3 comments on “Countdown to collision!

  1. Thanks for the nutrition, Elwes man; but I’m surprised to see a logician writing about experimental physics…surely you’re not succumbing to popularism?!

    More to the point: a perpetual irritation of mine is that mathematical research is shockingly underfunded, with very real and serious negative consequences worldwide. If just 0.1% of CERN’s budget were spent on extra support for mathematicians, this would produce benefits comparable in size to all these particle accelerators (in my opinion). When are mathematicians going to get a fair deal? Research seems to be a zero-sum game in which the “trendy” physicists have managed to fool governments and funding agencies around the world into believing that their research is more important than it really is. (Don’t get me wrong; I DO think it’s quite important – just massively overrated, rather like the England football team unfortunately).

    Also, even if some readers do not care about mathematics, I think PHYSICS is suffering in certain other areas also…CERN is taking far more than its fair share of funding I believe. Of course, you can’t really blame them for taking as much as they can get – if they didn’t get it, it’d probably only go towards building nuclear submarines or similar instead. Grrr…

  2. I guess time will tell if it’s overrated or not…

    The simple fact is that to do things like investigate high-energy particle-collisions, or go into space, you do need very serious bits of kit indeed, and these things are enormously expensive. I’m glad the choice has been made to do them rather than not do them.

    But actually, I think you’re wrong – I don’t think research-funding is a zero-sum game. And as well as being valuable research in its own right, there two other reasons to support these sort of projects:

    (i) It’s good for the public profile of science. Spectacular machines making dramatic discoveries will attract public interest, further funding, and future researchers to the whole of science, in a way that dry, technical research on Hardy Spaces could never do, no matter how worthwhile it is.

    (ii) The challenge of creating these sort of machines involves a range of technological advances. So the process – as well as the end result – is valuable. Have a look at the technology that NASA produced originally for space exploration, which have subsequently found other uses.

    …but none of that’s not to say that pure maths shouldn’t get more money of course.

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