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PG&E brings shame on themselves

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I read with interest Dr. Sharma’s commentary on PG&E and the proposed neutrino experiment (“Science deserves better,� March 10-17). I must say his words confuse me at best.

He seems to think that we are shaming PG&E into cooperating. In reality, what was described in New Times were arguments in favor of the experiment, including good basic science. U.S. corporations apparently need to see a monetary bottom line; in this case the bottom line is helping society — clearly not monetary.

As for a public forum, this has happened already. In March of 2004 there was a two-day workshop at Cal Poly involving scientists from all over the world. In the evenings, there were public talks on neutrino science. I don’t know what else can be done in terms of workshops, and I am sorry that Dr. Sharma missed it. To their credit, there were even PG&E employees in attendance.

Lastly, on the issue of how Mr. Hyatt explained the science, the truth is that quantum physics (because it describes the behavior of unimaginably small objects) is not intuitive. There is nothing wrong with a stick-and-ball model of the atom, if you realize it is only an analogy to help our brain think about the microscopic world.

If he wants accuracy in science reporting, I suggest that Dr. Sharma review his modern elementary particle physics.

If PG&E feels they needn’t bother with this experiment, so be it. Likely this is what will happen. And if it doesn’t happen, the shame is, truly, on them.

 

Dr. Tony Buffa

Physics department, Cal Poly

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