Tuesday, 14 June 2011

..And In The Running..

...for the stupidest quote by a physicist ever, Fermilab's Dmitri Denisov's memorable opinion on why the 'new particle' spike in the data of one collector was not found in the data of another:
"Protons and antiprotons don't know what detector they're colliding in."

Now, call me a reactionary, out-of-date ex-physicist if you like, but I'd have thought that the first and most obvious explanation would be precisely that - although re-couched as instrumental error.

For of course the particles 'see' a difference between the detectors. The detectors are in different physical locations, no? The experiment were run over different periods of time, not so? Possibly different local temperature, pizo-electrical fields...hell, even different colours of paint could affect the outcome.

But it seems today's particle physicists are so wedded to their ideal conditions of experimentation - conditons in which all possible effects due to temperature, pressure, gravitation, friction and so on are eliminated - that they are failing to live, as it were, in the real world.

I'm sure they've done their best to provide experimental conditons as alike as possible for the two detectors. But who knows whether the spirit, which blows where it listeth, is not the differentiating factor?


  1. Don't think I ever completely understood the expression "up to shit" until now, because that seems to me what these guys are up to. Or is that "full of"?

    Almost gave up looking for this quote I vaguely recalled:

    "When you study natural science and the miracles of creation, if you don't turn into a mystic you are not a natural scientist." -Albert Hofmann

    And found these two excellent ones while looking for it:

    "Mystics understand the roots of the Tao but not its branches; scientists understand its branches but not its roots. Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but man needs both." -Fritjof Capra

    "Love is the only religion, the only god, the only mystery that has to be lived, understood. When love is understood, you have understood all the sages and all the mystics of the world." -Osho

  2. Beautiful, thanks Pstonie.

    Osho's quote I completely agree with - and so, it seems, did Terence McKenna on his deathbed.

    I'm on a reread of Capra's Tao of Physics right now.

    Terri in Joburg