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Robert McPherson
Works at Institute of Particle Physics
Attended Princeton University
Lives in Vancouver, BC


Robert McPherson

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ATLAS and the LHC are back in business! Just had first high energy collisions from the LHC in ATLAS. We're back in business after our long two year shutdown, running at nearly twice the energy and soon at much higher intensities.

Robert McPherson

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PR seems to matter, even in science, doesn't it?
Fans have rallied to buy the lab of inventor and electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla to turn it into a museum. But why do so few people appreciate the importance of Tesla's work?
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Tesla has a very dedicated fan base. Try suggesting publicly that Marconi had anything to do with the invention of radio... 

Robert McPherson

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I recall when so-called "cold-fusion" was claimed in 1989 or-so. In Vancouver, then TRIUMF director Eric Vogt was a local solid voice of reason, pointing out in a Vancouver Sun op-ed piece that we really did understand very generally the ways that fusion could occur in the fantastically well tested formalist called quantum mechanics, and we could estimate with strong confidence the probability of fusion occurring in the experimental setup being used at that time (a palladium electrode, if I recall). Eric strongly supported, and supports, basic research and challenges to the so-called laws of physics -- but sometimes we know that, for example, if someone bounces a tennis ball on a street in Vancouver and claims that it rebounded up and over Grouse Mountain on one hop that they have very likely misunderstood something rather fundamental about what they saw.

In the past few days, Eric has been quoted regarding the possibility of fusion occurring in a local company's setup:
I admit that, when I read the article, I was skeptical, particularly because of the distinct misunderstanding of fusion demonstrated by the head of the company. However, as a scientist, I always attempt to suspend my skepticism and consider the claims being made.

Be clear: fusion is not "safe". It produces significant numbers of (difficult to shield and dangerous) neutrons, and also short-lived radioactive byproducts that live up to a decade or so and are dangerous if ingested, breathed in, etc. Don't get me wrong, fusion is a highly desirable form of energy production because it does not produce long-lived (scale of thousands of years) waste like conventional fission reactors, but anyone who would stand beside a running fusion reactor does not understand how it works at all. Eric's description of the possibilities are unassailable: it's unlikely to work, and if it does work (meaning create fusion) then there will be a large number of short-lived and dangerous radioactive byproducts, and whether or not it works the description of the apparatus sound like a prescription for a conventional (non nuclear) accident that should spark the interest of the BC workers' compensation board. Responsible scientists and engineers can only laud Eric Vogt's willingness to speak out responsibly, and should all do the same. It is part of our job, especially those of us who are publicly funded researchers working for the benefit of Canadian society.

Robert McPherson

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His imagination and humour made a unique package. He will be missed.

British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett has died, with tweets posted to his Twitter account in the style of deathly passages from one of his hilarious books.

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British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett has died, with tweets posted to his Twitter account in the style of deathly passages from one of his hilarious books.

Robert McPherson

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A rather balanced article on the issue of CERN association for non member states by Burt Richter.
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Robert McPherson

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The "BEHHGK" boson just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?
Particle physicist
Principal Investigator of Canadians working on ATLAS at the CERN LHC.  Active in kids sports: Jericho Baseball and Vancouver United FC soccer.
  • Princeton University
    Particle Physics, 1989 - 1995
  • UBC
    Engineering Physics, 1985 - 1989
  • Lord Byng Secondary
    1977 - 1982
  • Southlands Elemenary
    1973 - 1977
  • Queen Elisabeth Annex
    1969 - 1973
Basic Information
Professor, Principal Research Scientist
  • Institute of Particle Physics
    Principal Research Scientist, 1997 - present
  • University of Victoria
    Professor, 1997 - present
  • CERN
    Scientific Associate, 1996 - 1997
  • CERN
    Project Associate, 2000 - 2001
  • CERN
    Scientific Associate, 2004 - 2005
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Vancouver, BC
Vancouver, BC - Princeton, NJ - Upton, NY - St.Genis-Pouilly, France - Thoiry, France