Posts Tagged ‘CERN’

The universe shouldn’t exist

October 28, 2017

Even if the Standard Model is right and an equal amount of matter and anti-matter was produced at the Big Bang, it still does not explain why the matter and anti-matter did not exterminate each other with a huge flash of energy. Why a huge amount of energy was first triggered to be absorbed to create matter and anti-matter at the Big Bang is brushed aside as being at a singularity, before the laws of physics existed and maybe before even time existed.

CERN has a new press release showing that apart from sign – as the standard model requires – no difference can be detected between a proton and an antiproton.

It is not the new measurements which say the universe should not exist. It is in fact the standard model which says that the universe should not exist. Maybe the standard model has to be modified.

Riddle of matter remains unsolved: Proton and antiproton share fundamental properties

Scientists are still in search of a difference between protons and antiprotons which would help to potentially explain the existence of matter in our universe. However, physicists in the BASE collaboration at the CERN research center have been able to measure the magnetic force of antiprotons with almost unbelievable precision. Nevertheless, the data do not provide any information about how matter formed in the early universe as particles and antiparticles would have had to completely destroy one another. The most recent BASE measurements revealed instead a large overlap between protons and antiprotons, thus confirming the Standard Model of particle physics. Around the world, scientists are using a variety of methods to find some difference, regardless of how small. The matter-antimatter imbalance in the universe is one of the hot topics of modern physics. …….. 

The BASE collaboration published high-precision measurements of the antiproton g-factor back in January 2017 but the current ones are far more precise. The current high-precision measurement determined the g-factor down to nine significant digits. This is the equivalent of measuring the circumference of the earth to a precision of four centimeters. The value of 2.7928473441(42) is 350 times more precise than the results published in January. “This tremenduous increase in such a short period of time was only possible thanks to completely new methods,” said Ulmer. The process involved scientists using two antiprotons for the first time and analyzing them with two Penning traps.

We have to bear in mind  that CERN has a massive confirmation bias. Their primary reason for existence is to confirm the standard model.


Elementary particle turns out to have been a mirage as CERN serves up more inelegant physics

August 6, 2016

Current physics and the Standard Model of the Universe it describes are no longer elegant. I have no doubt that the underlying structure of the universe is simple and beautiful. But models which require more than 61 elementary particles and numerous fudge factors (dark energy and dark matter) and an increasing complexity, are ugly and do not convince. Especially when they cannot explain the four “magical” forces we observe (gravitation, magnetic, strong nuclear and the weak nuclear forces).

I have a mixture of admiration and contempt for the “Big Physics” as practised by CERN and their experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. So, I was actually quite relieved to hear that CERN has just announced that, after much publicity, they hadn’t actually detected yet another elementary particle which was not predicted by the Standard Model. Since they found some anomalous data last December they have hyped the possibility of a new extra-heavy, elementary particle. Over 500 papers have been written (and published) postulating explanations of the data anomaly and fantasising about the nature of this particle. But the data has just disappeared. The postulated particle does not exist.

I remain convinced that 90% of modern physics is all about raising questions – some genuine and some fantasised – to ensure that funding for Sledgehammer Science continues. So not to worry. CERN may not have found another elementary particle this time. But they will soon come up with another unexpected particle, preceded by much publicity and hype, which will spawn much further speculation, and, most importantly, keep the funds flowing.

New York Times:

A great “might have been” for the universe, or at least for the people who study it, disappeared Friday.  

Last December, two teams of physicists working at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider reported that they might have seen traces of what could be a new fundamental constituent of nature, an elementary particle that is not part of the Standard Model that has ruled particle physics for the last half-century.  

A bump on a graph signaling excess pairs of gamma rays was most likely a statistical fluke, they said. But physicists have been holding their breath ever since.  

If real, the new particle would have opened a crack between the known and the unknown, affording a glimpse of quantum secrets undreamed of even by Einstein. Answers to questions like why there is matter but not antimatter in the universe, or the identity of the mysterious dark matter that provides the gravitational glue in the cosmos. In the few months after the announcement, 500 papers were written trying to interpret the meaning of the putative particle.

Science Alert:

CERN made the announcement this morning at the International Conference of High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Chicago, alongside a huge slew of new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) data.

“The intriguing hint of a possible resonance at 750 GeV decaying into photon pairs, which caused considerable interest from the 2015 data, has not reappeared in the much larger 2016 data set and thus appears to be a statistical fluctuation,” CERN announced in a press release sent via email.

Why did we ever think we’d found a new particle in the first place?

Back in December, researchers at CERN’s CMS and ATLAS experiments smashed particles together at incredibly high energies, sending subatomic particles flying out as debris.

Among that debris, the researchers saw an unexpected blip of energy in form of an excess in pairs of photons, which had a combined energy of 750 gigaelectron volts (GeV). 

The result lead to hundreds of journal article submissions on the mysterious energy signature – and prompted many physicists to hypothesise that the excess was a sign of a brand new fundamental particle, six times more massive than the Higgs boson – one that wasn’t predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics.

But, alas, the latest data collected by the LHC shows no evidence that this particle exists – despite further experiments, no sign of this 750 GeV bump has emerged since the original reading

So, we’re no closer to finding a new particle – or evidence of a new model that could explain some of the more mysterious aspects of the Universe, such as how gravity works (something the Standard Model doesn’t account for).

The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator (Image: CERN)

The Higgs Boson that CERN claims to have found last year has turned out to be not quite the boson predicted by the Standard Model. So while the Higgs boson was supposed to be the God particle, the boson found only indicated that there were more bosons to be found. I dislike the publicity and hype that CERN generates — which is entirely about securing further funding.  (The LHC cost $4.75 billion to build and sucks up about $5 billion annually to conduct their experiments).

Constantly adding complexity to a mathematical model and the increasing use of fudge factors is usually a sign that the model is fundamentally wrong. But some great insight is usually needed to simplify and correct a mathematical model. Until that insight comes, the models are the best available and just have to be fudged and added to in an ad hoc manner, to correct flaws as they are found.

The Standard Model and its 61+ particles will have to be replaced at some point by something more basic and more simple. But that will require some new Einstein-like insight, and who knows when that might occur. But the Standard Model is inelegant. The LHC is expected to operate for another 20 years. But the very weight of the investment in the LHC means that physicists cannot build a career by being heretical or by questioning the Standard Model itself.

I miss the elegance that Physics once chased:

Physics has become a Big Science where billion dollar sledgehammers are used to crack little nuts. Pieces of nut and shell go flying everywhere and each little fragment is considered a new elementary particle. The Rutherford-Bohr model still applies, but its elementary particles are no longer considered elementary. Particles with mass and charge are given constituent particles, one having mass and no charge, and one having charge and no mass. Unexplainable forces between particles are assigned special particles to carry the force. Particles which don’t exist, but may have existed, are defined and “discovered”. Errors in theoretical models are explained away by assigning appropriate properties to old particles or defining new particles. Every new particle leaves a new slime trail across the painting. It is as if a bunch of savages are doodling upon a masterpiece. The scribbling is ugly and hides the masterpiece underneath, but it does not mean that the masterpiece is not there.

The “standard model” does not quite fit observations so new theories of dark energy and dark matter are postulated (actually just invented as fudge factors) and further unknown particles are defined. The number of elementary particle have proliferated and are still increasing. The “standard model” of physics now includes at least 61 elementary particles (48 fermions and 13 bosons). Even the ancient civilisations knew better than to try and build with too many “standard” bricks. Where did simplicity go? Just the quarks can be red, blue or green. They can be up, down, charm, strange, top or bottom quarks. For every type of quark there is an antiquark. Electrons, muons and taus have each their corresponding neutrinos. And they all have their anti-particles.Gluons come in eight colour combinations. There are four electroweak bosons and there ought to be only one higgs boson. But who knows? CERN could find some more. I note that fat and thin or warm and cool types of particles have yet to be defined. Matter and antimatter particles on meeting each other, produce a burst of energy as they are annihilated. If forces are communicated by particles, gravity by gravitons and light by photons then perhaps all energy transmission can give rise to a whole new family of elementary particles.

The 61 particles still do not include the graviton or sparticles or any other unknown, invisible, magic particles that may go to making up dark matter and dark energy. Some of the dark matter may be stealthy dark matter and some may be phantom dark matter. One might think that when dark matter goes phantom, it ought to become visible, but that would be far too simple.  The level of complexity and apparent chaos is increasing. Every new particle discovered requires more money and Bigger Science to find the next postulated elementary particle.

When CERN claimed to have found the God Particle – the higgs boson – they still added the caveat that it was just one kind of the higgs boson and there could be more as yet unknown ones to come. So the ultimate elementary particle was certainly not the end of the road. Good grief! The end of the road can never be found. That might end the funding. And after all, even if the God Particle has been found, who created God? Guess how much all that is going to cost?


XKCD captures the spirit of CERN

October 22, 2014

This one from xkcd is very apposite!

Higgs Boson

“It could have been another particle not inconsistent with the Higgs boson – or something like it. And it’s really small” – cartoon by xkcd/1437

Science by Press Release: Overhyped “gravity waves” were just dust

September 27, 2014

In March this year there was a great deal of publicity about the detection of gravity waves after the Big Bang. There were Press Releases and promotional videos and blanket coverage in the media. There was talk about Nobel prizes. Not unlike the massive publicity mounted by CERN about the discovery of (or more accurately the potential discovery of a possible indication of a particle not inconsistent with) the Higgs boson particle. After that non-discovery also there was talk about the CERN team being awarded a Nobel Prize! Even a member of the Nobel Committee was taken in by the publicity and fought for CERN the organisation, to be awarded  the physics prize. Most of the campaign in favour of CERN was initiated and orchestrated by the PR department at CERN and the CERN fan-club.

Now it turns out that the gravity waves may well have been cosmic dust.

BBCOne of the biggest scientific claims of the year has received another set-back.

In March, the US BICEP team said it had found a pattern on the sky left by the rapid expansion of space just fractions of a second after the Big Bang. The astonishing assertion was countered quickly by others who thought the group may have underestimated the confounding effects of dust in our own galaxy.

That explanation has now been boosted by a new analysis from the European Space Agency’s (Esa) Planck satelliteIn a paper published on the arXiv pre-print server, Planck’s researchers find that the part of the sky being observed by the BICEP team contained significantly more dust than it had assumed.

BIG Science of this kind needs BIG FUNDS. BIG FUNDS need BIG CLAIMS. A BIG CLAIM followed by a retraction is seen to be better – from a publicity perspective – than an uninteresting claim or no claim at all. The people who control the BIG FUND purse strings are generally governments in the form of bureaucrats and administrators and politicians. They don’t usually read the scientific papers themselves. But they do read the Press Releases and take note of the number of column-inches of newspaper articles that are generated. Promotional videos with many hits on You-Tube are also taken note of.

This is science by Press Release. Scientific quality is now judged by the amount of publicity generated.

I am not competent to judge the technical content of these “discoveries” and therefore have to rely on others who are. And so I take note of what Sean Carroll, a CalTech physicist writes on his blog:

Ever since we all heard the exciting news that the BICEP2 experiment had detected “B-mode” polarization in the cosmic microwave background — just the kind we would expect to be produced by cosmic inflation at a high energy scale — the scientific community has been waiting on pins and needles for some kind of independent confirmation, so that we could stop adding “if it holds up” every time we waxed enthusiastic about the result. And we all knew that there was just such an independent check looming, from the Planck satellite. The need for some kind of check became especially pressing when some cosmologists made a good case that the BICEP2 signal may very well have been dust in our galaxy, rather than gravitational waves from inflation (Mortonson and Seljak; Flauger, Hill, and Spergel).

Now some initial results from Planck are in … and it doesn’t look good for gravitational waves.

Planck intermediate results. XXX. The angular power spectrum of polarized dust emission at intermediate and high Galactic latitudes
Planck Collaboration: R. Adam, et al.


The light-blue rectangles are what Planck actually sees and attributes to dust. The black line is the theoretical prediction for what you would see from gravitational waves with the amplitude claimed by BICEP2. As you see, they match very well. That is: the BICEP2 signal is apparently well-explained by dust.

….. Planck has observed the whole sky, including the BICEP2 region, although not in precisely the same wavelengths. With a bit of extrapolation, however, they can use their data to estimate how big a signal should be generated by dust in our galaxy. The result fits very well with what BICEP2 actually measured. It’s not completely definitive — the Planck paper stresses over and over the need to do more analysis, especially in collaboration with the BICEP2 team — but the simplest interpretation is that BICEP2’s B-modes were caused by local contamination, not by early-universe inflation. ….. 

“Science by consensus” and “science by press release” and even “science by press release about the consensus” have infected much of what passes for science today.

Swedish Academician rebuked for talking too much

October 10, 2013

The fuss around the Nobel Prize in Physics  is taking its toll.

Svenska Dagbladet (free translation):

Anders Bárány, Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, has been reprimanded for revealing why the announcement of the Physics Prize was an hour late. But Staffan Normark, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Presidium, would not comment. The delay on Tuesday of the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics by one hour was unprecedented and quite unique. 

 Mr Anders Bárány had revealed that the delay was caused by heated discussions within the Royal Academy of Sciences (KVA) whether the nuclear research organization CERN would share the prize,His statement had an impact already on Wednesday.

“I was called up to the Academy’s Presidium and given a real scolding” said Anders Bárány.

And I blame the CERN publicity machine for their hype and their blatant lobbying and for causing the controversy in the first place. But Anders Bárány has to take his share of the blame for falling for the publicity machine. He deserved his telling off – not so much for talking to the press after the event but for his support of CERN sharing the award!

What was he thinking?

Heated dispute within Nobel Committee delayed the Physics prize

October 9, 2013

I observed yesterday that the delay in awarding the Nobel prize in Physics could have been due to some committee members wanting to award the prize also to CERN. That supposition seems to have been correct. The PR apparatus of the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN is responsible for a lot of hype based on a somewhat inflated opinion of the organisation. They have been lobbying hard for over a year for the Physics Nobel. The PR and lobbying by CERN had clearly got to at least one member of the award committee (Anders Bárány). His view was rejected and he is now complaining that the award was “unfair”

And despite all the PR spin and all the hype they have not yet found the Higgs particle. And there are more questions left to be answered than ever before.

Big Science hype to keep Big Science funding going arouses my suspicions. For an organisation like ATLAS or CMS or CERN to have been named would have been a travesty. Almost at the level of naming the EU or the IPCC for a Peace Prize.

Fortunately good sense prevailed and the Physics prize still maintains some brand value – which the Peace Prize has lost.

Svenska Dagbladet reports (my free translation):

There was a major altercation between the members that postponed yesterday’s announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics was postponed by over an hour according to Vetenskapsradion . Before the vote, several members questioned why no part of the award was for the two laboratories which had detected the Higgs particle.

One of those objecting was Mr Anders Bárány who wanted more than just theorists  Peter Higgs and Francois Englert to be rewarded  rather than the two research teams , ATLAS and CMS being merely mentioned in the Academy of Sciences press release.

“I think it is extremely unfair. It is the first time that the explanatory text has made such a mention. I do not think they should be happy with it “, he said to Vetenskapsradion.

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert  were praised for their discoveries about the Higgs particle – but other heavyweight Higgs scientists, Carl Hagen, Gerald Guralnik and Tom Kibble were excluded. Their names had been mentioned in preliminary discussions on the physics prize, because they are considered to have made ​​significant finds around the particle around the same time as Higgs and Englert.

Carl Hagen, admitted yesterday that he was disappointed at the Academy’s decision. “The wind went out of me, of course, a little bit because the Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to stick with their old rule of three winners. It is not a true picture of how things are , but I congratulate Higgs and Englert , they must be very pleased”, Hagen said to TT.

Physics Nobel today – Higgs? but (hopefully) not CERN! Update – awarded to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs

October 8, 2013


There is more speculation doing the rounds as to why the awards were delayed by one hour.

There are some suggestions that this time was used to kill the ridiculous notion of having CERN – the organisation – as the third award winner! If that was the reason then it was time well spent!

The deliberations of the awards committee will not be released for 50 years.



The Physics Nobel award has been awarded to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs

NO CERN thankfully.


  • 106 Nobel Prizes in Physics have been awarded between 1901-2012.
  • 47 Physics Prizes have been given to one Laureate only.
  • women have been awarded the Physics Prize so far.
  • person, John Bardeen, has been awarded the Physics Prize twice.
  • 25 years was the age of the youngest Physics Laureate ever, Lawrence Bragg, when he was awarded the 1915 Physics Prize together with his father.
  • 55 is the average age of the Physics Laureates the year they were awarded the prize.


The speculation this morning on Swedish Radio is that the Higgs Boson will be recognised. There was some speculation that Higgs himself could lose out but that CERN – as an organisation – could be a winner. I hope not. The Radio commentators all seem to have the impression that the Higgs particle was discovered by CERN last year. But my understanding is that nothing was actually found. Something – not inconsistent with a Higgs particle – was indicated and the Higgs particle was “tentatively confirmed to exist on 14 March 2013” (though “tentative” and “confirmation” is a contradiction in terms).

In any event, I think the Nobel should stick to individuals and not go the way of the discredited Peace Prize and name an organisation like CERN. Professor Higgs would be acceptable even though it would be preferable to wait – but not CERN.

We shall see. (The announcement is due in about 3 hours).

Thomson Reuters predictions:


François Englert and Peter W. Higgs
For their prediction of the Brout-Englert-Higgs boson

Hideo Hosono
For his discovery of iron-based superconductors

Geoffrey W. Marcy and Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz
For their discoveries of extrasolar planets

2012 Nobel prize speculations begin

September 12, 2012

UPDATE – 8th October

(The Physiology / Medicine awards are to be announced today)

The 2012 Thomson Reuters predictions are here:


Every year around this time with about a month to go before the awards are announced the predictions and speculation begin about potential Nobel prize laureates. I don’t believe there is as much lobbying / marketing involved in the Nobel speculations as for the Oscars – but certainly some institutions and laboratories do try – much earlier in the year – to get some appropriate publicity for “their candidate”. This year the CERN publicity machine – which made much ado about their discovery – or not – of the Higgs boson – has been in full swing. Perhaps the hype was just to ensure funding but I am sure the possibility of a Nobel was not very far from their thoughts.

Dates for the Announcements

The prize awarding institutions have set the following dates for their announcements of 2012 prize decisions:

PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE– Monday 8 October, 11:30 a.m. at the earliest
PHYSICS – Tuesday 9 October, 11:45 a.m. at the earliest
CHEMISTRY – Wednesday 10 October, 11:45 at the earliest
PEACE – Friday 12 October, 11:00 a.m.
ECONOMIC SCIENCES – Monday 15 October, 1:00 p.m. at the earliest
LITERATURE – The date will be set later

The Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates will probably be announced in another 10 days or so.

Each year, Thomson Reuters uses data from its research solution, Web of Knowledge, to quantitatively determine the most influential researchers in the Nobel categories of Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Economics. Based on a thorough review of citations to their works, the company names these high-impact researchers as Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates and predicts them to be Nobel Prize winners, either this year or in the near future.   

Thomson Reuters is the only organization to use quantitative data to make annual predictions of Nobel Prize winners. Since 2002, 21 Citation Laureates have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.

A few of the early predictions are out in the blogosphere:

Chemistry, Chemistry and PhysicsEconomics, Literature.

Higgs Boson may not have been found after all. Just a PR exercise?

July 12, 2012

Is this some new way to ensure that funding continues?

First some very high profile publicity to announce some fantastic new discovery – which then gradually gets debunked over the next few months but at a much lower level of interest. But the initial high-profile announcements probably help to maintain the perceptions necessary to ensure funding. The low profile debunking does not register. It seems to be getting to be a habit for CERN.

Last September the CERN PR apparatus went into overdrive with the announcements that FTL neutrinos may have been found. FTL particles were announced with great fanfare only to be debunked later. And by November the story had died but the publicity had no doubt helped to bolster the perception that CERN is important.

A few days ago the CERN PR operations went into full swing. Advance warnings of an “Important Announcement” were disseminated widely. Background information was spread to all the media. Physicists around the world were interviewed about what the Higgs Boson was and what the discovery would mean. It was not long before the new “discovery” was being hailed as the most important scientific discovery of the 21st Century, and on par with Copernicus’s discovery that the sun is the center of our solar system”.  And now just one week later it appears that whatever was found may not be the Higgs Boson and may not even be a separate particle at all.

I am naturally cynical about the extravagant trappings that sometimes surround “big science” but lately CERN’s PR seems more impressive than any physics they do:

CERN PR in action: Rolf Heuer, CERN Director General (C), Fabiola Gianotti, ATLAS experiment spokesperson (L), and Joe Incandela, a spokesman of the CMS experiment, look at a screen during a scientific seminar to deliver the latest update in the search for the Higgs boson at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva July 4, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

More evidence that cloud cover – and not carbon dioxide – dominates climate

May 17, 2012

The Hockey Shtick reports on a recent paper by Aldert J. van Beelen and Aarnout J. van Delden of the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, The Netherlands which shows that the hours of sunshine decreased somewhat from 1958-1983 and then increased sharply between 1985 and 2010 at a number of places. The authors postulate that the reduction of cloud cover since 1985 was possibly due to the cleaner air with reduced aerosols during this period.

It was not so long ago that the CERN CLOUD experiments showed that cosmic rays could indeed influence cloud formation providing support for Svensmark’s hypothesis that it is solar effects via cloud formation which dominates climate.

If we assume that the reduction in sunshine hours between 1958 and 1983 was due to man-made pollution and that this was reversed in the period after 1985, it still needs Svensmark’s solar effects or some other mechanism to explain the very sharp reduction in cloud cover and increase in sunshine hours  after 1985. It seems patently obvious from every day observations that cloud cover is far more important to weather and climate than any far-fetched notions of man-made carbon dioxide having any significant influence.

The Hockey Shtick: A paper recently published in the journal Weather finds that global summer average sunshine [solar short-wave radiation that reaches Earth’s surface] dimmed during the period 1958-1983 [prompting an ice age scare], but markedly increased from 1985-2010. The increase in summer average sunshine between those two periods is 6 Watts per square meter, which dwarfs the alleged effects of CO2 by more than 5 times. [Alleged CO2 effect from 1958-2010 was calculated using the IPCC formula 5.35*ln(389.78/315) = 1.14 Watts per square meter]. At one measurement site [De Bilt], summer sunshine increased from 1985-2010 by 15 Watts per square meter, more than 23 times the IPCC alleged forcing from CO2 during the same timeframe [5.35*ln(389.78/346.04) = 0.64 Watts per square meter].

The paper states the increase in sunshine reaching the Earth’s surface is due to a decrease in aerosols including clouds, which are influenced by both anthropogenic and natural factors, and possibly changes in solar activity.

from van Beelen and van Delden “Weather” Vol.67 No. 1, January 2012

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