Friday, December 18, 2009

Scientists are Careful and Responsible

Tom Whyntie, a physicist at the LHC, commented on the possible detection of Dark Matter by a rival experiment. Note that he is respectful of them, and also points out the importance that independent experiments have in verifying discoveries.

Dark matter appears to be responsible for over 80% of the mass of the Universe, but we have not yet discovered any, despite much evidence suggesting it exists. So there would be huge prestige for any scientist who discovered it.

Most people never realize how careful and responsible scientists are, as despite intense rivalries they fully appreciate the need for cooperation.

The quoted article gives a good insight into what makes good science practice.
In a very real, technical sense, the answer is no (and, of course, I'm not just saying that because I work on the LHC!). The observation of "only" two events does not a discovery make, and CDMS very carefully and responsibly state this in their announcements -- not because of modesty, but because they are good scientists. Statistics, to put it mildly, are tricky at the best of times and pretty much a nightmare when it comes to discoveries. They are very rightly exercising caution. It's how science works.

No comments:

Post a Comment