Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Austria To Pull Out of CERN

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the matter-of-concern dept.

Government 168

andre.david notes an AFP report that Austria has announced its intention to withdraw from CERN, citing budget concerns, adding: "Austrian particle physicists are not happy with this. From HEPHY, the Austrian Institute for High Energy Physics: 'All of a surprise Johannes Hahn... announced that he wants to terminate the Austrian membership at CERN... This [would] affect spin-off projects like the planned cancer treatment center MedAustron... which is dependent on collaborating with CERN... Strangely enough this intention just arrives at a time where scientists are about to harvest the fruits of LHC...' Will other countries follow suit?" "Austria is pulling out of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Science Minister Johannes Hahn announced Thursday, citing budget concerns. The €20M ($26.9M) yearly membership in CERN... makes up 70 percent of the money available in Austria for participation in international institutes and could be better used to fund other European projects, he said. Hahn said he hoped Austria could find 'a new kind of cooperation' with CERN and described Vienna's withdrawal from the project as a 'pause,' noting that some 30 states were already working together with the Geneva-based centre without being members. The newly-available funds will now allow Austria to take part in new European projects, boost its participation in old ones as well as help the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the country's main organization funding research."

cancel ×

168 comments

RSS? (-1, Offtopic)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876393)

What the hell, Slashdot? My front page is an RSS feed now?

Re:RSS? (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876469)

SLASHDOT TO PULL OUT OF HTML

Does slashdot not have testing servers, or what? Hey guys, you shouldn't make changes to live servers until you test them first...

OTOH, perhaps this is their response to everyone's bitching about the front page. Don't like the way slashdot looks? Write your own interface, bitches.

Re:RSS? (2, Funny)

tpgp (48001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876631)

Does slashdot not have testing servers, or what?

Testing is for wimps. Real men upload their data to an...

Austria's budget (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876769)

They are going to put the money into building everyone secret underground rooms.

Re:Austria's budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876863)

LOL.

Re:RSS? (0, Offtopic)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876497)

Sadly enough, I think I prefer it to the other HTML changes that Slashdot has made...

Re:RSS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876843)

WHAT THE FUCK, slashdot? Now I can't see how many comments are on each story? What's the good overriding reason why you just couldn't possibly stand to have the number of comments available anymore? How am I supposed to know which ones to troll with "fr0sty p1ss" now?

If you want to improve something, make it so that loading the Javascript necessary to post doesn't take so goddamned long. I seriously doubt it takes your Web servers that long to send me a few kilobytes of Javascript and this is a fast machine. You know why they had to call it Javascript? Because only Java is anywhere near as slow for basic things so they had something in common.

That's ok... (4, Funny)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876403)

I guess that means more particles for the rest of us!

Re:That's ok... (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876475)

This [would] affect spin-off projects like the planned cancer treatment center MedAustron... which is dependent on collaborating with CERN...

I guess that means more particles for the rest of us!

In light of the above, I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Re:That's ok... (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876689)

Unless they all get smashed first.

Re:That's ok... (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876915)

Maybe Austria just realized it was one big "Will it blend?"-ripoff?

Seriously though, it's a shame people can be so shortsighted. It really saddens me when they fail to see how fundamental science is what brings us new knowledge and technologies. It's not because the benefits are far out in the future, that they aren't real..

Re:That's ok... (2, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877165)

And maybe Austria has the sense to stay within budgets? Yeah, I want to see science funded well. However, I don't want to see nations spending themselves into oblivion. My country has spent the last eight years spending recklessly, and isn't showing signs of stopping. Right now, my country pays enough on the interest of its debt to pay for a cern project EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

Think about that for a minute. It boggles my mind. But debt kills. Austria dropping cern is sad. But if it is for balancing a budget in a rough time, then so be it.

Re:That's ok... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877933)

Most of the comments here are assuming this represents a reduction in spending on science by Austria. But the last sentence of the blurb says "The newly-available funds will now allow Austria to take part in new European projects, boost its participation in old ones as well as help the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the country's main organization funding research." Are they actually reducing science spending at all, or just re-allocating from one project to others with more perceived bang for the buck? That happens all the time in science. IMHO drawing a salary to conduct research I find interesting is a privilege that can't be extended to everybody, so it has to be earned and continually re-established by competing with others who want the money for their ideas.

Re:That's ok... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878629)

IMHO drawing a salary to conduct research I find interesting is a privilege that can't be extended to everybody, so it has to be earned and continually re-established by competing with others who want the money for their ideas.

So some guy spends a decade or two of his life getting the specialized training necessary to be scientist and then he gets out-competed by someone else and ends up on food stamps working minimum wage at McDonalds?

You don't just wake up one morning and decide you're going to quit your job as a mailman and go lead a research project at CERN - and then when the project gets canceled go back to your job as a mailman. To work at CERN (as a scientific researcher) you've got to plan years in advance and spend years and years studying all kinds of specialized topics.

The idea that it's OK for politicians to capriciously reallocate funding from year to year ignores the very real human cost. And it discourages people from becoming scientists. Why spend years of your life preparing for a specialized career if some politician may arbitrarily cancel it at the last minute.

What I would like to see is more of an open source model of scientific research - in that the government finds some motivated and educated people and pays them enough to live comfortably but simply. These people could then attach themselves to whatever projects seemed promising or drift away from whatever projects seemed to be stalled without all kinds of bureaucratic hassles from the politicians. If they thought CERN was promising they could work at CERN but, if not, they attach themselves to other projects.

There would still be mechanisms for accountability but it would be more about good faith effort than about politicians micromanaging science (that they know little about). Basically, you'd create positions like Einstein had at Princeton Institute for Advanced Study but for average working scientists rather than just for the super stars.

Re:That's ok... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879603)

So some guy spends a decade or two of his life getting the specialized training necessary to be scientist and then he gets out-competed by someone else and ends up on food stamps working minimum wage at McDonalds?

Normally if somebody is not going to cut it, they should get weeded out during the educational process. If not, they usually still end up doing science, but in a supporting role with less discretion than the stars. Actually all researchers start that way, then some move up more quickly than others.

You don't just wake up one morning and decide you're going to quit your job as a mailman and go lead a research project at CERN - and then when the project gets canceled go back to your job as a mailman. To work at CERN (as a scientific researcher) you've got to plan years in advance and spend years and years studying all kinds of specialized topics. The idea that it's OK for politicians to capriciously reallocate funding from year to year ignores the very real human cost. And it discourages people from becoming scientists. Why spend years of your life preparing for a specialized career if some politician may arbitrarily cancel it at the last minute.

A reduction in funding at CERN doesn't necessarily mean scientists are becoming burger flippers. It may mean that some of them have to move onto other projects at places other than CERN, executing the spending priorities of whoever has decision-making authority. Hopefully those decision-makers are accomplished scientists with a broader vision rather than just "some politician." Though, at a very high level, the stewards of tax money are politicans so they do make general decisions about the course of taxpayer-supported science, e.g. send money to DoD vs. NSF, or NIH, or NASA.

What I would like to see is more of an open source model of scientific research - in that the government finds some motivated and educated people and pays them enough to live comfortably but simply. These people could then attach themselves to whatever projects seemed promising or drift away from whatever projects seemed to be stalled without all kinds of bureaucratic hassles from the politicians. If they thought CERN was promising they could work at CERN but, if not, they attach themselves to other projects.

That's basically what "tenure" means. Of course, the competition to obtain tenure at research universities is fierce - it's a privileged position.

There would still be mechanisms for accountability but it would be more about good faith effort than about politicians micromanaging science (that they know little about). Basically, you'd create positions like Einstein had at Princeton Institute for Advanced Study but for average working scientists rather than just for the super stars.

Even if you doubled the number of such positions, the field of applications would soon double as well, and you'd be back to selecting the stars again. Getting paid to follow your curiosity is simply too desirable a position to be available to just anybody who wants it.

Re:That's ok... (1)

coffeechica (948145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879413)

The papers here in Austria say that according to the minister of science/research, part of the funds will be allocated, but not necessarily all of them. They aren't saying anything about specific new projects yet, only that it frees up 20 million Euros a year.

Re:That's ok... (3, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877175)

Fundamental science is good, but the LHC is a huge and expensive project. By my calculations, they have about $38 million annually to spend on projects of this nature. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost of the LHC, so the international community is unlikely to really feel a large effect.

That $27 million they have to spend now could be put to much better use domestically or on smaller scale projects.

Re:That's ok... (1)

andre.david (1373517) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879917)

That $27 million they have to spend now could be put to much better use domestically or on smaller scale projects.

Without the member state contributions, CERN cannot operate. Following the logic above all member states should invest domestically...

Re:That's ok... (1)

coastwalker (307620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877193)

Looks like the Austrian school of economics is living up to its reputation of I'm all right jack so screw you and your joint project for the sake of humanity. How can you take an economic system seriously when it comes from this bunch of loons? Its not so much the lack of enthusiasm for fundamental science that gets up my nose as they signed up in the first place, its the going back on your word and shafting your friends because you can save a few bucks mentality. Seriously though isnt Austria one of the most venal international partners in the first world?

Re:That's ok... (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879899)

There are little or no subscribers of the so called "Austrian school of economics" left here in Austria. Without the nearby threat of communism, the reality of their ridiculous and shrill assertions became blatantly obvious... So we decided they were all kooks.

Re:That's ok... (2, Interesting)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879123)

Austria isn't decreasing it's science budget, just reallocating it. Frankly, it seems very unlikely to me that CERN will produce as valuable scientific results as that same money spread over many smaller projects could, so i think Austria might have the right idea.

Re:That's ok... (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877023)

I know, right?

I mean, whoop-de-doo, Austria's all "put another shrimp on the barbie, mate" and "crikey! we've got killer spiders mate" and "go root yerself, we're pulling out of CERN!".

The rest of the nations participating in CERN will be just fine without them.

Re:That's ok... (0)

key.aaron (1422339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877633)

I'm not sure if you are joking of if this is just plain /facepalm.

Re:That's ok... (0)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877671)

I guess if they're not important enough for you to know that they're not Australia, then how important can they be to an international project like CERN, right?

God I hope you were trying to be funny... but I'm afraid you weren't.

Re:That's ok... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878975)

wooooosh

Re:That's ok... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879919)

You must be confusing Austria with Australia ^)

Re:That's ok... (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877103)

Then - no free ticket to Austria for possible positive outcome of using the CERN accelerator then.

This is expensive business, but it's also bleeding edge research and that means that it's possible that something completely new will come out of this research.

By understanding the building stones of the universe you may also find the path to cheap energy or other things that we can't imagine.

Re:That's ok... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878395)

Oh sure, Austria dumps a worthwhile membership in CERN, while the US continues to fund that third-world Wally World called the United Nations.

Can't we cite "budget concerns" too?

Whole lot of pulling out going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876441)

Palin pulls out of CPAC [cnn.com]

Levi not pulling out of Briston Palin, however

not surprised (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876461)

There is no biology here, so no diseases to cure so in the minds of the ignorant it is wasted money. I'm not surprised but definitely annoyed.

Science for science sake is worth while no matter the cost or the expect benefit. The US stimulated its economy by a factor of 10 more then what it put into landing on the moon. One of people who help the British economy the most was a guy named Michel Faraday who thought his discovery of electrical induction was neat but useless. And that isn't even touch on things we take for granted every day, i.e. transiters and LCDs to name only two.

Re:not surprised (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876911)

The US stimulated its economy by a factor of 10 more then what it put into landing on the moon.

It's been difficult to really calculate such, especially compared to alternatives such as *direct* funding of technology research. Its value as inspiration, though, may justify it. It became an icon of "can do".

Reminds me of a conversation we had at work once:

PHB: "If we can put man on the moon, then you can certainly get project X up and running!"

Techie: "But Apollo had a hundred billion to spend; we don't even have a cub-scout model rocket budget."

PHB: Yeah, and you are about as effective as a cub-scout.

Techie: Cub-scout pay, cub-scout results.
   

Re:not surprised (4, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877243)

It's been difficult to really calculate such, especially compared to alternatives such as *direct* funding of technology research.

Direct funding of directionless research has a pretty terrible record by any metric you can think of. NASA spent about $25B total on the Apollo project, which yielded numerous useful spinoff technologies and companies, inspired countless numbers of engineering and science students, and put men on the moon. Microsoft spends roughly [seattlepi.com] $6-$7B per year on their in-house research budget, which has yielded, well, let's see, Microsoft Bob(tm) and Songsmith.

Admittedly I'm comparing 1960s dollars with current dollars, but still... Bill, just give the money to NASA, for Chrissake.

Even when you're talking about pie-in-the-sky "pure research," people don't tend to appreciate the amount of tangible technology that comes out of those efforts. If you need to do some leading-edge photonic RF work, the papers you read are from NRAO. If you're working on next-gen MRI machines, you're probably interested in superconducting magnet tech developed for accelerators. There are any number of other cases where things you use every day came from applications you wouldn't have cared about at the time.

Re:not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879077)

Admittedly I'm comparing 1960s dollars with current dollars, but still...

Do you realize how big the difference is? Based on this calculator [bls.gov] , 25 billion dollars in 1960 has the same buying power as 180 billion dollars in 2009...

Re:not surprised (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879581)

Sigh. Yes, which is why I said as much.

Same order of magnitude, though; the point stands.

Re:not surprised (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879783)

I don't know, my Cub Scout years were some of the most productive of my life.

Easy to say, not to do (4, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877045)

"Science for science sake is worth while no matter the cost or the expect benefit."

That's nice and all, and true, but it still ignores fiscal realities. This kind of research is expensive, and there's an economic slump going on right now. What should the Austrian government cancel to pay for this research? Roads? Schools?

Its easy to tell them to keep up the good work, when you're not footing the bill.

Re:Easy to say, not to do (1)

Anonymatt (1272506) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877369)

Yeah, how many times have I heard someone talk about what a grand quest it is to see small stuff or figure more about the beginning of the universe and how justifiable and noble that type of curiosity is--but what we're really talking about is SOMEONE ELSE'S curiosity. I don't give a hoot. I'm really curious about some girl in my office, "I wonder if she's into me?" No one would spend ten dollars of tax money to satisfy my curiosity about how a nice Thai lunch would go if I took her out. I mean, if it worked out, maybe we could make BABIES. Maybe that baby would turn into some kind of genius and invent velcro 2.0. Maybe! Let's find out! I'm curious!

Re:Easy to say, not to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878967)

How many times have I heard some myopic retard give his opinion of CERN's uselessness over the world wide web [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Easy to say, not to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879617)

Spoken like a true American! Concerned about nothing but sex, food, babies and velcro.

Re:Easy to say, not to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27877675)

This kind of research is expensive, and there's an economic slump going on right now. What should the Austrian government cancel to pay for this research? Roads? Schools?

If I was supreme dictator I'd be canceling the CEO incentive bonuses.

Failing that, and being something of a Keynesian, I'd like to see the government save up a bit of a surplus during times of economic growth to be used to cushion the blow during economic downturns. That is, I wouldn't want to see the government canceling anything - because anything that gets canceled means putting more people out of work.

Now, if we are going to be canceling stuff, the question is what. In the short term we can do without a lot of stuff. We don't need scientific research. We also don't need much in the way of road maintenance (a few extra potholes are OK). We could also probably cut a lot of education since most people already have the education they need. We could also cut a lot of military projects. Certainly the military research could be cut - but we've also got a lot of military personal sitting around idle - we could cut them as well. Basically, if you're not in active combat, you're fired. We could also cut military pensions down to the poverty level - and we could make veterans buy their own health insurance.

But now you say, "Wait a minute, these veterans have served their country, they deserve their pensions, etc." Thing is, pretty much everyone serves their country in one way or another. We could play the "What if there was no military?" game but we could play that game with pretty much any profession: "What if there were no garbage collectors?" - Oh, the horror of mounds of disease ridden garbage collecting in the streets.

And then there's the problems of expectations: if you do start firing people or cutting their compensation, etc. then you're going to have a harder time attracting people to that career in the future. If the military gets crapped on then kids won't choose a career in the military but if scientists get crapped on then kids won't choose a career in science.

I agree that in the long term spending needs to match revenue but I don't agree that it's obvious what to cut and what not to cut.

Re:Easy to say, not to do (2, Interesting)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878341)

If I was supreme dictator I'd be canceling the CEO incentive bonuses.

You mean like Someone, who has the capability of firing the CEOs of major corporations, and cancelling the contractual pay of their employees even after Congress had previously Ok'd it. You could also force investors to settle for pennies on the dollar or face severe sanctions from the government, while turning the company over to his union boss friends without any investment at all. And the press would adore you for it.

Re:Easy to say, not to do (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877731)

This kind of research is expensive, and there's an economic slump going on right now. What should the Austrian government cancel to pay for this research? Roads? Schools?

The other alternative is to simply not balance the budget when the economy is in a slump, and help it recover faster with deficit spending, like what the US is doing. It's a reasonable plan, except that we never seem to get around to paying it back when the economy is good...

Re:Easy to say, not to do (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878163)

How about finding a way to slash bureaucracy for a change? I'll bet (but I don't know) that's one of the biggest drains on any modern government's budget: Bureaucrats who want to entrench themselves so they can get paid forever.

Re:Easy to say, not to do (0, Troll)

drsquare (530038) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878269)

What should the Austrian government cancel to pay for this research? Roads? Schools?

I wouldn't object if they cancelled the Austrian School.

Re:not surprised (2, Insightful)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877259)

Science for science sake is worth while no matter the cost or the expect benefit.

Fortunately, it sounds like Austria plans to take this money (70% of its international science budget) and put it towards multiple other projects. It's still going to be going toward science, just different science.

Re:not surprised (1)

mmmscience (1450939) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877337)

There is no biology here, so no diseases to cure so in the minds of the ignorant it is wasted money. I'm not surprised but definitely annoyed.

I think it has less to do with the fact that CERN isn't tied to a biomedical center and more to do with the fact that so much money has been put into a project that has yet to run a real experiment, let alone yield real results. Yes, biomedical sciences are granted an exuberant amount of money every year, but that field is also producing results. That's the nature of science: Producing results = more grant money. When CERN launches again in the fall and starts churning out data, it too can access more funds once again. The old adage remains true: publish or perish.

Trend? (2, Funny)

Mendoksou (1480261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876479)

Is this the start of a trend due to economically troubled times? This conCERNs me.

Bad puns aside, I guess with an economy like this, CERN should expect some resistance. ;)
http://press.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases2008/PR14.08E.html

Re:Trend? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876797)

I can see them saying they'd cut back during recession, but to *completely* pull out could be problematic from a diplomatic perspective. Do what they do at my company: say "check will be a little late this time", and drag feet.

Re:Trend? (1)

andre.david (1373517) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877395)

I guess with an economy like this, CERN should expect some resistance. ;)

But the LHC is superconducting! No resistance :D

Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876481)

they want to use their cellars for other things.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876725)

I think neutrino detection could certainly benefit from the cash saved from pulling out of CERN

Rhythm Method? (0, Redundant)

TehCable (1351775) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876589)

Austria cited CERN's recent decision to go off the pill as its primary reason for pulling out, but says they are still not willing to go back to using condoms.

Obvious Economics of Small Intellects (OESI) ... (5, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876625)

Bank rescue ~90-billion-Euro: big worthy [topnews.in] chunk

CERN Euro 20M: too small a particle to care for

As we can learn, big mountains do not help much to gain perspective.

CC.

They didn't fly under the cost radar . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876649)

CERN gave themselves way too much publicity, about how advanced and expensive the LHC is. And then it fizzled out after all the hype. (Apologies to the CERN folks, but this is how a lot of government folks will see it.)

Given the current economic conditions, politicians are looking to cut costs, to spend on stimulus crap. And they are looking for big stuff, not school lunch program chump-change.

Anyone remember the US's "Superconducting Supercollider?" Politicians shit-canned it. With so many "supers" in the name, politicians were sure to think it was expensive.

A better name would have been "Little tiny subatomic bit of dust thingie (real cheap!)." Then the cost cutters would not have gone after it.

Re:They didn't fly under the cost radar . . . (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876765)

Anyone remember the US's "Superconducting Supercollider?" Politicians [canned] it. With so many "supers" in the name, politicians were sure to think it was expensive. A better name would have been "Little tiny subatomic bit of dust thingie (real cheap!)." Then the cost cutters would not have gone after it.

How about Pork-A-Tron?
   

*coff* (3, Insightful)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876685)

> Strangely enough this intention just arrives at a time where scientists are about to harvest the fruits of LHC.

Uhhh, which are what, exactly? The mass of the Higgs? Yeah, that's worth 16 billion.

Can anyone name a single discovery in HEP in the last 25 years that has led to a practical improvement of anything whatsoever? The only thing HEP has generated is paper.

Still waiting for my top-quark amplifier...

> Science for science sake is worth while no matter the cost or the expect benefit

I call BS. Demonstration please, using the example above.

> The US stimulated its economy by a factor of 10 more then what it put into landing on the moon

No it didn't. If you look at this claim, made by NASA of course, the reality of it comes crashing down. They include things that had absolutely nothing to do with the space missions, including Tang and Velcro. The primary direct outcome was engineering

> transiters and LCDs to name only two

Transist_o_rs were invented as part of a very focused and practical development program at Bell Labs, which you can read about in "Crystal Fire". The key advance was discovered by accident. They had to develop the theory of how they worked as part of the program.

LCDs were developed over a period stretching about 100 years, all of it experimental up to the 1960s, when it became a major practical development effort. There's very little pure science involved. The wiki article covers it fairly well.

Don't get me wrong, there's been a lot of purely theoretical research that makes it into everyday life. Quantum is a good example. But in the VAST majority of cases the science was discovered as a part of basic research and had to wait on the theory. There's many, many products in daily use today that we still have no idea how they work.

Maury

Re:*coff* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876873)

Take your realism and go home. People like you are not appreciated here.

Re:*coff* (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876897)

Uhhh, which are what, exactly? The mass of the Higgs? Yeah, that's worth 16 billion.

Can anyone name a single discovery in HEP in the last 25 years that has led to a practical improvement of anything whatsoever? The only thing HEP has generated is paper.

Price of everything/value of nothing.

Re:*coff* (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876923)

Can anyone name a single discovery in HEP in the last 25 years that has led to a practical improvement of anything whatsoever? The only thing HEP has generated is paper.

Why so short-sighted? Why is it so important that something pay off tangibly within 25 years? Some of the great strides in medication today are applications of HEP-ph of the 30s and 50s that we continue to refine. Who knows what the future holds?

That's the great thing about knowledge. Sometimes the quest for knowledge is the most important part; sometimes the Answers are the important part; sometimes incidental discoveries are the most important part. But we'll never know unless we go for it.

Re:*coff* (2, Interesting)

*coughs loudly* (301749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877853)

"Why so short-sighted? Why is it so important that something pay off tangibly within 25 years? Some of the great strides in medication today are applications of HEP-ph of the 30s and 50s that we continue to refine. Who knows what the future holds?"

Because the money in the here and now is finite, and decisions about allocating it need to be made with that in mind. E.g, not all states in the US fund deep brain stimulation [mcw.edu] treatment for Parkinson's disease; if the US federal money spent on nuclear research were distributed to the states for the sake of DBS, then thousands of people and their families would have a hugely-improved quality of life for months on end, something that is preferable, for most people, to years of research without any significant advance.

Re:*coff* (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878549)

And yet a lot of practical research stands on the shoulders of the non-practical research that has come before.

It shows remarkable short-sightedness to publically fund only here-and-now practical applications, especially since practical applications are exactly where private industry has an incentive to pay for research.

Re:*coff* (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878851)

So forget about all those billions upon billions of people in the future that could have dramatically improved quality of life, we need to worry about the few thousand alive here and now? Do you think the same way about finances? Forget the bills I have to pay in 6 months, I'm buying this $100,000 television that will make ME happy NOW.

The value of $1 in basic research is infinitely returned in the future, as there will be exponential growth in the human population. That is assuming, of course, that we invest the time and resources to do the research such that our descendants can continue to grow and thrive. If we don't? We'll, then we will probably all be wiped out in a billion years.

Re:*coff* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879469)

So forget about all those billions upon billions of people in the future that could have dramatically improved quality of life, we need to worry about the few thousand alive here and now? Do you think the same way about finances? Forget the bills I have to pay in 6 months, I'm buying this $100,000 television that will make ME happy NOW.

You are doing comparison the wrong way. The GP thinks that we should spend now what we need to and then, if we have money left, spend on what might potentially be good in the future. Your comparison has "We know that there will be large bills in 6 months and we know that you could now spend a lot for something really nice" but the real situation is "We know that there are currently a lot of things that desperately need money and we think that something good might come up at some point if we spend enough money on it instead."

So more appropriate comparison would be "Do you want to pay your bills now or not pay them in order to save money just in case that something nice and worth buying will come up.". And I think that paying bills first and saving what's left for the future is a better alternative.

Re:*coff* (5, Informative)

key.aaron (1422339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876925)

> Can anyone name a single discovery in HEP in the last 25 years that has led to a practical improvement of anything whatsoever? The only thing HEP has generated is paper.

That's an easy one: The particle accelerators developed for research in HEP have directly resulted in the accelerators used in hospitals for radiation therapy.

Re:*coff* (0)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878177)

The particle accelerators developed for research in HEP

How expensive were those other other particle accelerators, compared to CERN?

Doing fundamental science is good, but doing a really uber-over-budget really-frickin-expensive search for the God Particle using my money is physics mental masturbation, when they are a jillion other more worthwhile areas of basic research that could/should be funded.

For example, how many Earth-exploring satellites and research ships trolling the oceans taking measurements to improve the data fed into climate-change models could have been funded instead of pouring it into the LHC?

Re:*coff* (3, Insightful)

key.aaron (1422339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878385)

Thing is the point of the LHC isn't really to find the Higgs boson (the God particle name really is oversensationalized). For most physicists the existence of the Higgs boson is a foregone conclusion. When they see the experimental proof it will be little more than a hmm, well looky there, what we knew all along is true.

The true purpose of the LHC is to uncover the unknown by probing energy ranges that have never been seen before. The LHC will payoff when they find a result that they have no idea how to explain which will push for new physics.

All of these things may or may not have a direct practical application. When they started building accelerators they had no clue that it would later be used for cancer treatments. Does that mean that just because practical benefit is not immediately obvious that pushing the boundaries of experimentation is a waste of money?

I think not.

Disclaimer: IAAP (in training, no Ph.D. yet) and have studied with a professor that is directly involved in the LHC.

Re:*coff* (0)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878465)

Does that mean that just because practical benefit is not immediately obvious that pushing the boundaries of experimentation is a waste of money?

I think not.

It does when we're 10 trillion dollars in debt...

Re:*coff* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879197)

And screw the quadrillion dollar technologies that will probably emerge as a consequence of basic science research.

Re:*coff* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878647)

There must be some fancy latin term for this fallacy.

Yes, if your choice is between a) funding LHC and doing *no* other research at all and b) doing immediately practical work and ignoring LHC, b) is probably the better choice.

But realistically, we have a choice between a) spending a few percent extra on more immediately practical work or b) having speculative stuff like LHC at a small reduction in funding for other things.

Ignoring basic research is short sighted, to say the least. All the really big leaps have come from unexpected directions, not doing the obvious work to improve existing technology or understanding.

Re:*coff* (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879285)

By following b) you're looking towards the stagnation of future technologies. b) is good for the short term only. Limiting fundamental research always end up costing a lot more in the long term.

Re:*coff* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879529)

I'm not sure we're disagreeing here.

Most of the arguments on the lines of "LHC is a waste of money, we should be spending the money on medical research etc." seem to paint it as an either/or, when it isn't.

Oh, and to the original poster: 25 years? That's one hell of a short timescale. How long did it take from the first serious investigations into electricity and magnetism until the first practical radio?

Re:*coff* (5, Informative)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876969)

You never know what comes out of these projects. I vaguely remember this guy from CERN in 1990 playing with two computers.

Re:*coff* (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878397)

I think I must have gotten one of these. Ended tossing it out because of all the corrosion and the disguisting mess inside. I thought it was mice, but with this revelation...

Re:*coff* (1, Troll)

eurowolf007 (1427809) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879941)

This guy has a name: Al Gore, so please give credit where it is due ;)

Re:*coff* (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876991)

[Transistors] were invented as part of a very focused and practical development program at Bell Labs, which you can read about in "Crystal Fire". The key advance was discovered by accident.

Perhaps the gov't should then fund accidents . . . . . . oh wait, nevermind (Katrina, Iraq, Fanny Mae, Shuttle foam ...)

Re:*coff* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876993)

wow, talk about idiocy.
First you say how ridiculous the statement that science always has value is then turn around and prove the point by pointing out all the accidents that have developed from science. And then even state "There's many, many products in daily use today that we still have no idea how they work."
If you want to limit things to just theory, which seems to be what you are applying, then I have to agree but I believe the GP was referring to science in a general term and not just mucking with mathematics to explain something.

From working in the field, the most effective use of understanding problems comes from both experimental and theoretical work. Engineering is just a watered down form.

Oh and just to prove that even the LHC may have a use, CERN was instrumental in the development of the world wide web. Every heard of Tim Berners-Lee? And since you seem only focused on the engineering aspect, what advances will CERN and the LHC help push forward? These things are called spin-offs, much like velro and tang from NASA.

So to summarize, expenditure in science will eventually pay off, it just may take a couple of decades and probably not in the way you expect.

Re:*coff* (3, Insightful)

habig (12787) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877433)

Can anyone name a single discovery in HEP in the last 25 years that has led to a practical improvement of anything whatsoever? The only thing HEP has generated is paper.

Still waiting for my top-quark amplifier...

25 years is pretty short-term here. How long was it after Franklin defining charge and Thomson discovering electrons was it before you got your run-of-the-mill electron-based amplifier? And lightning bolts were much more obviously potentially practical things to be investigating.

Will ignore the obvious comment that without HEP in general and CERN in particular we wouldn't be writing this in html, as that was pretty tangential to the whole process :)

Re:*coff* (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878459)

Not specifically HEP but how about MRI and PET scans used in both medicine, medical research and materials research.

Re:*coff* (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878563)

Can anyone name a single discovery in HEP in the last 25 years that has led to a practical improvement of anything whatsoever? The only thing HEP has generated is paper.

And the web. Nothing directly to do with HEP, but it was necessary as a way of distributing data from so many different computers. Other people had worked on proprietary toys (remember Gopher) but TBL's idea succeeded because it was open, developed at a public research institute and not protected.

Oh and all those expensive toys that the physicists use, they are carefully spread out amongst the contributing countries.

Re:*coff* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878677)

the web? (html)

Re:*coff* (3, Insightful)

smaddox (928261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878709)

Show me "many, many products in daily use today that we still have no idea how they work" and I will show you many, many engineers that, in order to design that product, consulted thousands of research papers that were funded directly as basic research, or relied on the understanding brought by basic research. Just because you don't understand how something works doesn't mean there isn't someone out there who does.

Basic research is behind everything you enjoy in your modern life. Those accidents made during "very focused and practical development" would not have led to anything if basic research had not laid the foundation for understanding. Imagine trying to design transistors without knowing anything about atoms, electrons, and quantum mechanics. It would be impossible.

Just because you are too shortsighted to see the benefits of the LHC to future humanity doesn't mean they don't exist.

Re:*coff* (1)

ggraham412 (1492023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879431)

Pure science for the sake of itself is certainly a worthwhile goal. However, there is also science beyond HEP, and I think that is the point that the Austrian government is heeling to. A 25 year "dry spell" is a tough record to run on for any scientific endeavor. Some might even date this to the advent of the Standard Model in the early 70's, since many of the "discoveries" since then (Eg- WZ, bottom, top quark, etc) are just filling in the blank slots of that theory. There has been no paradigm shift.

(Arguably the only fresh discovery coming out of HEP in the last 25 years is the discovery that neutrinos have mass. However, even this amounts to measurement of a free parameter in the standard model and, though it leads to beautiful quantum effects like neutrino oscillation, these effects are well known from other sectors like the K and the B.)

Until now, I think HEP has basked in the glow of the remarkable mid-20th century advances in nuclear physics, eg- the atom bomb, atomic power, etc. With accelerator based experiments churning out discoveries and results that agree with Standard Model theory at "six 9's" precision, it may be time to declare the game over.

CYA (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876735)

They don't want to be blamed when the Galactic Sector Disaster Investigation Committee convenes to figure out what happened to the Orion Arm [wikipedia.org] of the Milky Way.

Always "about to harvest the fruits" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876775)

Just like any street thug that was killed was trying to turn their life around, any government project that's killed was just about to yield results.

Re:Always "about to harvest the fruits" (1)

Selfbain (624722) | more than 5 years ago | (#27876879)

Did they at least make a vague promise to call sometime?

Re:Always "about to harvest the fruits" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27876941)

Just like any street thug that was killed was trying to turn their life around, any government project that's killed was just about to yield results.

Sure but what do niggers have to do with it?

Clearly for religious reasons (2, Funny)

sabre86 (730704) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877053)

Given Austria's religious makeup [wikipedia.org] , can we be surprised that they're pulling out?

Re:Clearly for religious reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878955)

I don't know if thats a joke about Catholics and birth control, or that religious people are commonly depicted as hating science.

Isolationism (2, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877115)

I guess this has nothing to do with the fact that right-wing parties in Austria have won a large share [nytimes.com] of votes in recent elections, furthering the already prevalent mindset of isolationism that is present in Austria.

It is a telling fact that the 20M budget for CERN is outstandingly tiny compared to the 3.4 billion EUR science budget Austria has.

Re:Isolationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27877347)

the 20M budget for CERN is outstandingly tiny compared

How does it compare to the politicians' 'expenses' budget?

Re:Isolationism (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877443)

I don't know. There is one thing I'll know, though, that if I'll be a politician, I'll have an expenses budget that includes blackjack and hookers. In fact, forget the blackjack.

Re:Isolationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27877761)

You're forgetting one thing...

A politician is a hooker. They both screw for money.

Re:Isolationism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27877975)

I guess this has nothing to do with the fact that right-wing parties in Austria have won a large share [nytimes.com] of votes in recent elections, furthering the already prevalent mindset of isolationism that is present in Austria.

It's unlikely for several reasons.

For one the right-wing parties are not in government. This decision to quit CERN has been made by the socialist party and the people's party (they are a party for the middle class).
Second Austria entered the ESO (European Southern Observatory) only a couple of months ago, so there doesn't seem to be a prevailent mindset of isolationism.

The reasons are most likely fiscal as the summary suggests. The majority (70%) of the research money for international projects goes to CERN. While the research done there is impressive for the money spent it seems to offer not much payback in terms of scientific archievement that can be directly linked to Austria, which would be important for the government in order to justify the project. In comparison to that the 3 Million for the ESO offer far better returns.

While the particle physicists will surely be hit hard by that decision it offers opportunities for cooperations in other areas. I am sure the scientists in other disciplines will be glad for that.
Another thing is that everything that has to do with nuclear research is highly suspect to the general population in austria, mainly due to misconceptions about the danger and pollution that nuclear power plants cause, which might also have influenced this decision.

Personally I would like austria to continue funding CERN, but the fiscal realities today don't really allow for the expension of the research budget that would be needed to do that and still diversify austrias involvement in international projects.

Sensationalism? (3, Informative)

hh4m (1549861) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877307)

Why are we overreacting over this? Austria will cease to be a member of CERN but it WILL continue cooperating with CERN as other non member countries do. Science is a relevant expense but the world is facing tough economic turbulence and some things need to be restructured. The benefits of science can be reaped by everyone at the end of the day, i mean i wasn't part of any of the great inventions yet i sit here benefiting from them.

Forward thinking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27877377)

By Alpine Kat there.

A tunnel that crosses through Switzerland and France,
Sixty nations contributed to scientific advance!

Whew! It still runs!

The real reason Austria pulled out (2, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 5 years ago | (#27877947)

After taking a public relations beating like this I'm surprised anyone is willing to fund the LHC.

Visit to the large hadron collider [comedycentral.com]

Ivory Tower's Crumbling! (1)

RCC42 (1457439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878047)

You ivory tower intellectuals must not lose touch with the world of industrial growth and hard currency. It is all very well and good to pursue these high-minded scientific theories, but research grants are expensive. You must justify your existence by providing not only knowledge but concrete and profitable applications as well.

It's OK (2, Insightful)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878613)

They need the money for more useful purposes, like bail out banks that will give bonuses to their executives, that will spend them in whores, champagne and expensive cars. This will get the economy running, again.

Who the fuck needs science and technology? Nothing like getting our priorities right.

too bad. (1)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879069)

don't let the quarks hit you in the ass on your way out the door Austria.

and isn't pulling out considered a poor method of birth control anyway?

Isn't this really about free-ridership? (1)

syd02 (595787) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879103)

They point out that 30 countries are working with CERN without being members, and it seems like they would like to be one of 31. I mean, why wouldn't they? Being a member sounds expensive.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...