Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Is About To Fly

With a few days left before takeoff, space shuttle Endeavour's last flight will carry with it the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer that will, finally, turn the International Space Station into a scientifically-significant facility, rather than a glorious piece of orbiting "motel".

This news article highlights this upcoming event, but it started out all wrong.

Scientists believe anti-matter exists, and they said the alpha magnetic spectrometerhas been packed away in the space shuttle Endeavour in search for it.

Er... hello? We don't just believe that anti-matter exists. We KNOW they do, or else the Tevatron has been colliding imaginary particles, and PET scans is based on hypothetical ideas.

Providing evidence for the existence of antimatter is NOT what the AMS is for. It is a lot more subtle than that. The AMS webpage (link given earlier in this blog entry) should tell you what it is for. News article like this does a disservice because it makes it sound as if antimatter is still something unverified, and that "scientists" merely "believe" in its existence.



Sarai Pahla said...

Ha ha ha! The trouble is that in the secular (if you'll pardon my use of the world, as I refer not to religion but physics) world there is a complete lack of understanding as to what antimatter even is - the very idea goes unexplained in almost every article I have read. They neglect to mention the mathematical foundations necessary to understand the significance of antimatter. Also they don't understand experiments AT all - I mean, I know people who think that an experiment like AMS would take a few hours or days. But enough bitching, I have to go back and read your post and laugh.

Thomas Barton, J.D. said...

I think you both are being far too harsh on this..That article was from a local Orlando newspaper. It is very easy to find articles for laymen such as Popular Science.

ZapperZ said...

But that's the whole point of my complaint. The fact that it IS from a local newspaper (not on someone's webpage) and that it is read by the public means that these mistakes are MORE SERIOUS. The public doesn't know any better, and such article with that kind of inaccuracies does more harm than good.

Besides, is it too much of a stretch and effort to make an accurate statement? It doesn't require any more education than the error that has been stated.