[Taxacom] Economist leader addressed to taxonomists: open access
agosti at amnh.org
Fri May 18 18:34:09 CDT 2007
Here a note of optimism from another important newspaper, the International
Herald Tribune - so may be we should rather act as if we are part of with
what they conclude... why not replace CERN with the GITR -Global Institute
for Taxonomic Research - in which we act as one large cyberbased virtual
research institution with shared resources, programs and a main access point
for the 'public'
The fate of CERN and particle physics also means, that not only we are
struggling, but colleagues with much more funding...
A collision course for physics
Published: May 17, 2007
Excitement is building among high-energy physicists as construction in
Europe of a huge new particle accelerator nears completion, with the first
experiments scheduled for next year. It will be the purest exercise of pure
science, with researchers spending billions of dollars pursuing knowledge
with no practical use, but that could add to our understanding of the
universe's fundamental constituents.
Practical or not, a lot is riding on the outcome, including whether
high-energy physics vaults to new levels or falls flat on its face, whether
some highly mystical theories will gain at least a smidgen of evidence, and
whether Europe will forge far ahead in a field from which the United States
began retreating for cost reasons more than a decade ago.
The new machine, called the Large Hadron Collider, is being built in a
17-mile circular tunnel straddling the border between Switzerland and
France. It will send protons whizzing in opposite directions around the
ring, and sophisticated detectors will measure what happens when some
collide. The United States started building an even more powerful machine,
the Superconducting Supercollider, in a 54-mile ring tunnel in Texas, but
Congress axed that project in 1993 for budget savings.
What researchers hope to learn with the new accelerator was described by
Dennis Overbye in Science Times. At the very least, they hope to detect
evidence of the elusive Higgs boson, a long-predicted particle that is
believed to impart mass to other particles. They will also be looking for
new forms of matter and for evidence of supersymmetry, a notion that could
unite all forces of nature into a unified theory. A long shot would be
evidence of new dimensions or tiny black holes.
There is always the possibility that the collider will find little of
scientific interest. In that case, high-energy physics would be at an
impasse, and physicists might have to accept what some have already
declared: that the 20th century was the Age of Physics, while the 21st,
spurred by the mapping of the human genome, will be the Age of Biology.
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