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LHC costs money, is it worth it?


thewowsignal
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4 hours ago, thewowsignal said:

This thread is about the LHC costs of operation. The LHC project has no positive impact on my life so far. As far as

The LHC is a very good example of the above. Many people clearly see, that building even bigger particle smasher should happen sooner rather than later. This will create another level of financial and technological challenges. Do you think your capabilities are as big as the Universe?

You may not experience the positive impacts directly, but indirectly you may experience the benefits. And even if you never personally get to see the benefits, your decedents may do so. Would you not like to improve things for your children and grandchildren? 

Lets say that for example from the LHC a discovery made leads to improved technology, which then in turn leads to advancements in medicine or faming, which then leads to better treatment for disease or crop growth, which then leads to more lives saved, extended or less suffering, which improves the quality of life for the people who suffer. Would you agree that the money is well spent then? Would you not want that for your family? 

All the technology you rely on today is founded from scientific theories discovered/verified by experiment. Some of which was discovered hundreds/thousands of years prior to the technology becoming a reality. But the point is, non of it would have happened if it wasn't for scientific experiment, be that simple back yard stuff to the LHC and the ISS in orbit today. 

If you are so hung up on the costs of the LHC, where would you rather see the money spent?  

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6 hours ago, thewowsignal said:

The LHC is a very good example of the above. Many people clearly see, that building even bigger particle smasher should happen sooner rather than later. This will create another level of financial and technological challenges. Do you think your capabilities are as big as the Universe?

How can it be "a very good example of the above"? In "the above", you claim "the scientific world approaches the end of its capabilities", then go on to rant about building even bigger colliders and technological challenges. Your reasoning doesn't seem very sound. Your argument is weak. And you aren't dealing with other arguments like cost comparisons and knowledge gained. It's starting to sound like soapboxing.

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Ten years ago I asked the question about 'is the LHC worth it and whether it can solve the problems of particle physics'. Measuring smaller interactions at some insane energy levels is such a challenge, that the entire global GDP may not be enough to touch the 'bottom' of this Universe. I have no doubt that in ten years from now I will push my question to a higher level.

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7 hours ago, thewowsignal said:

The LHC project has no positive impact on my life so far.

Hate to break it to you but when the LHC was conceived and built, not once was there an agenda item at a meeting to discuss how to ensure the LHC would have a positive impact on thewowsignal. Neither the world nor the protons in the LHC revolve around you. The vast majority of the world's projects are more concerned with having an impact on humankind, rather than a specific egocentric person.

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Just now, thewowsignal said:

Ten years ago I asked the question about 'is the LHC worth it and whether it can solve the problems of particle physics'. Measuring smaller interactions at some insane energy levels is such a challenge, that the entire global GDP may not be enough to touch the 'bottom' of this Universe. I have no doubt that in ten years from now I will push my question to a higher level.

The god of the gaps argument in reverse, one day the money I spend will be worth spending...

 

death.jpg

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1 hour ago, zapatos said:

The vast majority of the world's projects are more concerned with having an impact on humankind, rather than a specific egocentric person.

 

Someday I will get a perfect slice of toast, thanks to the LHC.

Duh.

BTW, y'all....what is a philosophic chat about value doing in quantum theory forum?

Anyway, my serious response is: the value of pure research is that it's fun for curious apes like us to find things out.  Curious seven year olds take apart old clocks, curious twenty-plus year olds with doctorates take apart hadrons.

 

Edited by TheVat
hadrons, not hardons
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I remember sitting in on a review when I was a postdoc at TRIUMF and a (mid-level) government representative asked "What are you going to discover?" (probably in reference to the two-year funding window)

You don't know what will be discovered. You don't know what innovations people will come up with to do new experiments. What you do know is that this has always happened.

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15 minutes ago, swansont said:

I remember sitting in on a review when I was a postdoc at TRIUMF and a (mid-level) government representative asked "What are you going to discover?" (probably in reference to the two-year funding window)

You don't know what will be discovered. You don't know what innovations people will come up with to do new experiments. What you do know is that this has always happened.

This same kind of "Is it worth it?" BS used to revolve around the space programs, until it became blindingly obvious that the investments were returned manyfold in terms of practical knowledge and innovation. The same is true of the LHC, because most laypeople don't know enough about beam optics or particle physics to judge the value of an investment in experiments using such technologies. The average Joe is too ignorant of science to make a qualitative judgement, so they fall back on "It's expensive and I don't get it so it's WRONG!".

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43 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

This same kind of "Is it worth it?" BS used to revolve around the space programs, until it became blindingly obvious that the investments were returned manyfold in terms of practical knowledge and innovation. The same is true of the LHC, because most laypeople don't know enough about beam optics or particle physics to judge the value of an investment in experiments using such technologies. The average Joe is too ignorant of science to make a qualitative judgement, so they fall back on "It's expensive and I don't get it so it's WRONG!".

One example: particle accelerators in general are used in medicine - radionuclide production and radiation therapy

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It’s quite a shame that while passionate people coordinate enormous projects to help shrink the envelope of our misunderstandings and improve humanity for generations to come, so many similarly passionate people focus their efforts on attacking those projects with the seemingly sole aim being the expansion of said envelope. 

If maintaining and expanding the ignorance of others is required to support your worldview, then it’s time to change your worldview. 

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To be honest I'm a bit disappointed with most of the comments. A bit too much falling back on the old truisms about serendipitous spin offs IMO rather than providing examples of how LHC has been delivering them - because not all research projects do deliver them. thewowsignal might not be contributing much to the discussion but it is a good question.

Sure, the LHC's budget is small by the standards of the global economy but that is a disingenuous argument; it isn't a pot of money just waiting for uses to be put to, most of it - more than exists it seems, via borrowing and money creation - is spoken for and still leaves them short. There is no shortage of alternative uses where tangible benefits would ensue, that aren't getting enough. There are tradeoffs. Even the old "space programs delivered so much" thing - where truly massive amounts of government funding delivered some tangible technological advances with economic benefits - dodges the question of whether equivalent funding of other kinds of R&D would have done as much or more.

These aren't arguments that much impress me. As science research project budgets go "high end" things like the LHC are very high cost and it is a legitimate question whether they are good value - because there are no shortages of underfunded research projects, with that same innate potential for serendipitous spin offs.

Yes, pure research has delivered spin offs with useful applications and I am generally supportive of most kinds of R&D - and I'm pleased that some nations that can afford it do so. I think a complete understanding of the building blocks of matter, even without spin-offs does represent something intrinsically valuable - but not unquestioning support when it comes to how to get there. It isn't entirely clear to me that it is best achieved by this research project rather than a different one.

Edited by Ken Fabian
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17 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

To be honest I'm a bit disappointed with most of the comments. A bit too much falling back on the old truisms about serendipitous spin offs IMO rather than providing examples of how LHC has been delivering them - because not all research projects do deliver them. thewowsignal might not be contributing much to the discussion but it is a good question.

No, not all research projects deliver them. But that’s the nature of basic research. As my thesis adviser once noted, “If we knew the answer, it wouldn’t be research.”

So that’s not really a valid criticism, since, as I pointed out, you don’t know what will be discovered. You have to look at research in broader terms. There’s an argument to be made for funding diverse projects, but it’s not like the LHC is the only project being funded.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

To be honest I'm a bit disappointed with most of the comments. A bit too much falling back on the old truisms about serendipitous spin offs IMO rather than providing examples of how LHC has been delivering them - because not all research projects do deliver them. thewowsignal might not be contributing much to the discussion but it is a good question.

Do any of the arguments the comments are about sound like they're made in good faith? I think the comments are proper for the argument that "the scientific world approaches the end of its capabilities". The OP clearly isn't swayed by the already listed accomplishments. 

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https://fcc-cdr.web.cern.ch/webkit/press_material/Brochure_A5_SocioEconomic_EN.pdf
 

Economic Impact
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) research program at CERN generates approximately € 3.3 billion in net present value (investment and operating costs are deducted) for the Society in the period from 1993 to 2038.
In other words, the research infrastructure reimburses its costs with 15% surplus in the form of societal benefits. 

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11 hours ago, iNow said:

https://fcc-cdr.web.cern.ch/webkit/press_material/Brochure_A5_SocioEconomic_EN.pdf
 

Economic Impact
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) research program at CERN generates approximately € 3.3 billion in net present value (investment and operating costs are deducted) for the Society in the period from 1993 to 2038.
In other words, the research infrastructure reimburses its costs with 15% surplus in the form of societal benefits. 

Indeed, building a road/canal/railway is always a leap of faith; because it's not like we can't get there, without them...

15 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

To be honest I'm a bit disappointed with most of the comments. A bit too much falling back on the old truisms about serendipitous spin offs IMO rather than providing examples of how LHC has been delivering them - because not all research projects do deliver them. thewowsignal might not be contributing much to the discussion but it is a good question.

It's only serendipitous after it's built; a dragon's den of an opportunity... 🧐 

It reminds me of an old truism, "never gamble with more than you can afford to loose"...

Edited by dimreepr
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18 hours ago, iNow said:

https://fcc-cdr.web.cern.ch/webkit/press_material/Brochure_A5_SocioEconomic_EN.pdf
 

Economic Impact
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) research program at CERN generates approximately € 3.3 billion in net present value (investment and operating costs are deducted) for the Society in the period from 1993 to 2038.
In other words, the research infrastructure reimburses its costs with 15% surplus in the form of societal benefits. 

Thanks iNow - that answer does address the question.

I do admit to some lingering doubts about how these economic benefits are calculated - I suspect a rosy glasses/PR team point of view - but accept that it is delivering them. Comparisons to the economic value of funding other things instead will always be difficult and speculative but still is valid to ask.

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1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

Comparisons to the economic value of funding other things instead will always be difficult and speculative but still is valid to ask.

As far as I can tell, no one here is suggesting it is not a valid question to ask.

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2 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

Comparisons to the economic value of funding other things instead will always be difficult and speculative but still is valid to ask.

Sure, but one has to recognize that any individual might not see a direct benefit from any particular bit of spending - my tax money supports infrastructure on the other side of the country that I will never use - and that economic benefit isn’t the only metric to apply. e.g. GPS makes life better for a lot of people, even if it’s not putting money in their pocket. 

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https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0040162516000731

“In this paper we take the stakeholder view, describing and enumerating the value metric, while not considering the detailed processes required to optimise these. Some work was done to analyse the societal impact of the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC) upgrade of the LHC (Florio et al., 2016; Bastianin and Florio, 2018), predicting a larger than 90% chance of positive net economic benefit to society.”

“We conservatively estimate that there is around a 90% probability that benefits exceed costs, with an expected net present value of about 2.9 billion euro, not considering the unpredictable applications of scientific discovery.”

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52 minutes ago, thewowsignal said:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unsolved_problems_in_physics
The list is getting longer and longer. How many of those questions are you planning to eliminate in the 'near future'? Have a nice day.

What are you suggesting? That scientific research from here on is is a pointless pursuit because the more we learn the less we understand? 

No one is arguing that the cost of the LHC is not immense, certainly from a personal perspective its unimaginably expensive. However, we are offering comparisons and potential benefits that may justify that cost. It may also be true that we have to draw the line somewhere because the cost to advance experiments like these is unwarranted. In fact this is exactly what happens in science all over the world many projects never get off the ground due to benefit analysis. There are budgets to work within, and trust me, investors want returns for their buck, in some form or another. 

Me personally, I'm biased and admit being so. This is because of my passion for science especially the astrophysics and cosmology side of things and my interest in the quantum area is growing also. So I'm all in favour of spending money on research, space travel...  I get excited at the prospect of new discovery!   

Edited by Intoscience
spelling
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2 hours ago, thewowsignal said:

How many of those questions are you planning to eliminate in the 'near future'?

Future research will eliminate ten existing questions and introduce twenty new ones!  😁 😎 🙂

Edited by Lorentz Jr
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5 hours ago, thewowsignal said:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unsolved_problems_in_physics
The list is getting longer and longer. How many of those questions are you planning to eliminate in the 'near future'? Have a nice day.

You know what they say "if you build it, they will come." Have a nice game. 

What list? 

Don't touch the fire, because it hurts; define hurt and how would it's elimination benefit other's?

Or, that other question, how can we use fire? That won't hurt anyone?

 

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