Thursday, 14 April 2011
Neutrinos - what's the point, eh?
The picture above is of Super Kamiokande, a solar and atmospheric neutrino detector in Japan.
Listening to the the blessed Melvyn this morning on In Our Time and he has this wonderful programme about neutrinos, of which I understand about 10% but am spellbound by the other 90%, when it occurs to me that this is not about what an economist like, say, Mr Gradgrind (who was keen on facts and numbers) would regard as utilitarian science. How much is a neutrino worth nowadays? Damn things are so small and useless they don't even have mass! They just slip through the universe - not to mention our bodies - in their billions and fail to do anything at all. Not an ounce of help with the GDP and will do nothing to get the economy moving. What's the point of them?
If there is anything more useless than the arts (I mean apart from the paying customers and tourism) it must be the neutrino. And would you believe it, there are professors in our publicly-funded overpaid universities, who are digging enormous holes and filling them with really expensive chambers just so they can catch a stray neutrino. And what do they do with it when they've get it? You can't sell them. No-one is going to buy a neutrino, not in today's market.
Those scientists in their ivory towers had better get off the public payroll quick. Take their Arts Council grants away. Might as well give them to poets for all the use they are.
ps Not to confused with band of the same name, or the Brazilian footballer Neutrinho.