This year, hopefully, we’ll see the Large Hadron Collider back in business. While ignoring the voices of people worried about black holes and imminent Earth destruction, in 2012 it helped uncover a boson with quite fascinating properties – the godlike Higgs boson (well, one of them, anyway). Now, with all the particles the Standard Model predicted being experimentally found, it’s “here be dragons” time..
They’re trying to prove supersymmetry right. If it’s right, there should be a few more (4 more, to be exact) Higgs bosons to be found and would reeaaaally open up dark matter research. Thing is, we’re not exactly sure what dark matter is (and we’ve been scratching our collective ars.. heads for some time now), because we’re seeing interesting results when we add up the contents of the universe and we’re coming up short – dark matter should be the answer for it. Not to mention it’s older brother, the kick-ass dark energy that manages to accelerate a whole universe while maintaining its density (unless they’re interchangeable twins or they don’t exist per se and we ought be using Moffat’s scalar-tensor-vector gravity, and boy that one has been killing my weaker neurons for the last few months or so). So what is it?
We don’t know. We can tell how it acts – it affects gravity and doesn’t appear to emit light (or we just don’t see it). What else affects gravity and emits no light? Black holes (among others). But so many? Sounds rather implausible to me and so far I’m not exactly buying the MACHO idea – microlensing hasn’t found that much to account for what people’ve calculated. But I’m not really the smartest daisy in the bunch there now, am I.. So why exactly are galaxies and those other big things like clusters bunch up and sometimes rotate so fast?
Supersymmetry could make things clearer for us – it says that for every particle in the Standard Model there is a corresponding half spin off particle (bosons to fermions, and so on). Could be that is what gives mass to things? Not to jinx things (and I’m not saying that’s not going to be marketed as a weight-loss pill to less… blessed people), but it would really explain some things. Or not.
To find those pesky hidden particles we need more power, which is why we took down the LHC in 2013, to upgrade it to work with higher energies and stuff like that. But what if we don’t find what we’re looking for? What if supersymmetry is wrong?
Well, for one thing it’s one bottle of cognac down the drain – and it’s the good stuff, which would annoy me to no end. That’s one of the reasons I’m not on the yes or no votes, the other being I’m not even close to being smart enough or sober enough to live through the loss of a whole bottle of cognac. Come home, Susy!
No, supersymmetry is not dead yet, until we really fire up the LHC and find out the how-s or what-s. But we might have to revise it, along with some other theories. I kind of like superstring theory for its brain-twisting elegance, and I’d rather take up knitting than go back to learning about redesigning bosons without fermions. Besides, a Calabi-Yau manifold looks super-nice when I’m drunk, adds the zing to the wine and warms up the cognac.
Insha’Allah. Everybody’s got a secret, Sonny…