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Higgsistential Angst

July 18, 2012 5 comments

We’ve seen a lot of news about the Higgs boson in the news over the last couple of weeks. One might be tempted to suppose that my bet about the outcome of this adventure was wrong.

And so it might me. Refutability is a fine thing. However, I don’t think this matter is over yet. Ray, from Finitism Forever, supplied me with this link to an article on the magnificent Arxiv blog.

There are two reasons why I’m not ready to call the discovery of the Higgs a done deal. The rational part of me is reluctant because the best the physics community can say at this point is a ‘Higgs-like particle’. That’s far from conclusive.

Then there’s the intuitive part of me, and it doesn’t want to think they’ve found the Higgs, because it would, IMO, be terrible news for physics. Yes, terrible. To tidy up the loose ends of a theory that looked complete before anyone discovered dark matter or dark energy means we’re in horrible shape to understand these deeper questions about how the universe works. In that scenario, there are no particle interactions we can generate that would help us even start to understand.

Also, bear in mind that the LHC has been punching large holes in lots of supersymmetry theories. That’s one result out of CERN that we can feel confident about. Hence, the idea of supersymmetric particle pairs as candidates for dark matter looks a lot shakier than it did a few years ago.

I would rather that physics have something chewy and hard to understand in front of it. Something tantalizing but offering the promise of deeper knowledge. The alternative is an opportunity for a lot of retired professors to bust out the champagne and feel smug, followed by a long, dark period of complete confusion.

So come on, Universe. Don’t give us a Higgs. You’re better than that.

 

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