Friday, October 03, 2008

JFK's Murder Solved by SMU Physics? - Follow-Up

I received an e-mail from the SMU News and Communications office regarding a Letter to the Editor that was written due to the story on the JFK Murder and LHC that I posted earlier.

When talking to a Daily Campus writer, we wanted to communicate that the work our students are associated with can have surprising consequences. We mentioned that a former SMU graduate student, Vitaliy Fadeyev, was working at California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory several years ago when he developed an unusual application for sound recording preservation and analysis that the National Archives thought could be used for analysis of a recording made in the moments JFK was shot. Vitaliy was working on the ATLAS detector for the Berkeley Lab at the time, and saw some parallels between that work and sound scanning of old recordings.

The headline in your Oct. 2 story leads one to believe the SMU Physics Department may have solved JFK's murder. We have not. The story further implies that SMU's ongoing work on the LHC project and the ATLAS detector may help with analyzing more details about the day the president was shot. This is a leap of logic that we did not communicate to the reporter.

That should clear things up.

The problem here is that the writer of that piece just simply had no understanding of basic physics. At some level, you have to know something about what you are writing, or else you make very strange logic in your reasoning. And as we can see, it makes for a very puzzling article. One has to realize that a large cross-section of people will read it, especially when it's available online. Sooner or later, such errors will be pointed out and may come back to haunt you.


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