The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been running for some time now. So this is now the right time ( January, 2011) for an interim report. There is in fact nothing to report as yet. There is yet no sign of any super-symmetric particle, no sign of a Higgs boson or anything unusual of any kind. There is no evidence for the reigning field theory called string theory. Of course this is early time yet. There is a chance that LHC might in future reveal something new. The best that can be said, at present, is that the interim LHC result has put some stringent constraints on all low energy speculative theories like the string theory.
What is the consequence to Physics of the failure of the LHC to unearth anything new? Modern particle Physics research has been floundering ever since it was shown experimentally the protons do not decay at least not in the time scale envisaged. The proton decay was a key prediction of Howard-Glashow SO(10) theory which extended the Weinberg, Salam, Glashow (WSG) theory of weak interactions. The WSG theory had separate hadron (protons for example), lepton (electron and neutrinos for example) and boson (photons) sectors. Howard and Glashow generalised the WSG theory by assuming that at energies higher than envisaged by WSG, hadrons and leptons form a common sector. That would imply a proton decaying into lepton. This has, however, not been seen. This failure raises deep conceptual question. Why should nature not follow the simple extension of the very successful WSG theory? Is the conceptual basis of quantum field theory completely correct?
Once the SO(10) theory was shown to be incorrect there was a flurry of other theories culminating in the string theory. The string theory is the only quantum field theory that is known to unite the Gravitation theory of Einstein with the standard model (the WSG theory is an important part of the standard model). This unification comes at a very steep price, however. The unification requires more than the physically observed 4-dimensions (3 spatial and time) and also numerous super-symmetric particles. It is possible to formulate string theory without super-symmetric particles but life is made easier by assuming super-symmetry.
The failure of LHC to see anything as yet suggests that all the work done since 1980 is without any experimental support. All the people who have invested all their productive life in particle Physics research might never see either confirmation or rejection of their ideas. Moreover it would be difficult for newer people to continue research in this field in the complete absence of experimental data.
More posts by this author:
- What will the Large Hadron Collider see?
- Importance of Nothing
- Crisis in modern Physics
- Bell’s Theorem and Quantum Mechanics
- Model or Reality?
I did my school, college and parts of my University education in Kolkata. I got my M.Sc degree from Kolkata University. I went to USA in 1979 and got my M.S and Ph.D in Physics from University of Pittsburgh in 1984. I did my Post Doctorate in University of Southern California, Los Angeles and then worked as a Research Scientist in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Space Sciences Center of University of Southern California. My scientific work includes heavy ion-atom scattering, multiphoton ionization and heliosphere data analysis of Pioneer 10/111 and Voyager 1/2 deep space spacecaft and analysis of solar extreme ultraviolet data obtained from SOHO spacecraft. I have been a National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration (NASA) Principal Investigator from 2002 – 2007. I have been a member of a NASA awards committee to decide allocation of money to different scientists. I have also refereed scientific articles submitted to Journal of Geophysical Research and Astrophysical Journal.