecules and atoms going in every direction, the whole thing looks a bit unorganized, especially for science.”

“Now, I’m no science major, but if I’m being told by a group of people that the protons, neutrons, and electrons need unifying, then I think we owe it to the American people to go in and unify them,” Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) said. “After all, isn’t a message of unity what we want to send to our children?”

“Fifty billion dollars to buy atoms is too much,” Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) said. “Frankly, I don’t understand why they don’t just gather up all the leftover atoms in their test tubes and Bunsen burners. I think the scientists should have to use those up before getting new ones.”

By gumbo, but we’re a sharp bunch, aren’t we? With smart cookies like that leading us, our superiority in science is assured.

There is clearly a pattern here. I seriously think these people are making it up. I cannot conceive somebody uttering such idiocies. Rather, I think they want to convey the message that they are ordinary people who watch football and don’t understand science.

Whether that is the case or not, I feel for you guys. I guess you did not deserve such a government.

Cheers,
T.

7. a.k. says:

..one has to note that this is a brilliant text, it is brilliant as only satirical texts can be, it even refers to ‘self-referentiality’ (‘I’ve always said that science is more important than it is unimportant’), which is clearly a non-trivial problem both in mathematics and physics, this ‘..where science will ultimately occur..’ on the other hand links with an evil undertone to the fact, that the LHC will -possibly- force more scientific concepts to vanish or to remain shady areas of speculation than to transport them to a surface where they could ‘ultimately occur’, but anyway: the combination of dumb every-day belief and scientific arrogance and impenetrability is too typical for western societies not to be matched by satirical intelligence.

a quantum diaries survivor says, “There is clearly a pattern here. I seriously think these people are making it up. I cannot conceive somebody uttering such idiocies. Rather, I think they want to convey the message that they are ordinary people who watch football and don’t understand science.”

Yeah, okay, seriously. There IS a clear pattern here. I would submit that even in the event they are (ALL of these quoted) “making it up…in order to convey the message that they are ordinary people who watch football and don’t understand science” is sufficient testimony for the existence of idiocy. Whether you can or can’t conceive of people “uttering such idiocies” is entirely irrelevant. (I have trouble conceiving the possibility myself…it means nothing). The net idiocy, however, remains.

In fact, the conscious masquerade of deception which you propose as an explanation for such foolish statements that can impinge on the future of the country is arguably tantamount to unpatriotic behavior, if not treason. In terms of government, I can’t conceive of anything more idiotic than that. In a supposed “democracy”, such behavior becomes downright ludicrous.

NO. I don’t buy it. I really DO think these people ARE actually that stupid. But I ALSO think they revel in their culturally-instilled bragging-rights for stupidity.

They don’t need to pretend to be smart or stupid, but that doesn’t absolve them of their ignorance where it is most painfully apparent, nor does it mean we should let them off the hook just because they feel a need to build an affinity with common folk who enjoy, say, football.

I enjoy a good football game too, but I don’t feel any need to act like an idiot in an attempt to ingratiate myself to other enthusiasts. Such an approach I THINK would be insulting to my fellows. At the very least. I’ll continue to assume they are smart, and respect them for it, thank you. Similarly, I’d just like to see reps and senators start acting like we aren’t nearly as dumb as they evidently think we are.

What in the world would it take for our political leadership to HONESTLY espouse and promote the merits of scientific literacy and public education in general, for the authentic good of the country, if not the world, with the same (deceptive!) zeal they apply to getting reelected? What the flaming heck do these people think the purpose of their job is???

Yes, I know those may be construed as rhetorical questions. We all “know” what politics is ultimately all about, right? Sure. But they still need real answers. The trouble is, hardly anybody has the guts to ask the hard questions anymore.

9. anon. says:

This is the funniest comment thread I’ve seen in quite some time.

10. Lowenergy says:

According to wikipedia, the Onion is a US parody newspaper. This mean that politicians have still some road ahead of them! 🙂

11. non-a says:

I guess you did not deserve such a government.

Mmmmhh… talking about congress people, would Cicciolina have done better? But, on second thought, at least there was one thing she demonstrably did very well. That’s probably more than can be said about any other politician anywhere…

12. anonymous says:

This is a (very funny) satirical article from a well-known satirical paper. Has anyone considered the possibility that the dumb comments from the congressmen (on whose smartness I have few illusions anyway) were just made up by the writer?

13. parmenidis says:

I ‘m kind of perplexed here, did anyone of you took the article really seriously ?
Uhm anyway there is another one which I find even more funny

“Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory”

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512

Peter you are right it’s not string theory that unifies physics.
…..It’s jesus

14. D R Lunsford says:

My browser can’t display extra dimensions. Do I need a new plugin?

-drl

15. Chris Oakley says:

Hi Parmenidis,

You could be on to something here. God may have created String Theorists to formulate non-predictive theories, so that mankind would never cease to be in awe of the wondrousness and incomprehensibility of the universe.

16. Fascinating hypothesis Chris. My own is that God himself does not understand the universe. He was experimenting with singularities when the whole thing blew him off. In that sense we resemble Her: and string theorists even a tad more.

Anyway, I rather wanted to answer retardigrate here:

“What in the world would it take for our political leadership to HONESTLY espouse and promote the merits of scientific literacy and public education in general, for the authentic good of the country, if not the world, with the same (deceptive!) zeal they apply to getting reelected? What the flaming heck do these people think the purpose of their job is???”

I think you are giving for granted something which is not – i.e., that everybody agrees that scientific literacy is good for the world. That assumption is a deadly sin. Many of those who can’t spell quark actually think science is just a pastime.

Cheers,
T.

17. Arun says:

God just has to make itself unambiguously apparent for mankind to be in permanent awe of the mysteriousness and incomprehensibility of the universe; no need to mess around with string theory.

Anyway, re: string theory, it is amazing that we think we have all the physical principles at hand to specify physics at the highest energy.

18. rob says:

Great. But the all-time classic onion physics story is this one:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38718

If anyone mistook that one for a real story, I’d be awfully surprised.

19. Changcho says:

I suppose it is very telling (mostly about the US political leadership) that some could not tell that the story is a parody…

20. Anon says:

Actually, it’s very telling about the general readership of this blog. Woit’s rants against string theory and science in general only gain traction because such people exist.

21. non-a says:

gainst string theory and science in general only gain traction because such people exist.

Which leads us back to the old wisdom that anyone doubting string theory is an anti-science moron with an IQ lower than 10.

Frankly, ST supremacists don’t seem to have any new ideas. May that be because they are string theorists?

22. Anon says:

Actually, a good fraction of the people who closely follow this blog are ‘alternative scientists’ who are against string theory essentially because it represents ‘the establishment’. Woit essentially exploits these people in order to gain a following.

23. a.k. says:

..well, I know, and they are leftist, self-righteous ‘non-producers’ who are mainly interested in following their path into eco-phantasizing foreagers’ liefstyle, while leading comfortable lives on the cost of all the others who are following the thoughts and ideas of others, as it is adequate for serious scientists. If these latter, serious scientists however, run into trouble with their department, they invert their views from constant praising to qualifying their former colleagues as being ‘parasites’ etc., as if one behaviour would naturally induce the other. Anyway: I strongly recommend Horkheimer/Adorno: ‘Die Dialektik der Aufklaerung’, this should give enough material for some TOE-reflections.

24. Marty Tysanner says:

“Anon” says,

Actually, a good fraction of the people who closely follow this blog are ‘alternative scientists’ who are against string theory essentially because it represents ‘the establishment’.

This could be true, but what is the factual basis for saying it? Even granting the possibility that the comment may be valid for the range of commenters, “Anon” is surely aware that many more people read blogs than comment in them, and there is no obvious correlation between the viewpoints of those who leave comments and those who don’t.

“Anon’s” comment could equally apply to any number of other blogs, for example Cosmicvariance (as a perusal of comments on string theory related topics there indicates). The comment would probably be equally correct if it were rephrased along these lines: A good fraction of the readers who closely follow [insert ST-oriented blog name here] are string theory partisans essentially because it represents ‘the establishment’. That could also be true, but so what? Observations like these are basically content-free and irrelevant to whether the blog itself is valuable.

“Anon” (and others with similar views) appear to want consumers of their derogatory comments about Not Even Wrong to associate skeptical views of mainstream research directions in HEP with being “uninformed” or “contrarian for its own sake.” That is a very simplistic view of skepticism, one that itself seems very uniformed. It is also very insulting to the apparently significant number of serious scientists and mathematicians who at least occasionally visit this blog. Perhaps “Anon” should talk to physicists from a variety of disciplines before deciding that skepticism about string theory indicates a contrarian world view.

Finally, the “observation” that

Woit essentially exploits these people in order to gain a following.

is much different than my own perception. I don’t see Peter cunningly marshalling the forces of the ignorant and anti-establishment folks to bolster his case. Perhaps “Anon” has overlooked Peter’s repeated pleas to stop the stream of uninformed or repetitive anti-string theory comments, or his judicious pruning of many such comments…

Frankly, given the apparent ignorance and simple-minded analysis that is evident in “Anon’s” comment, it is quite understandable to me why he/she wishes to remain anonymous.

25. Arun says:

Re: God (joke by Gerry Porter, rec.humor.funny)

(UPI) Heaven. God has lost Her NSF grant. The National Science Foundation cited three reasons in deciding not to renew the Holy Grant.

1. Although God has done good creative work in the past, there has been no recent evidence of creativity.

2. No one as yet has been able to reproduce Her experimental results.

3. She has only written one book, and it has never been subject to peer review.

26. Arun says:

Phillip W. Nabours:

This actually happened, I didn’t make this up.

Prof: Some people have proposed using Krypton gas in scintillator detectors.

Grad Student: Won’t that scare away the superstrings?