12 January 2013

SM and TOE Fantasies by Moderates

Matt Strassler is a moderate. Nevertheless, he thinks, like most of his colleagues, that the standard model is wrong. He gives the following reasons (I cite from his slides):

1 – Gravity not included   (though can be included at semiclassical level)
2 – Neutrino masses not zero   (though higher dimension operators)
3 – Dark matter not predicted   (though primordial black holes?)
4 – Strong CP problem not addressed
5 – Cosmological constant (“dark `energy’”) not predicted/explained
6 – Specific choices of particles and interactions
7 – Mass ratios and mixings, strengths of forces all put in by hand

The problem: all seven arguments are correct statements, but none of them implies that the standard model is wrong!

This shows: even moderate physicists are brainwashed. They cannot distinguish between reality and wishes. The reality is that the standard model works without a glitch. The wish is that it is wrong. This might well be one reason why all the researchers searching for a theory of everything (TOE) are not successful. They are led too much by their wishes, and not by reality.


  1. Clara,

    Strassler is NOT saying that the Standard Model is wrong. He is stating that it is INCOMPLETE, which is 100% true.

  2. Ervin,

    Strassler never says anything specific about anything. But he clearly implies that the standard model is wrong at a few TeV. Strassler is an expert at making no clear statements about anything.

    Even moderates such as Strassler state that there is physics beyond the standard model. But there is no evidence for this. No experimental evidence and and almost no theoretical evidence.

    We do need a mechanism to set the parameters of the standard model. But there is no necessity and no evidence that this mechanism also leads to physics beyond the standard model.

    1. Clara,

      To be honest, I think that you are too harsh on Strassler.

      He correctly points out that we only have analyzed about 10% of the LHC data at 60% of the max center-of-mass energy that the LHC can deliver (13 TeV). Strassler is cautious about making predictions a way or another at this point and I cannot blame him for this stance.



  3. Ervin,

    just to be a bit provoking to you and the researchers out there: there is no evidence that a combination of the standard model and general relativity is incomplete. There is a wish for this, but no evidence.

    1. Clara,

      Like with many other open questions, it is not surprising that opinions are divided on this issue as well. Asymptotic safety of gravity in the far ultraviolet sector, the very survival of the Standard Model beyond the low TeV scale, perturbative non-renormalizability of Quantum Gravity remain unresolved puzzles at this point.

      Here are two personal opinions on these matters:



    2. Ervin, opinions are not divided. Almost everybody thinks that the SM is incomplete or wrong. But there is no good evidence for this statement.

  4. I agree with Clara that most of TOE people's hopes are based on finding the "new physics" (as a consequence demonstrating that the SM is "wrong" and\or "incomplete"). They search for deviations from SM predictions.

    But SM seems to be predicting the correct data. Just like the econometric model from XIX'th century based on correlation between number of spots on the Sun and UK's gross domestic product. This model worked well for the economy based on agriculture (and hence dependent on solar activity).

    The Standard Model looks very "econometric". There are many things that need to be explained to make it "physical".

  5. Murod,

    we will see where the TOE leads us.