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What Me Worry About The Future of High Energy Physics?

The question “What Me Worry” by Alfred E. Neuman of MAD magazine fame, applies these days to a substantial number of practitioners of high energy physics, probably more to  theoreticians than to experimenters. There are several causes of these worries. We have no answers to questions such as: is supersymmetry a valid theory, why are there just three generations, or are there more generations, what sets the masses of the leptons, what is the correct unification of quantum mechanics with gravity. So many unanswered questions! Of course there has been magnificent progress, such as the discovery of the Higgs using the Large Hadron Collider. But this success has had a peculiar reverse effect on the morale of our community, what if the community cannot top this accomplishment?  Compare this reverse morale effect in particle physics with the great boost given to morale in cosmology  by the discovery of the dark energy phenomenon. At the practical level, there is the serious worry that our governments are not willing to fund major new particle physics, such as a very high energy linear electron-positron collider, or if feasible, a circular muon-muon collider. The next very high energy facility will not be built within the next decade, perhaps not within the next two decades. The remaining working lifetime of older physicists, such yours truly, is a few decades. References to, and discussions of, these worries are recounted in Peter Woit’s fine blog “Not Even Wrong”, posted on January 14, 2013. Incidentally, I first learned from Peter’s blog of the … Continue reading

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