16 March 2013

How to get more money in particle physics

Particle physicists faces a problem. Given that the standard model is all there is, they don't have a good story to tell. They found no supersymmetry, no mini black holes, no additional dimensions, no GUT, and not anything new.

Do they have bad dreams? Well, they took 50 years to find the Higgs boson after it was predicted. This must have been the slowest discovery in the history of physics. The 50 years were great: they got so much money in the meantime that they lived well. What will happen now? Are they going to argue that we will need 200 years for squarks and similar nonsense? Probably. It worked well in the past.

The Milner prizes show that you can get a large prize even if your theory contradicts facts. Everybody has noticed this. So what will these people do?

1: They will develop a model that cannot be tested by the LHC in Geneva. Thus it cannot be tested for another 30 to 50 years. Such a model is the basis

2: They will develop an artificial consensus. By channeling all attention, all lobbying, all conferences, all the press and the funds to their model, they will live well for another 30 to 50 years.

3: They will be nasty to all people who point out that the consensus model has no experimental backing.

4: They will enjoy all the money: go to conferences, groom PhDs that are devoted to the money distributors, plan and build useless machines, lobby politicians etc. And they will ask for time.

All this sounds familiar doesn't it? They just need a new theory, or at least a new type of string theory, to get all this happening. We just have to wait for the next such article in Scientific American. That is where such lobbying usually starts.