Hossenfelder on particle physics

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Thomas Koenig

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Sep 30, 2022, 2:02:22 PM9/30/22
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In
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/26/physics-particles-physicists
Sabine Hossenfelder offers rather scathing (and funny) comments on
particle physics, in which she likens the search for new particles
to zoologists who have developed a computer model of a purple
12-legged spider in the Arctic, and (because it is a testable
hypothesis) argue that a mision should be sent to search for it.

So, what is the general opinion on her article?

Julio Di Egidio

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Oct 1, 2022, 2:47:08 AM10/1/22
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Considering that the LHC has found no evidence for
supersymmetry, it is true/quite common sentiment (see
e.g. Arkani-Hamed), that particle physics is in a serious
crisis: and not just particle physics (GR vs QM, and so on).

That said (and since you ask), I have followed Sabine
Hossenfelder for a while on YouTube, she is cute and
funny and a good divulgator, but she is mainly just another
mediatic phenomenon: indeed, IMHO, she understands
(or at least presents) the philosophical and foundational
issues of physics not any better or any more correctly
than the average physicist or even layman does... and
that (foundational and philosophical issues) indeed is
where, fundamentally and for the most part, contemporary
physics is stuck. And not just contemporary physics...

Julio

Phillip Helbig (undress to reply)

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Oct 2, 2022, 11:16:32 AM10/2/22
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Bad. While some points might be valid, it is an exaggeration. Also,
the general media is not the place for such a discussion, simply because
most readers don't have the background to judge what she says.

It can even be harmful. If someone reads "they just make up stuff so
that they can get funding" and remembers that that is a common crackpot
claim against climate scientists who have found evidence for anthropic
global warming, they might see that as confirmation of their "sceptical"
views on climate science.

Those who have followed Sabine for years or even decades all agree that
she has turned to more provocation and less discussion recently.
Ironically, that might be because she is looking for a way to earn money
since she has said that her current funding will probably not be
extended.

Phillip Helbig (undress to reply)

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Oct 2, 2022, 11:16:32 AM10/2/22
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In article <9fd7e23e-ede5-4185...@googlegroups.com>,
Julio Di Egidio <ju...@diegidio.name> writes:

> On Friday, 30 September 2022 at 20:02:22 UTC+2, Thomas Koenig wrote:
>> In
>> https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/26/physics-particles-physicists
>> Sabine Hossenfelder offers rather scathing (and funny) comments on
>> particle physics, in which she likens the search for new particles
>> to zoologists who have developed a computer model of a purple
>> 12-legged spider in the Arctic, and (because it is a testable
>> hypothesis) argue that a mision should be sent to search for it.
>>
>> So, what is the general opinion on her article?
>
> Considering that the LHC has found no evidence for
> supersymmetry, it is true/quite common sentiment (see
> e.g. Arkani-Hamed), that particle physics is in a serious
> crisis: and not just particle physics (GR vs QM, and so on).

Yes, but Arkani-Hamed concludes from that that we need a bigger
accelerator.

> That said (and since you ask), I have followed Sabine
> Hossenfelder for a while on YouTube, she is cute and
> funny and a good divulgator, but she is mainly just another
> mediatic phenomenon: indeed, IMHO, she understands
> (or at least presents) the philosophical and foundational
> issues of physics not any better or any more correctly
> than the average physicist or even layman does... and
> that (foundational and philosophical issues) indeed is
> where, fundamentally and for the most part, contemporary
> physics is stuck. And not just contemporary physics...

I think that the main problem is that she overestimates her own
standing and can't understand why a blog post she wrote 10 years ago has
not transformed the field.


Julio Di Egidio

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Oct 3, 2022, 4:19:37 PM10/3/22
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On Sunday, 2 October 2022 at 17:16:32 UTC+2, Phillip Helbig (undress to reply) wrote:
> In article <9fd7e23e-ede5-4185...@googlegroups.com>,
> Julio Di Egidio <ju...@diegidio.name> writes:
> > On Friday, 30 September 2022 at 20:02:22 UTC+2, Thomas Koenig wrote:
<snip>
> >> So, what is the general opinion on her article?
> >
> > Considering that the LHC has found no evidence for
> > supersymmetry, it is true/quite common sentiment (see
> > e.g. Arkani-Hamed), that particle physics is in a serious
> > crisis: and not just particle physics (GR vs QM, and so on).
>
> Yes, but Arkani-Hamed concludes from that that we need a bigger
> accelerator.

He happens to advocate for bigger accelerators, as well as
"bigger telescopes", only in so far as he generally advocates
for exploring extreme phenomena, but the gist of his work
and mission is theoretical and foundational, indeed, as he
puts it, for "ordinary physics":
<https://youtu.be/GL77oOnrPzY?t=1418>
<https://youtu.be/GL77oOnrPzY?t=2769>

So, he is certainly not on some chase for exotic particles, and
I rather mentioned him as a "champion" of radical change, i.e.
for those who think some radical change would be needed...

Julio

Jonathan Thornburg [remove -color to reply]

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Oct 7, 2022, 4:26:34 AM10/7/22
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In article <th771r$sqlc$2...@newsreader4.netcologne.de>, Thomas Koenig <tko...@netcologne.de> writes:
> In
> https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/26/physics-particles-physicists
> Sabine Hossenfelder offers rather scathing (and funny) comments on
> particle physics, in which she likens the search for new particles
> to zoologists who have developed a computer model of a purple
> 12-legged spider in the Arctic, and (because it is a testable
> hypothesis) argue that a mision should be sent to search for it.
>
> So, what is the general opinion on her article?

Phillip Helbig (undress to reply) <hel...@asclothestro.multivax.de> replied:
> Bad. While some points might be valid, it is an exaggeration. [[...]]

Hossenfelder also treats "particle physics" as pretty much a single
undifferentiated field of study. But it actually has many subfields --
both theoretical and experimental -- with significantly different
intellectual traditions, cultures, successes, and (no doubt) failures.

I think reading this news story from /Science/,

https://www.science.org/content/article/showdown-two-huge-neutrino-detectors-will-vie-probe-matter-s-origins
*Clash of the titans*
/The United States and Japan are embarking on ambitious efforts to
wring a key secret of the universe from the subatomic phantoms known
as neutrinos/
Science, volume 377 (29 Sep 2022), doi: 10.1126/science.adf0547
By Adrian Cho

gives a *very* different impression of (one subfield of) particle physics
from that conveyed by Hossenfelder.

Richard Livingston

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Oct 7, 2022, 12:00:51 PM10/7/22
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It is always unfair to hold an entire group at fault for the excesses of
a few, but I feel there is room for criticism of some who make
exaggerated claims. I often read, mostly in the popular press and in
university press releases, about how some discovery is going to
revolutionize the world. Someone makes an incremental improvement in
battery chemistry and then claim that it will enable battery powered
airliners and electric cars that can be recharged in 5 minutes. Someone
sees a minor blip on some cross section and claims that it may indicate
a new particle that will reveal the nature of dark energy or dark
matter. Or the need for a new ultra high energy synchrotron to reveal
the ultimate secret of the universe. I see this sort of thing happening
often in all scientific reporting, not just physics but all fields of
science and engineering reporting.

After a while it is like the boy who always cries wolf. It degrades the
credibility of the scientific community and our scientific process. I
think this is bad for all of us and deserves to be criticized.
Unfortunately this criticism itself can degrade our credibility. I
think most of us realize that self criticism is part of the scientific
process, but the public apparently does not, they just take it as
"scientists are confused and don't know what is going on".

Self criticism is part of the scientific process. So is speculation and
extrapolation. The problem comes when it becomes unrealisitic and too
public, and the public needs to be sold on spending money on research.
That is the real harm, of course, the impact on funding for research.
Everyone is trying to get more money for their research and thus is
"selling" it.

I for one do not criticize Sabine for her criticism. It may be too
focused on high energy physics, but I think it is deserved. It be
better if we could somehow police the wild and irresponsible ideas, but
that would be too much like censorship.

Rich L.

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