Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CERN Head Censors Scientific Thinking

“Don’t interpret the CLOUD experiment results”
The chief of the world’s leading physics lab at CERN in Geneva has prohibited scientists from drawing conclusions from a major experiment. The CLOUD (“Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets”) experiment examines the role that energetic particles from deep space play in cloud formation. CLOUD uses CERN’s proton synchrotron to examine nucleation.

CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer told Welt Online that the scientists should refrain from drawing conclusions from the latest experiment.

“I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them,” reports veteran science editor Nigel Calder on his blog. Why?

Because, Heuer says, “That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.”
We can be pretty sure if the results contradicted the theory that cosmic rays served to seed clouds, and that times of low solar activity had high levels of cloud production, and cooler average temperatures as a result, they'd leap to get that speculation in press.  I've never heard of the head of a lab telling someone not to speculate on the implications of their research before.  Certainly, speculation should follow at least a modest logic chain, but for a lab head to forbid speculation suggests that he thinks that the speculation to be done would point in a direction that would bring less favorable press, and less grant money to the institution.

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