The mad ramblings of a scientist
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Friday, April 28, 2006

Freedom, for better or worse

Today is my last day working for the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics.

Posted at: 4:27 PM
Categories: Diary
Happy birthday, Hubble!

` <http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/newsdesk/archive/releases/2006/14/image/a>`_ Today is the 16th birthday for the Hubble Telescope. To celebrate the occassion, NASA and ESA are releasing a wonderful mosaic picture of the Messier 82 galaxy.

Posted at: 4:09 PM (Edited: April 28, 2006, 4:20 PM)
Categories: Physics in the news
National Academies Press

Here is a public, free link to the National Academy's report on high-energy physics. Some press coverage can be found in the New York Times, Nature, Science, and the Chicago Tribune.

Posted at: 4:02 PM (Edited: April 28, 2006, 4:14 PM)
Categories: Physics in the news

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The future of high-energy physics in the US, according to the National Academies

Because our government is so poor at long term planning, I was impressed when the NSF and DOE sponsored a study from the National Academy of Sciences on a fifteen year program for high-energy physics. The results of this study became available today. The main points of the report are:

  • If current trends for funding for high-energy physics continue, we (the US) will cede our leadership in the field.
  • Current priorities should focus on the LHC program in Europe. This appears to be in contradiction to the above point and is a recognition that this country may already have lost its edge.
  • As a future priority, the US should aggressively pursue the construction of the proposed next generation facility, the ILC, at the Fermilab national laboratory (in this country). Despite budgetary constraints, the US should try to obtain sufficient funding to accomplish this.

There have been many reviews over the years of the high-energy physics program in the US. Most notable are the efforts of the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (affectionally known as "P5"), a subpanel of the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP). However, these reviews have been internal, and were performed by physicists inside the community. Thus, their impartiality were always under some suspicion.

What is different about the Academy review is that it was (at least in part) external. Many of the members of the review committee had little or no prior experience in the field. This gives their report more force. However, there are concerns that if the report becomes too closely connected with the current adminstration, it may do more damage to the field than good.

Posted at: 7:37 PM
Categories: Physics in the news

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Writing can be therapeutic

Today I was working on my projects web page and decided I needed to explain how author lists of most papers on high-energy physics are compiled. The resulting little essay turned into a bit of a rant. In the process of putting together this little rant I learned how to write like someone who is not part of the high-energy physics community, which is sort of a new feeling.

The high-energy physics community is so messed up. It is depressing because some of the people there are so brilliant and kind.

Posted at: 1:28 PM
Categories: Diary