22 December 2012

The news of the season

Another year has passed, and no final theory has surfaced.

But numerous papers still appeared about the multiverse, about supersymmetry, about string theory, about the aether, about matrix models, and about additional fairytales that are in contrast to experiment.

One day, we will laugh about these papers. We will laugh about the misguided intensity of the authors, about these men who are so "dead serious", so hundred per cent  "certain", and feel so "important".

It was a year of pompous research.


  1. Clara,

    Many would claim that 2012 was the year of the Higgs boson. Personnaly, I am troubled that so many theorists jump the bandwagon and declare with 100% confidence that the scalar resonance seen at the LHC is indeed the SM Higgs or some non-Standard incarnation of the Higgs boson. But, as Matt Strassler has rightly pointed out, while the evidence that we have today is very strong, it is certainly not overwhelming. There are still some loose ends in these searches, like the excess rate in the di-gamma channel and the twin-peaks signal seen in ATLAS. It is likely that these "weak" anomalies will clear up with more data, but there is no absolute guarantee that this will turn out to be the case. We are told with unsurpassed confidence by many bloggers (Phil Gibbs, for instance) that we are prejudiced nay-sayers and that by the next HEP conference (MORIOND), LHC will be able to officially acknowledge the discovery of the Higgs. This may be true, but even so, what about the heavy baggage of unanswered questions related to the Higgs sector? How can one accept that the discovery of the Higgs will truly unveil the mechanism of electroweak symmetry breaking? What if the scalar resonance seen at the LHC is not a SM Higgs, but some sort of Bose-Einstein condensate of W, Z bosons that has nothing to do with the Higgs boson?...and so on.

    Your opinion on this matter would be appreciated.



  2. Ervin,

    I tend to think that the Higgs exists, even if CERN is making many PR mistakes. At least, I hope for then that it exists. We will know the rest in March!

  3. Clara,

    There is little doubt that some form of scalar resonance has been discovered at CERN. It may very well be the SM Higgs, as the evidence tends to strongly suggest today. My issue is, however, the large set of conceptual problems that the SM Higgs opens up: the fine-tuning problem, the triviality problem, Veltman's argument that the Higgs condensate would shrink the observable Universe to the size of a football, the fact that a single Higgs boson cannot explain the mechanism of CP violation in SM, the violation of conformal symmetry induced by the Higgs mass and so on.
    There are simply too many things that do not add up...

  4. I agree. I will say more in my next post.