Thursday, March 08, 2012

Evidence and The Science of Wishful Thinking: CERN Higgs Boson a Loose Cable: Faster than Light Neutrino is Nothing But a Fata Morgana -- a Mirage


Ah, yes. What is EVIDENCE??

Let us run the time machine back to the beginnings of the computer era.

It had been a hard night. Imagine if you will that it is early in the morning and the BOSS is frantically trying to get his desk electronics working, but nothing seems to help. The system is dead. But wait, SHE, his secretary, hearing or sensing the BOSS's plight, comes into the room, and sees immediately that THE CLEANING LADY the night before had pulled the electric plug to the BOSS'S desk while vacuuming and had not plugged it back into the socket securely. The BOSS was simply out of juice, and so, SHE plugged the plug back into the socket securely. Viola (!) everything lit up like it should.

LOL ("laughing out loud"), but that story has just been repeated for all practical purposes at the billion-dollar hadron collider at CERN, which not too long ago was reporting a possible discovery of a purported fantasy-like Higgs Boson, an allegedly "faster than light" neutrino, whose existence would negate Einstein's fairly secure theory that the speed of light is the limit.

The story is reported by Ian O'Neill at Discovery News in Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos Caused by Loose Cable? and Jeffrey Kugler at Time Magazine's Science Section in 'Faster Than Light' Neutrino Was Product of Loose Cable at CERN: Einstein Was Right All Along: ‘Faster-Than-Light’ Neutrino Was Product of Error -- A discovery that could have upended a century of physics research was caused by a loose cable. Phew.

We were skeptical from the beginning of these Higgs Boson reports and wrote in More on the God Particle - the Hiccups Boson, oops, Higgs Boson at Einstein's Voice in December last year as follows:
"Now you see it and now you don't, as if the so-called "God particle" had hiccups.

Eryn Brown has the story at the Los Angeles Times in Scientists excited over hints of finding the elusive Higgs boson - latimes.com.

It is an old idea you know. You cut matter in half, then cut it in half, again and again, and then, in the end, what is left?

The answer is: the imagination of modern theoretical physicists."
But do not be mistaken. The theoretical physicists in charge of these billion-dollar instruments now have egg on their faces, as their search for scientific  immortality has been sabotaged by a simple electric cable, and they are not going to give up just because the facts do not support their theories.

Quite the contrary, and quite in the spirit of modern "empirical" science, we imagine that they will persevere all the more strongly than ever to prove that they were nevertheless right all along, indeed, until they get the results they WANT, and this in spite of cogent voices in the scientific community who have pointed all along that systematic error at this level of research -- nanosecond timing -- is virtually pre-programmed.

Ian O'neill quotes Lawrence M. Krauss, Director, Origins Project, Arizona State University, and his op-ed in the Los Angeles Times titled "CERN and colliding theories.":
""A dramatic claim from a distinguished laboratory that turns out to be false reinforces the notion that somehow science is not to be trusted, that one can dismiss theories one finds inconvenient, even those whose predictions do agree with observations," he said."
We agree, and note that one has to understand that it is hard to believe that these scientists can measure up to the accuracy of a 60th billionth of a second if they can not even plug their electric cables in securely. What are they measuring with? Light. Hmmm. That is a problem. If something allegedly arrives faster than the very medium being used for measure, then that medium can hardly be used to measure that faster speed, now can it?

EVIDENCE? Yes, we need GOOD evidence. And that will take considerably more than what the scientists are offering, regardless of what their instruments allegedly tell them about the theoretical Higgs Boson, now or in the future. On the one hand, they want to tell us that this alleged particle is the foundation of the universe and on the other hand they are telling us they really are having trouble finding that particle. Well, it can't be both. And we expect a universally ubiquitous particle to be -- well -- ubiquitous. Sort of like the Greeks looking for Troy, which they had trouble finding, a FACT which has never disturbed the gullible archaeologists. Maybe modern theoretical physicists and archaeologists should get together, as they appear to be playing the same pea and shell game.

Make sure you read:

Physics and Law : Cosmology and Legal Theory (also here)

and


and

Belief Without Proof : Evidence and the World - #1 - String Theory in Physics



Fixing the Price of E-Books in Violation of Antitrust Law: Guess Who?


Hey, guess who is fixing e-book prices?

Naw, not THAT monopolist.

What a surprise (!) .... to the deluded.

Casey Johnston at arstechnica reports.

The United States as a Garrison State with More Guards than Teachers and More People Proportionately Locked Up Behind Bars Than Any Other Nation



Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev in Garrison America point out that the Department of Labor predicted in 2007 that the United States would have more private security guards than teachers in 2012. Has that come to pass, and what does it say about the society in which people live in America?

America also has proportionately more people locked up behind bars than any other nation, as reported by The Economist at Crime and Punishment in America in Rough justice: America locks up too many people, some for acts that should not even be criminal.

The conclusion that the American law enforcement system is an abject failure is epitomized by the recent story of an Arizona sheriff requiring jail inmates to wear pink underwear.

America, America ... what has become of thee?
A pink laughing stock for the world, rather than a land of the free?

See in this regard Martha Neil's posting at ABA Journal Law News Now in Sheriff Arpaio’s Pink-Underwear Policy May Violate Rights of Unconvicted Inmates, 9th Circuit Says.

Are they writing "may" ??? Incredible. Frankly, I am less concerned with that errant sheriff, and more concerned with fungible, ineffective, and ponderous courts unable to take action to put a stop to such nonsense in its tracks. Perhaps we should require members of Congress to wear pink underwear until they correct the laws to make rule by fiat by law enforcement officials a crime and so put an end to egregious violations of human rights and human dignity.

Read also The Economist in its Democracy in America section on American politics and The perverse incentives of private prisons.

It is time to reread the wisdom in Ben Trachtenberg's essay on Incarceration Policy Strikes Out, which was selected by the ABA Journal Board of Editors as the winner of the 2009 Ross Essay Contest.

Read also the comments there....

Here is the question:
  • Are prison and jail systems in the United States sensible instruments of the criminal law, deterring heinous crimes and locking up violent, dangerous persons who are a clear threat to society?
    -- or  --
  • Are correctional facilities opportunities for third parties to reap a profit by putting people into jails and prisons who have no rationally justifiable reason for being there and who would certainly be better served, if guilty of non-heinous crimes or misdemeanors, by community service outside such incarceration facilities?
In many cases the answer to the question is surely not the former, and in many cases, increasingly, surely the answer is the latter.

Law and Cinema: The Top 25 Legal Movies of All Time


Vote for your own favorites at the link below!

Richard Brust has a hit posting at the ABA Journal Law News Now with his

The 25 Greatest Legal Movies.

The films were chosen by 12 prominent lawyers, judges and academics in the media and entertainment or related fields, and account for 31 Oscars and  85 Oscar nominations, so this is surely a good selection, though of course there will be differences of opinion about both the rankings and the selection.

You can also view the "panel of judges" -- unfortunately only one woman, which surely biases the results in favor of male-favored movies -- plus 25 top Honorable Mention films in addition.

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