Planck E PressCenter Articles

The Devil and the Mirror

Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Date published: 2023-09-11
Date modified: 2023-09-11
Reading time: 00:01:06

Author: Patrizia Tomasi-Bensik

The Devil and the Mirror

“The particle exists because the experiment confirms it.

The experiment is valid because it found the particle.

George Johnson


There is a saying that the devil tinkered with his son's nose so much that he bent it.  Contemporary high-energy physics is not much different.

In particle accelerators, which are getting bigger, more expensive, and more sophisticated, the data produced is much larger than what can be processed, even though it is analyzed by computers programmed to make inferences from the data that scientists deem relevant.

In other words, scientists set parameters that are passed on to programmers who create algorithms for computers that find... what?

In this immense chasm that exists between the mind of a theoretical physicist and the results obtained by the computer, it may well be that important signals are discarded, and classified as noise.

Going further, we may be building machines of such complexity that we ourselves do not understand them.

In a frank confusion between map and territory, we conduct experiments that testify to the functioning of the machines that make their achievements possible.  Many times we repeat exactly the same experiment in two different particle accelerators, and if the results differ, we build a third machine that specifically deals with the elimination of what caused the discrepancy.

So we get so deep into the part that we completely forget the whole, and instead of studying Nature, we are just Narcissus, finding ugly what is not a mirror.

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