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> Nowadays there's a certain danger of the same thing happening (not repeating experiments), even in the famous field of physics. I was shocked to hear of an experiment done at the big accelerator at the National Accelerator Laboratory, where a person used deuterium. In order to compare his heavy hydrogen results to what might happen with light hydrogen, he had to use data from someone else's experiment on light, hydrogen, which was done on different apparatus. When asked why, he said it was because he couldn't get time on the program (because there's so little time and it's such expensive apparatus) to do the experiment with light hydrogen on this apparatus because there wouldn't be any new result. And so the men in charge of programs at NAL are so anxious for new results, in order to get more money to keep the thing going for public relations purposes, they are destroying--possibly--the value of the experiments themselves, which is the whole purpose of the thing. It is often hard for the experimenters there to complete their work as their scientific integrity demands.

-- Richard Feynman, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman", pp. 225-226




Current top comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12186295 , specifically rebutted 30 years before the comment was written.


This isn't a rebuttal of the linked comment.

The linked comment doesn't state that it would be a waste of time to replicate on a hypothetical LHC clone.

Rather, the linked comment states that we can accept the Higgs result with reasonable confidence even though it's currently infeasible to replicate that experiment.

Feynman's issue was also qualitiatively different -- the scientist was comparing results from two different instruments. The people in charge of one of the instruments wouldn't allow the scientist to run both experiments on a single instrument. In fact, from context, it's not even clear to me Feynmann would have insisted on re-running the original experiment if the scientist were not using a different accelerator for the second one. Anyways, in the Higgs case, there's no potential for a "comparing readings from instrument A to readings from instrument B" type bug.

More to the point, and FWIW, I somehow doubt Feynman would insist on building a second LHC for the sole purpose of replicating the Higgs measurement. But I guess we have to leave that to pure speculation.




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