The results from CERN’s CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets) experiment were awaited eagerly. Many years in preparation, and not without controversy, it has been followed through its funding issues, construction and operation. Earlier this year it was rumoured to have completed its first stage of experiments, and that the results were interesting. It was no one-man crusade, 63 scientists from 17 institutions were involved. It was serious stuff. This is CERN, probably the greatest concentration of scientists on the planet, over 6,000 of them. More incidentally, that contributed to the IPCC report.
We have reported the main scientific findings here
Even before the results were published in Nature they courted controversy. In a move only made by those inexperienced, or ill-advised, in media matters CERN’s Director General, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, said several weeks before the results were presented that CERN scientists should only describe
them and not interpret them as, “that would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.”
To advise scientists, publically, not to interpret scientific results, especially when the experiment is in an area of great interest, and given that the results were so clear-cut, is extraordinary. Heuer’s statement did nothing to prevent such speculation and only highlighted how important the results were. It was a classic media mistake. In effect it told the world that the results were significant and they did bear on climate science.