Preposterous Universe

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Looks like American soldiers are once again allowed to walk around London, after a brief period in which they were forbidden to do so right after the bombings. No such luck for the physicists here at Saclay -- word has come down from on high that nobody is allowed to travel to England for the time being, presumably out of fear of further attacks. This is quite a disruption, as the big SUSY 2005 conference is being held in Durham next week.

Any counter-terrorism experts out there are welcome to correct me, but this strategy seems exactly wrong. I would guess that the time right after an attack is the absolutely safest time to travel. Surely, everyone riding a bus or the Tube in London is going to be just as jumpy and suspicious in the weeks to come as Americans taking airplanes were after September 11. Not only would it be much harder to carry off an attack, but the terrorists undoubtedly know this themselves, and it seems unlikely that they would even try.

I won't even bother to point out that, even including the successful attacks that have already occurred, the likelihood of being killed by terrorists is completely negligible compared to more mundane forms of danger. Death by subway bombing is so dramatic and horrible that it's hard not to worry about it far out of proportion to the actual threat (much like comparing sharks to vending machines). So some bureaucrats in Paris (or wherever) will feel assured that they are doing their job if they prohibit scientists from traveling to Britain. After some time passes, they will decide that the danger has diminished, and we can resume talking about important things, like the predicted abundance of neutralino dark matter candidates in various supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

Preposterous Home
Atom Site Feed (xml)
RSS Feed
Technorati Profile
Bloglines Citations
Blogroll Me

About Last Night
Alas, a Blog
The American Sector
Asymmetrical Information
Big Brass Blog
Bitch, Ph.D.
Body and Soul
Brad DeLong
Chris C Mooney
Collision Detection
Creek Running North
Crescat Sententia
Crooked Timber
Daily Kos
Daniel Drezner
Deepen the Mystery
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Dynamics of Cats
Electron Blue
Ezra Klein
The Fulcrum
Girls Are Pretty
Jacques Distler
James Wolcott
John and Belle
Julie Saltman
Lawyers, Guns and Money
Leiter Reports
The Loom
Matt McIrvin
Matthew Yglesias
Michael Bérubé
Michael Nielsen
Mixing Memory
Mr. Sun
Not Even Wrong
Obsidian Wings
Orange Quark
Paige's Page
Panda's Thumb
Playing School, Irreverently
Political Animal
The Poor Man
Quantum Diaries
Quark Soup
Real Climate
Roger Ailes
Rox Populi
Shakespeare's Sister
Simple Stories
Sisyphus Shrugged
Smijer & Buck
TPM Cafe
Uncertain Principles
Volokh Conspiracy

Powered by Blogger
Comments by Haloscan
RSS Feed by 2RSS.com

February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005