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Scientists Waste Our Money - Supercomputers Come Up With Nothing - Again!


What is happening in science today? How many times are we going to read of the lauded success of finding nothing!!? The failure of some of the "greatest" simulations and experiments devised, are being sold to us as successful with the use of logical fallacies which no-one seems to question any more. The more I see this the more I suspect that many in academia are taught to "learn", rather than taught to "think". And we the sheeple are told everything's OK in Learningland. Take for example, the following headline from ScienceDaily March 3rd:

Supercomputer Confirms Standard Model Theory Of The Universe, Deepens Puzzle

This is so "in your face" that it's downright insulting. How can a supercomputer "confirm" a theory, and yet "deepen" the puzzle? This is not the only piece of oxymoronic writing in this article, in fact, it's full of it - in every sense...

ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2008) — Scientists have used a supercomputer to shed new light on one of the most important theories of physics, the Standard Model, which encapsulates understanding of all the material that makes up the universe. This 30-year-old theory explains all the known elementary particles and three of the four forces acting upon them - however, it excludes the force of gravity, which is its shortcoming.

Physicists have been trying to find the missing pieces in the jigsaw that would extend the Standard Model into a complete theory of all the forces of nature. However, the landmark findings by researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton, and their partners in Japan and the US, confirm the Standard Model to even greater precision than before, deepening the puzzle. [Emphasis added]

So what is this? If something has been confirmed, surely this should lessen the puzzle, not deepen it. Even if it is a puzzling idea which has been examined, one would think its confirmation should make it less puzzling.

The project's enormously complex calculations relate to the behaviour of tiny particles found in the nuclei of atoms, known as quarks. In order to carry out these calculations, the researchers first designed and built a supercomputer that was among the fastest in the world, capable of tens of trillions of calculations per second. The computations themselves have taken a further three years to complete.

So they've designed and built one of the world's fastest supercomputers, which they've now run for three years, you would think they'd have to come up with something pretty impressive after all that money and sweat has been expended. The first two sentences in the next paragraph seem to suggest something profound must have been learned. So what have the actual results from all this computation told them?

Their result shows that the Standard Model's claim to be the best theory invented holds firm. It raises the stakes for the riddle to be solved by experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which will switch on later this year. Physicists’ efforts to confront Standard Model predictions using the most powerful computers available with the most precise experiments offer no clues about what to expect. [Emphasis added]

If this didn't cost us all so much, I'd be inclined to think this was some sort of a joke. " clues about what to expect" is the last result one should expect, after spending so much time and effort and money looking for answers. Yet NOBODY seems to question press releases like this. It seems they can simply say what they want, no matter how contradictory it is, and get away with it.

Rhetorical question - Where is the truth in modern scientific journalism? Now I think about it, the term "scientific journalism" is almost as oxymoronic as "military intelligence"... This article could just as honestly, in fact more so, be presented like this:

"After building one of the world's fastest supercomputers and running figures through it for three years, physicists are no closer to knowing anything for sure than when this project began. Although we think the Standard Model is the best available, it has failed to predict anything so now we have to turn to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, to come up with some answers."

The whole news release could have been summed up in one paragraph. Instead, they bang on about "unprecedented precision", yet still have told us nothing new at all. They even go so far as to put a graphic on the page, which makes them look all the more intelligent, after all no-one "on the street" would dare say they don't understand what it means, yet quite simply they don't. How could they?

 *_cough_* Elementary Particles *_cough_*
Illustration showing the Standard Model of elementary particles. (Credit: DOE/Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory)

The most scientific facet of this illustration is the program used to make their building blocks look 3-Dimensional... It has no real legend, just a few labels telling us particles are made up of "leptons" and "quarks", when these are simply theoretical constructs which may have no relationship with the real world whatsoever. They've never been observed, nor proven to exist, yet there they are promoted to the rank of elementary particles' main constituents.

But enough digression, let's sum up the remainder of the press release.

Professor Chris Sachrajda of the University of Southampton’s School of Physics and Astronomy said: ‘Modern supercomputers and improved theoretical techniques are allowing us to explore the limits of the Standard Model to an unprecedented precision. The next stage will be to combine such computations with new experimental results expected from the Large Hadron Collider to unravel the next level of fundamental physics.’

Again, nothing here but the assertion that they've explored the Standard Model further than ever before. We the reader still know no more about the Standard Model, even after 5 paragraphs on it. And here's the real clincher, the last sentence of the next paragraph, which had me in fits on the floor after I read it - until I realized they were actually serious about their having found NOTHING - yet again!

Professor Richard Kenway of the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics added: ‘Although the Standard Model has been a fantastic success, [despite predicting nothing... - DS] there were one or two dark corners where experimental tests had been inconclusive, because vital calculations were not accurate enough. We shone a light on one of these, but to our enormous frustration, nothing was lurking there.’ [Emphasis added]

So after banging on for six paragraphs now, and adding a nice picture for us to look at, the bottom line is, they've found absolutely nothing at all. Again.

I intend to keep on exposing these releases as the fraudulent garbage they are, posing as "news releases" yet telling us nothing new at all. Surely this rot is pumped out from these institutions to help in the securing of future financing, fund-raising by stealth, as it were.

Most folk who read through something like this quickly, (and who has the time with so much information on the internet these days to really take it in fully), think their money is not being wasted, because "a press release said otherwise". BUT - if they take the time to read these things properly, they'll see so many of them are constructed in such a way as to seem to be giving results, whilst telling us nothing new again and again.

The research, published in Physical Review Letters, was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Adapted from materials provided by University of Southampton.

If I were on the money tree limb of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, I'd seriously consider asking for my money back. I don't see any results in this release at all.

Dave Smith.


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Dave Smith (davesmith_au) is an independent researcher and Managing Editor of the Thunderblog.

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