Can Everyone Get on With Their Normal Jobs Now?

A question asked over at The Great Beyond

A while back I ran across a blog post about the “dangers” of Bose-Einstein Condensates — the purported great peril of a “Bosenova” explosion happening in liquid He, and wrote a post about the various misconceptions that were present. Malcolm Fairbairn and Bob McElrath wrote a response to this that is now available at arXiv. There is no explosion risk associated with superfluid Helium in the LHC cooling system
(Yeah, that will calm the conspiracy fruitcakes)

Liquid 4He has a monatomic structure with s-wave
electrons, zero nuclear spin, no hyperfine splitting, and as a consequence no
Feshbach resonance which would allow one to change its normally repulsive
interactions to be attractive. Because of this, a Bose-Nova style collapse
of 4He is impossible. Additional speculations concerning cold fusion during
these events are easily dismissed using the usual arguments about the
Coulomb barrier at low temperatures, and are not needed to explain the
Bose-Einstein condensate Bose-Nova phenomenon. We conclude that that
there is no physics whatsoever which suggests that Helium could undergo
any kind of unforeseen catastrophic explosion.

It turns out that there’s more of this fumbling and bumbling out there that I had missed. Collider Incidents at LHC Facts (Not sure why “Facts” isn’t in scare quotes) takes things to a new level. There are responses from both Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman (and another researcher) that clarify some of the technical jargon and other statements that have been so badly mangled, and the wingnut conclusion is that the scientists are just covering up!

“I can state ABSOLUTELY CATEGORICALLY that it is totally inconceivable that a black hole could be produced by these phenomena.”
Methinks Dr. Wieman doth protest TOO MUCH…
There are many physicists who can not only conceive it but believe it too. Not too mention those of us with “a terrible ignorance of physics” but an abundance of common sense.


What I’d really like to know, and maybe you can find out, is if the ‘Bosenova’ was such a fantastic experiment that raised so many interesting questions why they don’t fire them up all the time. Seems like they would want to keep repeating the experiment wouldn’t they? Unless, of course, they did make a stable MBH, they know it, and they’re scared. They sound scared.

Funny, but not really “ha, ha” funny.

There’s a nice takedown of this, and the original nonsense article by Alan Gillis, over at The Physics Anti-Crackpot Blog. There will be no Bose-Novae at the LHC

So this claim of Gillis & Rössler is completely and totally specious. Any responsible researcher, before making a claim that something will explode like a nuclear bomb, should look up the relevant physics, to see if his idea makes sense. In this case, Rössler or Gillis didn’t even take the first step to see how a Bose-Nova works, and if his proposal is even remotely reasonable. The two crackpots in this story reinforce each other, neither checking their facts. It’s odd here that the “journalist” originates a crackpot idea, asks it of a crackpot, and of course he agrees. Crackpots are not in the business of proving or disproving things.

Given the above article, I don’t think Alan Gillis should be allowed anywhere near the term “journalist”, but I think the term “crackpot” certainly applies. A good journalist, when hearing such a dangerous claim, should call up a few more physicists, to see if this guy is a crackpot, or whether this issue has any credibility in the scientific community. Perhaps he should also contact people who have done or mathematically explained Bose-Nova experiments (as Fairbairn and McElrath apparently did — judging by their acknowledgments they contacted one of the original Bose-Nova experimenters, Elizabeth Donley).

But as we can see above, getting in contact with people who know — really know — what they are talking about doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot. To them, you either agree with the wingnuts or you are part of a coverup, trying to deceive the public. Which is why it can be frustrating to talk science with some people.

The World Will Not End, Thanks to a Technicality

I’m sorry, this is abuse. You want 12A, next door.

Day of reckoning for doomsday lawsuit

Basically the decision came down to an issue of jurisdiction: Wagner and a co-plantiff made their claim under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). But NEPA only applies to “major federal actions,” and the judge said that the US contribution to the LHC (US$531 million or about 10% of the overall cost) was too small to constitute a major federal project.