A Former Particle Physicist Is Completely Ruining the Field of Particle Physics

“Now is not the time to dwell on inventing particles, arguing that even a blind chicken sometimes finds a grain.”

Shots fired

If you’re struggling to keep up with the latest advances in particle physics, we don’t blame you. The anime field has exploded in recent years, with an extensive series of highly experimental studies – and a lot of very inconclusive literature – resulting. You’d be forgiven for assuming that if so much time, money, and effort is put into a particular area of ​​study, it must be worth it. Right?

According to former particle physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, the answer is unfortunately wrong.

“It has become common practice for physicists to invent new particles for which there is no evidence, to publish articles about them, to write more articles on the properties of these particles and to demand that the hypothesis is tested experimentally,” said Hossenfelder, who now works as an astrophysicist. argued in an excoriating essay for The Guardian. “It’s a waste of time and money.”

Big grain time

Hossenfelder’s case rests on several critiques of the field, the first being social. Basically, she says, everyone follows the leader. If your peers are receiving grants in the name of faraway, conceptual, unproven particles, why would anyone pull out? Science doesn’t come cheap, and going against the grain is inherently a much harder sell.

But that question aside, the astrophysicist thinks there’s a deeper problem with the race to discover particles: that particle physicists have “misinterpreted” Karl Popper’s philosophy of falsifiability, the misinterpreting it to mean, as she writes, that “every falsifiable idea is also good science.”

In other words, many of his peers have used falsifiability to justify a good deal of dead-end research, rather than using it as a guideline. And this, in his view, has led to the use and study of misinterpreted and-or-probably-not-real particles as convenient plugs for statistical holes in a number of other theories. A disturbing observation, given that, if true, it would mean that a lot of research there is blocked by non-existent glue.

“I believe that there are breakthroughs waiting to be made in the fundamentals of physics; the world needs technological advances more than ever”, explains the astrophysicist, “now is not the time to dwell on inventing particles, arguing that even a blind chicken sometimes finds a grain.”

“It saddens me,” she added, “to see that the estate has become a wasteful academic paper mill.”

READ MORE: Nobody in physics dares to say it, but the race to invent new particles is useless [The Guardian]

Learn more about particle physics: CERN scientists annoyed that people think they’re losing reality

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