“Finding Beauty in the Darkness” – TTG

"Scientists announced Thursday that they have succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space. The detection was hailed as a triumph for a controversial, exquisitely crafted, billion-dollar physics experiment and as confirmation of a key prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity."

"It will also inaugurate a new era of astronomy in which gravitational waves are tools for studying the most mysterious and exotic objects in the universe, scientists declared at a euphoric news briefing at the National Press Club in Washington."  (WaPo)


This is a big deal. Judging by the giddiness and wide eyed enthusiasm of the scientists making the announcement today, this is a mind altering, stupendously big deal. They have proven the existence of ripples in the fabric of spacetime. Perhaps some of you understand this in its fullest meaning. Or perhaps some of you, like me, are more akin to a pig looking at a wristwatch… abundant curiosity, but precious little understanding. That lack of understanding does not diminish the greatness of this achievement. In the days to come, I will endeavor to reduce my ignorance. I want to share in the giddiness of those scientists.

I can still share in the pride of this scientific achievement. It brings to mind the Robert Ardrey quote I pasted above. I read “African Genisis” in high school. It was damned near a religious experience. Quite an accomplishment considering I was surrounded by Jesuits at that time. I’m not alone in sensing the momentousness of this accomplishment for mankind. Lawrence M. Krause wrote an insightful opinion piece in the New York Times today.


"With presidential primaries in full steam, with the country wrapped up in concern about the economy, immigration and terrorism, one might wonder why we should care about the news of a minuscule jiggle produced by an event in a far corner of the universe."

"The answer is simple. While the political displays we have been treated to over the past weeks may reflect some of the worst about what it means to be human, this jiggle, discovered in an exotic physics experiment, reflects the best. Scientists overcame almost insurmountable odds to open a vast new window on the cosmos. And if history is any guide, every time we have built new eyes to observe the universe, our understanding of ourselves and our place in it has been forever altered."  (continue reading at NYT)


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60 Responses to “Finding Beauty in the Darkness” – TTG

  1. turcopolier says:

    The Alderson Drive must be “in there” somewhere. pl

  2. Farooq says:

    This is the main implication in layman’s terms:
    “…..Gravitational waves will serve as a new tool for probing the secrets of the universe, in addition to more conventional means of observation, like visible light, X-rays, and infrared. The discovery opens “a new window of astronomy,” said Reitze. The researchers say it can be thought of like the end of the silent movie era, but for astronomy. “Up to now we’ve been deaf” to gravitational waves, Reitze said. “We are going to hear more from these things, including things we never expected.””
    P.S: Those of you into space scifi programs and movies do check out “The Expanse” on syfy channel

  3. bth says:

    So Colonel, could we say then that science is fundamentally improving the human race and that we are not an infinite repetition of some Greek tragedy or comedy?
    I would say yes, but then I was a liberal arts major once upon a time.

  4. Frazier says:

    Beautiful and intriguing article. Thank you.

  5. Farooq,
    My son speaks very highly of “The Expanse.” I’ll have to find a way to watch it without a cable subscription.

  6. ked says:

    They’ve worked long & hard to confirm this bit of Einstein’s General Theory… Good! At least we don’t have to hear about String Theory for awhile (one hopes). However, turning this into some sort-of Gravity Wave Inferometry Instrument overnight is unlikely. “The curve(ature) gets step at the end.” It will take hard effort, time & $$$… is it as important as War Everwhere All the Time? Better than slicing the financial salami yet more finely on Wall St? Let’s not be ridiculous.
    Yet the promise… The promise of unveiling the mystery of dark energy & dark matter… to understand spooky entanglement at a distance… it’s gotta be worth SOMETHING … just not money at the end of the quarter. We shall see, or maybe not.

  7. Will says:

    Waves are a consequence of any field theory. One a source moves, the field changes, but not at a rate faster than the speed of light. So it takes time for the field to change at a far point. If the source oscillates, that is goes back and forth, they you will have waves. This is the principle of radio.
    In the electromagnetic field the quantization of the field is the photon. In the strong force, which binds protons, neutrons it is the gluon. And so forth. There is yet no accepted theory of quantum gravity like there are for the other forces.
    Sometimes, in quantum mechanics, it just makes more sense to forget physical pictures, and just follow the math to wherever it leads you. Plato said Ideas are the ultimate reality, likewise, math may be the ultimate reality.

  8. Aleks Braddock Road says:

    IMO start with the books (first one, “Leviathian Wakes”).

  9. Macgupta123 says:

    “Or perhaps some of you, like me, are more akin to a pig looking at a wristwatch… abundant curiosity, but precious little understanding.”
    TTG, let me try.
    1. All objects with mass have gravity (e.g., see the 18th century Cavendish experiment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavendish_experiment ).
    2. Let’s not worry about spacetime, relativity, etc., just imagine bodies are surrounded by their gravitational fields which represent their influence of attractive force on other bodies. Weaker far away from them, stronger close to them; and with discernable influence outside the laboratory only for quite massive bodies – asteroids and larger.
    3. As a body moves with respect to us, its gravitational field at our position should change. It is usually simply not measurable; but now, for sufficiently massive bodies moving sufficiently violently, we might be able to detect these changes.
    4. Well, now we have. Two blackholes of roughly 30 solar masses each, coalesced about a billion light years away, a billion years ago. They were circling each other at some 60% of the speed of light. Scientists were able to measure the very, very, very tiny jiggling this blackhole collision caused on earth.
    Now, there is tremendous substance in the parts that perhaps most don’t understand, which is how Einstein’s theory makes it possible to predict, to compute what should be observed (or to deduce what happened from what was observed) with such extraordinary precision, and in a realm of physical phenomena so far from ordinary experience.
    But at its root, that is what it is. Massive celestial bodies far away and long ago leave the traces of their motion via their gravity measurable on earth.

  10. turcopolier says:

    IMO one should be careful not to accept self deprecating modesty for actual ignorance. pl

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This test, even if validated, does not distinguish between the Theory of Gravity as formulated by Einstein and that formulated by Logunov.
    Truth still remains to be discovered.

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In the Theory of Gravity as formulated by Einstein, the gravitational field is not a field like the Electromagnetic Field of Maxwell – it is due to the topology of space-time.
    The Logunov Theory of Gravity does emulate Maxwell’s Theory of Electromagnetic Field with the graviton being the analogue of photon showing up explicitly as a mass term in the Field Equations of Logunov.
    For Quantum Mechanics to be consistent, graviton must exist since otherwise one could violate the uncertainty relations of Heisenberg.
    But the Einstein Theory of Gravity, which gives rise to Black Holes, cannot furnish such a consistent structure; graviton must be able to escape from Black Holes since outside of Black Holes space-time is flat, planets are going about their orbits in the usual manner etc.
    But this contradicts the other consequence of Black Holes, nothing can escape them – or so the theory states.
    There is a lot of lovely mathematics there but one cannot let oneself be seduced by Beauty in one’s search for Physical Truth.

  13. BabelFish says:

    And the Moties will be found some day, I hope.

  14. BabelFish says:

    It is very good, TTG. The best since Babylon 5.

  15. Jack says:

    TTG, Sir
    On the one hand the human in mankind hasn’t changed much in millenia. But our intellect and quest for discovery is something wonderful. I share your joy in these leaps. Currently, I am most fascinated by the enormous leaps in discovery in molecular biology. Read up on water bears and their ability to “repair” their damaged DNA if you get a chance.

  16. Dr. No says:

    1. I’d have to agree with Col Lang’s remark to Macgupta. Einstein’s theory puts gravitation on a completely different footing from what MacGupta understands: mass affects the fabric of spacetime (the curvature). If MacGupta’s way of thinking was “good enough” no one would have invented the GTR.
    2. I’m not competent to judge how seriously Logunov’s theory foresees gravitational waves and how well its equations fit the LIGO readings. The scientist announcing the result seemed to think that what was being validated was Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity (GTR) to a high degree of precision. Logunov’s theory is definitely a minority view.
    3. The curious thing is that Einstein’s GTR gets validated in a big way, and Quantum has been validated in big ways, but the two theories are no closer to being integrated the one into the other.

  17. doug says:

    There had been rumors of this but the fact they have enough data to go public and publish is astonishing and wonderful. BTW, Kip Thorne was my faculty adviser when I was an undergrad transitioning from physics to engineering. He recommended that I consider a small, startup company called Intel after graduation. Sadly, I didn’t.

  18. Some may learn yet to surf the gravity waves?

  19. Ken Roberts says:

    Babak, others … Thank you for mention of Logunov, whose relativisitic theory of gravity (RTG) I had not heard of previously. I am a novice in the field, so have no opinion re “which is right”. But wish to share this resource link, 250-ish page book by Logunov summarizing RTG, published 2002.
    One test method that Logunov suggests between GRT and RTG, is examining energy release from accretion of matter falling into a supermassive object. See page 7.
    Apropos of this: “There is a lot of lovely mathematics there but one cannot let oneself be seduced by Beauty in one’s search for Physical Truth.”
    Yes, but … Hundreds of times we have observed that the mathematics can be a guide to improved understanding. I suppect we may be speaking the wrong dialect of math, and that Nature is a geometer not an algebraist — but a few hundred years more post-Newton should suffice us to correct our course.

  20. Allen Thomson says:

    The discovery paper, which is quite well written and (mostly) not too demanding technically, is at
    BTW, the LIGO interferometers are fairly direct descendants of the much smaller instrument used in the 1887 Michelson-Morley experiments that preceded special relativity. SR, in turn, preceded general relativity and its prediction of gravitational waves.

  21. terze says:

    Oh boy… fully swallowed it, heh?
    This so-called experiment is just a big fallacy that relieved you of several bio- of taxpayer’s cash. Needless to say, there is no such things like “gravity waves” nor is space-time a “fabric”, nor can there be any “ripple” there.
    They just fudged this for the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s flawed theory to prop up their bad science. None of it makes any sense from the POV of real science and scientific method.
    To the guy above who mumbles about quantum equations and Maxwell – Maxwell was the very first guy who diverted from science and 9invented a fraud, by pulling “virtual particles” out of his most-valuable so he could fudge his flawed maths. Ever since, there are layers over layers of fraudulent theories built on top of each other – be it “gravity waves” or the whole quantum theoter, “black holes”, “dark matter” or whatever fiction of your choice. None of that is science, none of it is real.

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And we have watched as funding for Theoretical Physics being wasted on String Theory and its variants for over 30 years with nothing to show for it.
    It is clear that protons are not made of Strings….

  23. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to BabelFish 11 February 2016 at 11:53 PM
    Only if something along the lines of the solution in The Gripping Hand can be guaranteed that warrior caste gave me the creeps

  24. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to The Twisted Genius 11 February 2016 at 10:11 PM
    Your son is right – but do read the books first I think you’d probably enjoy them greatly.

  25. Don’t sail too close to the edge, terse, there be monsters.

  26. sillybill says:

    spacetime far from a black hole is not flat, merely more gently curved. this curvature is in fact what keeps all moons, planets, and stars in their orbits (according to Einsteins GTR)
    thanks for the info on Logunov, i’ll take a dive this weekend.

  27. Dubhaltach says:

    I find myself wondering what sort of posting we can persuade TTG to write for which the appropriate quotation fronting the piece would be either Ardrey’s description of the idyllic lives of the male howler monkeys. OR (even better) the passage describing howler monkey warfare. OR (best of all) the howler monkey’s attack on the unfortunate researcher. I always thought that the fact that he continued despite being well aware of what was going to happen showed true devotion to duty.

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “To the guy above who mumbles about quantum equations and Maxwell…”
    That would be me.
    And if I mumble, you are clearly & plainly delusional; the depth of your delusions only matched by the heights of your ignorance.
    Really Sir, please do not waste time…

  29. Aka says:

    The Twisted Genius,
    “My son speaks very highly of “The Expanse.” I’ll have to find a way to watch it without a cable subscription.”
    well sir that is why there are various online streaming sites. google watch series.

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not think I articulated my argument well.
    In the Einstein theory, in principle, there is not graviton – nor can a graviton be ejected from a Black Hole due to the strength of the gravitational field. As you say, the topology of space-time itself is altered and that accounts for the force of gravity.
    That is inconsistent with Quantum Mechanics because, in principle, one can conceive of very gentle space-time curvatures (gravitation fields) which could enable such measurements that are ruled out by the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Relation Principle.

  31. ked says:

    or even better, aether… or was it ether? either can get you off.

  32. hemeantwell says:

    Agreed on the Expanse. I first of the show at arstechnica.com, where they love it.

  33. Nick says:

    Love the Robert Ardrey quote- African Genesis was a mind-blower for me as well.
    Question: The New Yorker article (well worth reading btw) specifies: “Then, on September 14, 2015, at just before eleven in the morning, Central European Time, the waves reached Earth.”
    Does this mean that the waves, after hitting Earth, continue onward, making their impact on our planet a one-time event? In other words, if we had not been sufficiently evolved to build the LIGO, and/or if the LIGO device had been offline at the time in question, we would have missed this literally one in a billion year opportunity?

  34. Allen Thomson says:

    > This so-called experiment is just a big fallacy that relieved you of several bio- of taxpayer’s cash.
    An excellent parody of anti-AGW rhetoric. Congratulations!

  35. ked says:

    Gravity waves are ebbing & flowing constantly. Given the paucity of our detection instrumentation & techniques it takes a tsunami-scale event to trigger a detection.
    It’s good to live in our neighborhood of the Milky Way, kinda a quiet cul-de sac out in the suburbs. That’s allowed us the opportunity to live, evolve, create, contemplate… and fight over the house & yard.

  36. kao_hsien_chih says:

    This undergirds my idea of “science”: the more we find, the more we get confused, and the more we SHOULD get confused. The universe is a complex thing and it is a great hubris to think that we can understand it all–but also a blasphemy (I think anyways) that we should give up on trying to understand it and waste our God-given brains.

  37. kao_hsien_chih says:

    A fellow techer?! I was a Dave Politzer student when I was a frosh (and went farther away from physics than you–I wound up in econ!). What year did you graduate?

  38. rjj says:

    okay. so is it round or flat and, if round, what goes around what?

  39. Old Microbiologist says:

    This excellent experiment was an international effort which confirmed an earlier report done using a different methodology. A non-scientific write up of that research is here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/bridaineparnell/2014/06/24/higgs-boson-seems-to-prove-that-the-universe-doesnt-exist/#4fdcd5bd49d2
    It also doesn’t negate the theory that both space and time don’t exist or if they do not as we think. We are still just at the beginnings of this. Very cool stuff.

  40. Valissa says:

    Have had a few friends who have worked at Intel. They all hated it (not the technical work itself so much as the tyrannical work environment, though none were there in the beginning, it was probably better then than it is now. My indirect knowledge is from the ’90s onward in both OR and MA.
    The company seems to have a ‘manufacturing co. attitude’ toward their well educated and highly intelligent employees rather than the enlightened tech company treatment of employees typical of other well known high tech companies. One of my friends was on the premiere chip designing team for many years. He had to work ridiculous hours (80 hours per week at the peak of the design cycle and transfer over to manufacturing), as did they all, and in other parts of the cycle they worked merely 60 hours/wk. He goes back sometimes to play bridge at lunch time with his former coworkers and he spoke of people looking exhausted, pale, and worn. Since there aren’t very many places hiring chip designers there is no incentive for Intel to treat them better.

  41. Ken Roberts says:

    Well … don’t want to get too far afield … but maybe someone will want to generalize the following to military operations … I think there may be a relationship.
    What I’ve seen in physics, is that there can be fads and groupthink just as in other realms. And also, an unfortunate tendency to flow most funding through “big name” researchers — water the trees and parch the saplings. I would rather see a host of younger researchers or small teams given moderate funding, and let them “swarm” the problems including the problems we don’t even have on the list as recognized problems.
    My pet concern is the tremendous amounts of money = computer power devoted to QCD and similar calculations. I would like to see a percent or two of that funding go towards alternative methods, for example analog computations. Nature solves problems with soap bubbles, and at one point 60-70 years ago so did humans. I doubt that Nature uses an algebraic (or computational) method of determining resonances.
    Ok, over to military matters. I’ve been reading Westphal’s book “The German Army in the West”. He mentions the attack on Poland, leaving the French border essentially undefended — contradicting years of General Staff studies. But, France did not attack. Why? Perhaps just luck, and eventually the luck ran out … but I doubt that is the best explanation. Sometimes can benefit by digression from the accepted wisdom of the assembled best brains. At least as an exercise in game theory — don’t get too predictable in the game, whether it is against mysteries of Nature, or whatever.

  42. doug says:

    ’71. Toes were the daze. Probably the most influential prof was Middlebrook. Took EE114 as a sophomore and just loved/aced it. Quite remarkable way of showing when to use math and when not to in analog circuitry. Wound up using that knowledge to analyze a flawed design and redesign it with 2/3rds the parts. The device made the cover of EDN later that year. Jump started my career and love of electronics.

  43. ked,
    You and Nick are hitting on an aspect of this that intrigues me. If all objects exhibit the properties of gravity, then it follows that all objects cause gravitational waves as they interact with each other. Do these gravitational waves behave like waves in water creating new and different wave patterns as they cross each other or do they just pass through each other? Our technology now can detect only the waves of colliding black holes. What music will be revealed when our instruments can detect all the gravitational waves around us? Perhaps our minds, each more powerful than all the computers in the world combined, have the untapped ability to hear and interpret these symphonies of waves. These are some of the questions I ponder sitting in my gazebo on a starry night.

  44. kao_hsien_chih says:

    ’97. Started in physics, moved to math, eventually became an econ (grad school), and wound up in poli sci afterwards. 🙂

  45. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Well, every one have their tastes and preferences.
    In physics, there is no ab-initio theory of the nuclear structure; only partial and over-lapping patch work of approximate theories which do not fit into a coherent whole.
    Put another way, nothing like Rational Mechanics of Atomic Nucleus exists and certainly not even on the Horizon.
    Yet we are regaled with all these men who are trying to persuade us that we are living in a multiverse of colliding universes….
    Basic metallurgy is unfunded while navel-gazers of theoretical physics are jetting around Europe (like lovely Trieste) while others are eking out an existence working on low energy physics.
    In regards to France and why she did not attack: same reason that England did not attack when Saarland was occupied. Like ISIS today against the Shia Crescent, UK and France needed NAZIs against USSR.
    Do you think men with delusions of being “Masters of the Universe” did not exist then?

  46. ked says:

    The analogy of waves of water interfering & forming new patterns is apt, if not exact. Light diffraction & refraction patterns is another, perhaps closer to how gravity behaves … Moire patterns.
    I find useful Heisenberg’s insight about uncertainty… that as one approaches the edge of certainty about a detection, the techniques (instrumentation & processing) become interpenetrated with the phenomenon one is attempting to observe. Thus, one risks that the experiment itself “defines” the outcome. That’s why consensus about technique, validity of data & repeatability (esp among contending parties… a competition to establish knowledge) is so critical.
    Gravity is a weak force without a charge… it appears to be a unity rather than a force comprised of contending entities (positive & negative, wave or particle, Pinot or Cabernet…), or probability-based behaviors.
    Complex math & logic are critical tools, but (& I generalize) theoreticians sometimes conflate their tools with the phenomenon itself and conclude that “reality is just math…”. I’m not quite convinced. Let’s keep gathering data & building sensible, useful models that enable one to peer deeper into God’s nature. There are worse things humanity can occupy itself-with.
    Plato found a complete & unified God appealing… & monotheism seems quite satisfying & lasting. Maybe we are on the verge of a “God is Gravity” phase. I agree with you… gazing from the gazebo into the infinite is a pretty good experiment, & cost-effective to boot. You’ve convinced me to do some research this eve… instrumentation will be a corkscrew.

  47. doug says:

    That’s quite a change from physics though many a math major gets sucked into the financial industry vortex. Poly Sci? Much rarer. I bet that background gives you some rather different perspectives from your colleagues.

  48. doug says:

    I’ve done some of those 80+ hour weeks but I really loved the work. There’s something really exciting about doing cutting edge work. Actually, I consider myself very lucky not to go up to the Valley. Wound up in a small company where your efforts are visible and you learn about all the interactions between different parts of the organization. Much harder to do in larger places.
    Detecting gravity waves just boggles me. These are such tiny effects the instrumentation required has to be so sensitive it really stretches the limits of current science. Reminds me of some of the work with neutrino source detection. They interact so rarely with matter.

  49. optimax says:

    Bet you don’t believe men landed on the moon, that it was filmed by Stanley Kubrick.

  50. xtomixx says:

    Black holes exist in Newtonian Gravitational theory as well.
    Einstein’s last word on gravitational radiation, by the way, appeared in a paper written with his colleague Rosen (of EPR fame) and submitted to Physics Review D in the mid 1930’s. They proposed, as a result of their most recent investigations (all math, no experimental data) that Gravitational waves did NOT exist!!
    However the referee at the time, none other than Robertson of Cal Tech, rejected the paper.
    Einstein couldn’t live it down, and never submitted another paper to Physics Review, and swore that he never would! — he was angry.
    IMHO these latest reports, if they prove anything (which in the Einstein curved space model should be a property of gravity in all situations) only “prove” that when the two specific huge black holes as reported engulfed bits of each other, that instrument readings were received that these particular experimentalists interpreted, with all their hindsight into General relativity 101, as warps in space and time. It is not reproducible, and hence not science.
    Plus Einstein had given up on G waves as above, which properly has no bearing other than as a human interest factoid, but it says something, I’m not sure what, about the reporting.
    Many of the earlier “Gravitational Wave’ detectors were ‘dual use’ (though this was never said) in that were potentially VERY good seismic sensors for things such as earthquakes and nuke tests. Funny thing, they never found any gravitational waves with those detectors, but this was at least in great part because initially those frail human egotists were unable to do the correlation math correctly. (Two detectors were needed, each pointed at the center of the galaxy. And since the individual signals were too weak, they ran a time series correlation procedure on the two very weak signals). This they did quite incorrectly, and put the word out seeing as how maybe they deserved a Nobel prize, since these incorrectly calculated correlations fooled them into thinking they were seeing something.
    When the math was redone on these older experiments, zero correlation was found. The techniques being used in those to which y’all refer are significant refinements indeed. Still, I have my doubts, given the human ambitions/egos involved.

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, I have come to have my doubts about Higgs, Big Bang, the Cosmological Distance Ladder, and Neutrino Oscillations.
    I also want to be clear again that I also reject the hypothesis of human-caused global warming, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy and all of that Multi-verse clap-trap.

  52. Ken Roberts says:

    Babak … re men with delusions … yes, of course they have always existed. What intrigues me, though, is that Adolf Hitler seems to have guessed right twice, in the early years pre-WW2. Once with the withdrawal of most of army strength from west, near France, for the Poland invasion. And another early time, per von Mellenthin’s book “Panzer Battles”, pp xvi-xvii, when he supported proposals for mechanization and mobilization of calvary (not tied to troop movement). One can dismiss the latter as just going with a trend, clear perhaps to many techno-enthusiasts at the time, and supported by some of the army leadership; simply a matter of making an executive choice. Maybe not unlike the choices which Churchill made, to promote certain ideas and technologies. But, what about the France/Poland deployment risk? How did he “know” that a two-three month duration of leaving the French front undefended was safe? Just a compulsive risk-taker? Or is there something we can learn? Here at this website there is a lot of listening to “graviational waves”, shifts of mass within various state and sub-state groups, to anticipate probabilities.
    You mention metallurgy. I’m all for it. There seems an abundance of materials science work going on nowadays, so I’m not sure what you are referring to in terms of basic metallurgy being unfunded. I do think there are extraordinary opportunities for design of new materials, using computer assists. My soap bubble remark re the past was a reference to old-style metallurgical methods. And I do think there is not enough “just trying stuff out” due to the star system of funding research. But still, despite wanting more done, and maybe some rebalancing of resources, I think there is plenty of good materials work going on.

  53. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments:
    De Gaulle actually was the person who formulated and published the concept of mobile/mechanized armored warfare. It was ignored by the French War Ministry but was translated into German and studied by the German Army.
    I think France was defeated in World War II because of the way Democracy was practiced in that country.
    In regards to Metalurgy; yes – I agree that the opportunities are there but please take a look at what is available:
    Almost all the funding is coming from NSF – “Never Sufficient Funds”. Notice how money is also being spent on peripheral items such as software, women, global warming, undergraduate research, etc.?
    Where is funding for basic metallurgy?

  54. Ken Roberts says:

    Babak … Thanks for that info, about DeGaulle, and about NSF funding. “Where is the funding for basic metallurgy?” I think it, in NSF physics terms, would be found mostly in the “Condensed matter and materials theory” and “condensed matter physics” categories. There are other funding organizations, including industry, and NSF may give only a partial view. Going to each of those categories and clicking on “what has been funded” gives a list of projects. I see 341 awards in first category (theoretical), of which 305 were in $100-500K amount, so that is typical award size I think. In the second category (experimental), are shown 319 awards of which 229 in $100-500K range. I noticed Mildred Dresselhaus as principal investigator on one experimental award; she and her group at MIT have done and are doing great work. Incidentally, one of the people in her group, an Iranian woman, is one of the best of the many researchers who are working on thermoelectric materials.
    My first contention, is that there should be MANY more awards than just 1/million population. Hence much smaller amounts. More work to administer, more chance of ineffectiveness unless review process is perhaps augmented with coaching and mentoring, but I would like to see some sustained (multi-year) support for new entrants and those who are not at “centers of excellence”. The theory vs experiment split is not bad, looks like maybe 50-50, and industrial and development work is probably more experimental so overall maybe 20-80 theory vs experiment. I had a long chat with a senior superconductivity researcher recently, and he observed that the Chinese have moved into the vacuum left by the relative abandonment of experimental superconductivity work by western labs. Computer models are not sufficient to discover the many novel opportunties provided by real materials. Chinese labs are also doing excellent experimental work on thermoelectric materials. Maybe the perception of competition will get someone off duff?
    Interesting chat. I’m going to sign off this topic now; drifting off the themes of SST. Thanks for this conversation and your many thought-provoking posts.

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Metallurgy & Material Science are separate departments than physics. To the extent that money goes to Condensed Matter Physics, it is taken from Metallurgy and Material Science.

  56. terze says:

    @ yes Babak, “mumble” was the term and I mean it seriously.
    Just FYI, I am working in the field of science and I was always an A student in both Maths and Physics. Exactly that is the reason why I can laugh so heartily about this fudge they’re trying to sell as “science”. It does not resemble science in any way. The method is faulty, the results are faulty and the interpretation is simply bad fiction.
    What they found was some seismic or magnetic fluctuation and nothing more. The rest is just theater and not even funny if you are indeed a scientist watching this dog-and-pony show.

  57. terze says:

    @ ked: you are mentioning aether? They would certainly like to have it, since with it they could indeed have a medium for “waves”.
    But please then, you tell me – what is “waving” there? According to Einstein himself, Gravity is not a wave or force with material properties, but just a curve in space.
    And already here this “discovery” dies a painful death.

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    No, in that theory, space is endowed with “quiddity” – per the ideas of Duns Scotus – please see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haecceity

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