SEND US! SEND US!
WE'RE READY TO GO!
WE DON'T DRINK LIQUOR!
WE DON'T GET INSANELY JEALOUS
& TRY TO MURDER EACH OTHER!
WE DON'T CARE IF WE DON'T COME BACK!
I suppose I don't have to explain the Standard Model to the List, and that's a Very Good Thing, because I couldn't. But you can buy it on a big wall chart, and just about every itty-bitty thing that GCE members claim to detect with their nifty gizmos, and how they all relate to each other, is on the wall chart. (Raise your hand if you own the wall chart.)
Well ... I keep waiting, but nobody here has claimed his/her gizmo detects Higgs Bosons. At the moment, best hope for that rests on the Large Hadron Collider which CERN in Switzerland expects to turn ON this May. Two protons will smash into one another at 14 TeV (terra electron volts), and that ought to furp out a Higgs Boson or two if they're there.
Interestingly enough, we don't have to be left out in the cold in CERN's hunt for the Higgs. The LHC will produce 400,000,000 proton collisions per second, producing 40,000 gigabytes of data per second. You can donate your PC's idle CPU time to help analyze this massive data set in a distributed computing project (like SETI_at_Home or Folding_at_Home). Here's a very friendly overview.
Anyway, Steven Weinberg and his colleagues Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow shared the 1979 Nobel Physics Prize for developing the Standard Model. When you have a hard-science Nobel, you can say pretty much anything you want, and pretty much everybody listens. Last week at the Space Telescope Science Institute (the Hubble folks), Weinberg savagely lashed out at every aspect of manned spaceflight. A sample:
"The International Space Station is an orbital turkey ... No important science has come out of it. I could almost say no science has come out of it. And I would go beyond that and say that the whole manned spaceflight program, which is so enormously expensive, has produced nothing of scientific value."
He's hardly the first. James Van Allen (died 2006) was a lifelong critic of manned space programs, saying that robotic space probes "have delivered on their promises and have gone far beyond them." In 1985 he called President Reagan's endorsement of a manned space station "so speculative and so poorly founded that no one of lesser stature would have dared mention it to an informed audience."
In 2004 Van Allen was just as hostile to President Bush's manned space projects to the Moon and Mars. "I'm one of the most durable and fervent advocates of space exploration, but my take is that we could do it robotically at far less cost and far greater quantity and quality of results."
I particularly like
"Human beings don't serve any useful function in space. They radiate heat, they're very expensive to keep alive and unlike robotic missions, they have a natural desire to come back, so that anything involving human beings is enormously expensive."