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parallaxicality
2012-Aug-04, 10:10 AM
I was reading The Economist a few weeks ago and it noted that one of the reasons that science hasn't been as lionised today as in years past is because it hasn't found a genuinely useful subatomic particle since the neutron in 1932. Well, now we've pretty much found all the particles we're going to find, bar a massive tech upgrade, which among them are likely to yield the most economic benefits?

caveman1917
2012-Aug-04, 12:47 PM
I was reading The Economist a few weeks ago and it noted that one of the reasons that science hasn't been as lionised today as in years past is because it hasn't found a genuinely useful subatomic particle since the neutron in 1932. Well, now we've pretty much found all the particles we're going to find, bar a massive tech upgrade, which among them are likely to yield the most economic benefits?

I'm not sure when exactly antiparticles were found, but positrons have medical applications for example.

Strange
2012-Aug-04, 01:04 PM
I'm not sure when exactly antiparticles were found, but positrons have medical applications for example.

I was going to say that, but it turns out that positrons were detected a few years before neutrons. Who knew.

Swift
2012-Aug-04, 01:10 PM
I was reading The Economist a few weeks ago and it noted that one of the reasons that science hasn't been as lionised today as in years past is because it hasn't found a genuinely useful subatomic particle since the neutron in 1932.
I don't blame you for quoting The Economist, but that statement is nonsense, IMO. DNA, lasers, the integrated circuit, etc., etc., did not have anything to do with finding the next subatomic particle, yet all are useful and of great economic importance. How much the public may or may not lionize science for those discovers is another discussion.

What the public things about high energy physics... I'm not sure. My guess is that they think very little about it, with little opinion one way or the other; maybe mild curiosity at best.

Are there any economically useful subatomic particles still to be discovered... I don't know, but I kind of doubt it, at least directly useful particles. But expanding our knowledge of science has always been ultimately useful, even if very indirectly.

swampyankee
2012-Aug-04, 01:16 PM
They're all kind of useful, keeping the Universe together, and all that. That we can't figure out a way to put a price tag on something doesn't mean it's not important.

Squink
2012-Aug-04, 04:38 PM
I was reading The Economist ... noted that one of the reasons that science hasn't been as lionised today as in years past is because it hasn't found a genuinely useful subatomic particle since the neutron in 1932.What a peculiar hypothesis. Did they offer some backing for it? Offhand, I'd have blamed the current "failure to lionize" more on the continuing absence of fusion reactors and flying automobiles or even non-scientific, cultural factors.

SkepticJ
2012-Aug-04, 08:29 PM
Magnetic monopoles would be very useful, but it'll probably be centuries before we can build a particle accelerator powerful enough to create them.

Assuming they're real, of course.

trinitree88
2012-Aug-05, 03:21 PM
Magnetic monopoles would be very useful, but it'll probably be centuries before we can build a particle accelerator powerful enough to create them.

Assuming they're real, of course.

SkepticJ. I think I'll side with Sheldon Glashow...when he wrote to Blas Cabrera on Valentine's Day about his previous claim of monopoles...
" Roses are red, violets are blue, now is the time for monopole two".....another has never been claimed (anomalous data point), and is specifically prohibited by Maxwell's Equations ....=0.

1.Muons, discovered long ago, catalyze fusion, and are suspected of initiating fusion in stellar interiors, when a protostar finally lights up.
2.The Omega minus particle confirmed that the quark model was basically correct, leading to the Standard Model of today.
3. I don't think we've pulled all the rabbits out of the hat with regards to weak currents yet...we'll see. pete

noncryptic
2012-Aug-05, 07:58 PM
I think the observation made by The Economist reveals a limited perspective on science, with a focus on economics.

Science is not so much about finding specific useful or economically beneficial things, science is about obtaining insight in 'how the world works', going under the assumption that insight in how things work is generally useful and beneficial to mankind, economically and otherwise. For instance science has contributed a lot to healthcare, and in the end healthcare is not about profit maximization.

SkepticJ
2012-Aug-05, 09:11 PM
SkepticJ. I think I'll side with Sheldon Glashow...when he wrote to Blas Cabrera on Valentine's Day about his previous claim of monopoles...
" Roses are red, violets are blue, now is the time for monopole two".....another has never been claimed (anomalous data point), and is specifically prohibited by Maxwell's Equations ....=0.

So? We don't dictate reality. Maxwell Equations could be modified in light of new observations. This is science, not, well, you know . . .

The possibility that monopoles exist keep cropping up in mainstream theories, which is interesting.

Jens
2012-Aug-06, 02:25 AM
I would say that the Higgs boson is quite economically beneficial, because without it apparently we wouldn't have mass, and without mass we likely wouldn't exist, which would be quite bad for the economy. Gluons are quite important too in that sense. And discovering gravitons would be important too, because without gravity we'd have fairly deep economic troubles as well.

Solfe
2012-Aug-06, 02:33 AM
True muonium. Technically discovered in parts but not in that desired form.

Xelebes
2012-Aug-06, 02:45 AM
It's not one of the acute assertions the Economist has published.

The atom bomb literally created the fear of science that we are experiencing today. Generations previous had a chance to develop a sense of wonder when they heard of new things developed by scientists and engineers. Baby Boomers didn't have that luxury - they were too busy practicing the drills in case the nuclear holocaust happened. Environmentalism developed as a result of that and I think we saw major gains in biology in the meantime.

Ivan Viehoff
2012-Aug-06, 08:02 AM
A lot of the scientific discoveries of recent times that lead to widespread revolutionary applications, such as smart phones, LED lights, medical scanners, etc, don't have the cachet and simplicity of the discovery of the neutron, where we can point to a simple clear new concept and probably name a discoverer or two. And maybe people see it more like engineering than science. But plainly there is a lot of this stuff still going on, far more than in the days when the neutron was discovered. Probably in the crowds now carrying out this work, it is hard to identify single signal figures and discoveries like Dirac and antimatter.

But high energy physics is in trouble. We've been bashing stuff ever harder and still don't have a hint of anything other than the excellent but inconsistent and incomplete Standard Model which has been fixed since about 1980 if not earlier. I think LHC is not going to have an early successor because the societal return from the large colliders has been reducing. The Economist is right about one thing, everything has its price. And fusion energy isn't going to be much use, even if we develop the technology for useful generation, if the equipment needed to generate it is too expensive and no hint it can be cheap. Even fission energy has been getting more expensive rather than cheaper, and it seems no easier to build a plant than it did 30 years ago.

trinitree88
2012-Aug-06, 03:56 PM
I would say that the Higgs boson is quite economically beneficial, because without it apparently we wouldn't have mass, and without mass we likely wouldn't exist, which would be quite bad for the economy. Gluons are quite important too in that sense. And discovering gravitons would be important too, because without gravity we'd have fairly deep economic troubles as well.

Jens. Yep. Giving things mass is cool. At the same time we ought to be giving things inertia....otherwise the principle of equivalence is in trouble. Discovering gravitons would be equally cool, because we might learn how to manipulate their properties some. That'd give us objects that would first seem to violate our sense of the laws of gravitation, while simultaneously seeming to violate the laws on inertia....say, hover in midair, accelerate enormously, and then make ~ right angle turns at very large velocities. Pretty odd behavior.
pete