Thursday, 5 January 2012


So, here's another candle on my cake. Resonaances has been hanging around the blogosphere for exactly 5 years now, gaining reputation for spreading unfounded rumors, for trying (in vain) to sound funny, and for (successfully) annoying everybody around. Traditionally, the New Year time is a lazy moment when bloggers take a pause and, rather than chasing news stories, post various summaries and wishlists. From me, as a birthday present, here's a list of 5 important questions in particle physics that likely will be answered by the end of 2012.
  • Is there a Higgs boson and why at 125 GeV?
    Particle physicists are divided into those who think that Higgs is as good as discovered and those who think one should not say it loud. In any case, 2012 will go down in history books as the discovery year. Moreover, we will start learning something the Higgs couplings, thus kicking off with Higgs precision physics - the subject that will probably dominate particle physics for the next 2 decades.
  • Is there anomalous top quark forward-backward asymmetry?
    There is this persistent anomaly at the Tevatron: the direction of motion of top quarks is statistically more forward than that of antitop quarks (where forward/backward is the direction of the proton/antiproton beam); the asymmetry is 10-15% larger than predicted by the state-of-art Standard Model calculations. This year we'll get more insight into this phenomenon thanks to analyses of the full Tevatron dataset. Moreover, the LHC will narrow down on the related observable called the charge asymmetry of top pair production, and see whether any discrepancy with the Standard Model appears. If it does, it's gonna be a beautiful year. On the other hand, if nothing unusual is seen by the end of this year, that will be a big blow to our hopes that new physics is lurking there.
  • Is there anomalous CP violation in the B meson sector?
    Back in 2010 the D0 experiment found in their data the di-muon charge anomaly: a 1% excess of events with 2 negatively charged muons over those with 2 positively charged muons. The most appealing interpretation of that asymmetry was anomalous CP violation in B meson mixing, that is anti-B mesons turning into B-mesons more often than the other way around. However that interpretation is now under serious strain, because no CP violation has been observed by LHCb in the Bs meson decay to J/Ψ ϕ and to J/Ψ f0, and simultaneously no CP violation in the Bd meson sector has been seen in B-factories. This year LHCb should weigh in with another measurement of the difference of Bd and Bs meson CP asymmetries. That should sweep the floor once and for all, or, hopefully, open Pandora's box.
  • What went wrong in OPERA?
    Most physicists, including those working for the OPERA collaboration, don't think that neutrinos are superluminal (because of theoretical and indirect experimental arguments). It seems likely that the bug explaining the 60 nanosecond shift of the arrival time of neutrinos sent from CERN to Gran Sasso will be found already this year. The talk in town is that more experimental work will be done soon, with Gran Sasso's experiments ICARUS and Borexino joining in the game with independent measurements of the neutrino speed. Is it the GPS? The clock? A delay in electronics? Or is it the magic mountain?
  • Is there supersymmetry below the TeV scale?
    SPOILER ALERT: No. Well, so far we know for sure it's not there in its most popular incarnation, with gluino and squarks decaying via short cascades to much lighter stable neutralinos, thus producing a lot of missing energy. This year the net will be made much tighter, thanks to more data, the collision energy (likely) increased to 8 TeV, and many new analyses targeting more stealthy SUSY scenarios. By the end of this year surviving scenarios with squarks and gluinos below TeV will become collector's items, cherished for their rarity rather than beauty.
As a bonus, one more question that will be answered by the end of the year, and that is probably more pressing for a larger audience:
  • Will there be an Armageddon on December 21?
    Not sure about it, but definitely the LHC should not be running on that day. So that, if the world ends, they won't blame us.
And to finish the party, here's the song that David Bowie wrote especially for today's anniversary of Resonaances:


Patrick Bowman said...

Happy Birthday, Resonaances!

Anonymous said...

Well, happy birthday. But if you know about David Bowie, then you're much older than five...

Jester said...

Nah, it's David Bowie who knows about me

Anonymous said...

On your 5th birthday, I wish that you have an awesome life ahead. Happy Birthday little one.

paolo said...

and Thank You.

Anonymous said...

So (under the optimistic assumption that we reach a consensus on detection of a DM particle), the future of particle physics is precision Higgs and precision DM observation. Why would anyone ever need any more particle physicists?

Luboš Motl said...

Happy birthday, Jester.

Anonymous said...

Haapy Birthdaay!!

Robert Graham said...

Happy birthday!

and thank you for your crisp, informative
and well-written blog.

Mitchell said...

Anonymous, the period of fundamental discovery has to end eventually. But there's still one more thing to do, and that is to explain the particle masses and other basic quantities of physics. There are plenty of patterns in the standard model which don't have a standard explanation, or which have no known explanation at all. Finding such explanations may be purely a matter of theoretical work (though perhaps the theory can then tell us the next decimal place, to be tested by those precision measurements), or there may be experimental consequences - the interplay of theory and experiment isn't over yet. I am a big booster of the Koide mass relation as the major neglected fact in particle physics, and in you can see testable consequences for the only known mechanism (Sumino's family gauge bosons) which would explain why the Koide formula holds so precisely. But my main point is that, even if there are no more fundamental phenomena to discover, the work of explanation is not yet finished.

David said...