Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Large Hadron Collider

Well, the world didn't implode upon itself today. Not that there was any real danger of it.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, there's a monstrous physics machine deep underground somewhere in Europe that started humming today. It flings protons at each other at ridiculous speeds, allowing scientists to conduct experiments that would be otherwise impossible.

This is a collection of images of the collider and the monument constructed above it. This is an article from yesterday, regarding the firing-up of the machine and the best and worst possible outcomes of the experiments, with respect to several major laws of physics.

I rather doubt that any physical laws will be destroyed in the near future, but it's certainly happened in the past. Once, it was simply the truth that the world was flat. And it was a pretty big deal when that changed. But we survived, and we can do so again.

What's really interesting to note is that scientific and mathematical discoveries are copyrighted. Or patented, at least. You can't go around claiming that you invented the lightbulb or that you discovered pi. If any of the scientists working at the LHC prove or disprove any major laws of physics, credit's all theirs. The easiest way to keep track of such things is my naming their new laws and discoveries after them. Pythagorean triangles, Newtonian physics, the Galileian moons...

The difference between this protection and the realm of copyright, however, is a big one. The problem with copyright is that nobody wants to claim rights to the music or the books. They don't want to say that it's their own creative property. They just want copies of it. They want to enjoy someone else's creative property without necessarily giving credit to the other person for making it. That's like... implementing a pythagorean triplet but not citing Pythagoras. It's really not a big deal in the mathematical world. It happens all the time, and it's never a problem.

Why can't literature be more like math? Probably because math is free to practice, and literature usually isn't. But isn't that what libraries are for? Libraries are a wonderful concept. You don't have to pay for books, you can simply read them. I think they should be somehow expanded to the digital world. Online libraries, storing music and videos and digital media, that you can cite and look at, but you cannot copy. Perhaps it is an idealistic concept, but it's certainly a good one. The biggest problem with it is that is still does not cover the issue of remixes. When is it okay for someone to edit another person's work? Is it?

I think it is, as long as credit is given to the original author, but only for the original work.


levnclf said...

Very interesting. I think that there is a difference between science and art. Art is more or less in the control of the artist and is used to say something. Scientists are relatively passive observers when compared to artists. True it takes years of research and education to make a discovery, but the second a scientist or any other person manipulates nature and it's laws for his or her purpose they become an artist.

HAYNE said...

I'd like to think science is an art, but not always vice versa. Science is (hopefully) conducted to enrich and advance everyone (Edison probably didn't create the light bulb for his exclusive use, etc). It is a presentation of fact.Depending on the nature of the discovery, science can be very artistic (how pretty DNA structure is, discovered by Watson and Crick).
On the other hand, art on a whole is more of a mode of self-expression. It is a presentation of opinion. While one may agree with another's opinion and/or appreciate it; it's illegal to claim that particular presentation as your own. Unless it's not copyrighted.. then whatever.

As for the large hadron collider: CERN's at it again, except this time their research is going to cost us the earth being swallowed by a huge black hole, and we're going to pop out into another dimension.

Corey Laub said...

i read about the LHC during political science class, sounds pretty interesting. i think science is for discovery while art is for something along the lines of enjoyment

patrick morrison said...

science is done for the betterment of mankind; to increase our understanding of the world in which we live. Scientists (well at least a majority of them) dont go into the field or the lab with the hopes of making millions discovering a new element (though certainly not to say that science doesn't "pay off"), scientists have the progress of mankind at heart. In many cases, art is about making money, certainly mainstream commercial art. The point is, scientists would love to see students studying their discoveries without paying a royalty. The same cannot be said about entertainment artists.