Monday, September 29, 2008

Incredibly pointless paper

This has to be one of the most useless things I've ever seen on the arxiv. Basically, the authors point out that there is absolutely no chance of the helium coolant of the LHC magnet system suddenly deciding to explode. Gee, really?! It is just sad that someone felt compelled to write this.

This paper reminds me of the old Annals of Improbable Research article, "The Effect of Peanut Butter on the Rotation of the Earth".

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say pointless. There are a lot of crackpots out there that need debunking.

stefan said...

The really sad thing is that there are that many crackpots around who get that much attention that "real" physicist feel pressed to waste their time pointing out the obvious in minute detail.

Doug Natelson said...

Stefan - exactly!

Uncle Al said...

one of the most useless things I've ever seen on the arxiv

http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0205089
No Physicist Left Behind

Table at end of paper. Twist a dial and a 60.5 kg lump exhibits 41 kg of buoyancy instead. NASA would emerge from a puddle of steaming body fluids tossing bags of $100 bills your way. Large, heavy bags.

Bob McElrath said...

There is obviously no physics content in this paper. The issue was presented in the Hawaii and European Court of Human Rights cases against CERN, and we were requested to say something about it.

Yes we're pointing out the obvious, and it makes me sad that we have to spend our time doing this kind of stuff rather than real physics. If only we could somehow convince the world that 10,000 of the best and brightest physicists in the world (a) are not morons and (b) have no interest in blowing up the world...

Doug Natelson said...

Hi Bob - Thanks for writing. I realize that my posting sounds like it's slamming you, and that's not how I meant it. Sorry about that. As Stefan above pointed out, it's absolutely tragic that someone like you has to spend even a millisecond debunking something like that. It would be as crazy as me having to write an explanation of why microwave ovens can't explode into city-destroying mushroom clouds (see, microwaves use radiation, and nu-ku-lar bombs do too, so clearly there may be some risk....). Part of the blame has to fall on journalists who look for drama and controversy where there isn't any. (John Q. Crank says that the LHC will turn people into flesh-eating zombies. CERN physicist Bob McElrath denies this. Let's look at both sides of this controversy.)

Bob McElrath said...

No worries Doug, I didn't think you were slamming me. ;) I agree it's pointless!

Hmmm...flesh eating zombies...I might just use that. So far I've just been using the "man-eating pink dragon" hypothesis, which was pointed out to have a probability e^-S for a dragon of entropy S. Now we should debate whether the entropy of a flesh-eating zombie is larger or smaller than that of a pink dragon...

Tom said...

Also sad is that that both Wieman and Cornell responded to one of these wingnuts, clarified some remarks and reassured everyone that "going bosenova" wasn't a threat, and these actions ultimately had no effect on the wingnut stance.