9 June 2012

No Higgs would be the end of string theory

In a month from now, we will hear, at the ICHEP conference whether the LHC has confirmed the 125 GeV Higgs signal. String theorists are trembling!

If the Higgs is not confirmed, then supersymmetry cannot be correct. And if supersmmetry is not correct, string theory is not correct. What a wonderful occasion for nature to show us the way. After 40 years, all these funny string theorists will hear from nature. Nature will finally tell them, for the first time in their life. Will string theorists jump around laughing and happy, or will they collectively run to their therapists? Will they finally see the fruit of their labours, or will they fall into depression?

Maybe nature will not tell us? Maybe CERN will only publish a result like the following: "There remains an open window from 120 to 130 GeV. In between we do not have enough data."

Or, maybe, one of the founders of string theory will come up, like Marcel Duchamp, and tell: "All I did was just a joke!"

Or maybe, string theorists will find a reason, overlooked for 40 years, that string theory is possible even without a Higgs boson?

Great times ahead!


  1. Clara,

    It is going to take at least one generation of theorists to seriously consider all anomalies related to the SM, as they are piling up on us as on a daily basis. There is no quick solution in sight for the hierarchy problem, for the magnitude of CP violation seen in Nature, for the strong CP problem, for neutrino masses and oscillations, anomalous magnetic moment of charged leptons and for the emergence of twenty some free parameters in SM. Not to mention Dark Matter and the cosmological constant puzzles. There is also no reliable explanation for the Wjj anomaly, CDF multi-muons, PAMELA excess of positrons, BaBar excesses in heavy quark decays and so on.

    Conservative theorists try to evade difficult questions by making naive assumptions on the validity of Quantum Field Theory well above the electroweak scale. In my view, all these problems point to something foundational that is missing from the picture. But the establishment is nowhere near accepting the failure of our fundamental principles.

  2. Ervin,

    I agree an most points and on your general idea that we need a new basis for field theory.

    But: most of the problems you mention are "invented" by people that are desperate for problems. I never found a good paper showing that the magnitude of CP was wrong - it looks like a problem where none might exist; the strong CP problem is clearly an invention of desperate theorists; and there is no anomalous magnetic problem to be taken seriously. Also the Wjj anomaly, CDF multi-muons, PAMELA excess of positrons, BaBar excesses are pseudo-problems.

    The true problems are the 20 unknown parameters and the lack of a calculation of the vacuum energy from field theory that matches reality. These are real issues. The rest is wishful thinking.

    Why can't people solve the real problems instead of inventing new ones?

  3. Clara,

    I am not sure we are on the same page. It's easy to brush off some discrepancies between predictions and experiment pretending they don't exist. But these issues will never go away until reliable explanations are found. The magnitude of CP violation in the CKM matrix underestimates the magnitude of baryon asymmetry, deviations of the magnetic moment of leptons from theory possibly demand physics beyond SM (no sign yet) and it is unclear why Nature severely breaks CP symmetry in EW interactions while protecting QCD. The hierarchy problem associated with the singular behavior of the Higgs scalar remains outstanding and it is also unclear where all the experimental anomalies that I alluded to come from.

    By the way, do you agree that discovery of the Higgs will instantly refute the strand model?

  4. Yes, I think that the strand model is wrong if the Higgs is found.