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The LHC “nightmare scenario” has come true (backreaction.blogspot.com)
311 points by another on Aug 6, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 196 comments



I always thought that the LHC "nightmare scenario" referred to accidential creation of a black hole... Well, looks like different people have different ideas of what a "catastrophe" means :)


No one in the physics community did take the creation of a black hole serious not even as a nightmare scenario. (First you have to create it, which requires large extra dimensions or a similar deformation of gravity at short scales, then it should not just evaporate immediately, which appears^1 to involve a breakdown of quantum field theories close to a black hole. Then there are additional arguments, but we already assumed that we do neither understand gravity nor quantum theory at the TeV scale, so all bets are off. We may as well assume that the LHC wakes Cthulhu.)

By contrast, the nightmare scenario here is really the worst kind scenario under the assumption that we have a good idea about physics at the TeV scale. We do not learn anything, and even worse the LHC is the wrong machine. With a light Higgs and no additional particles, a slight upgrade to the LEP, the predecessor of the LHC, would have found the Higgs in 2005 and would be a much better machine to study it in detail.

^1 Hawking radiation (and its close relative Unruh radiation) are basically the only two effects which involve both gravity and quantum field theory anybody has any kind of believe in.


So does this mean that maybe we made the right call not building the Super Conducting Super Collider?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superconducting_Super_Collider


Not necessarily. The (design) collision energy of the SSC was 40 TeV, about 3x the LHC's. So it is still conceivable that it could have found something genuinely new which is out of the LHC's reach. I guess Lisa Randall is getting really worried now [1].

[1] https://www.edge.org/response-detail/23840


Good and useful work has come out of the LHC, enough to make it more than worthwhile. It's just that some of the big hopes don't seem to have panned out.


I was going to write this exact comment, but then I realized if that "nightmare scenario" came true I probably wouldn't be here to write the comment...


It would take a long time for a tiny black hole to feed enough to be a problem.


I looked this up, and according to the most entertaining source I found (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nHBGFKLHZQ) the result of a tiny blackhole would basically be a gigantic nuclear explosion (it would evaporate rather than continue forming) -- so a big problem immediately, but not one that would prevent me from reading about it here in the US.


Yes, if physics behave accordingly the way we expect it would evaporate almost immediately, but it would be a tiny explosion because they'd only be a tiny amount of energy there in the first place.

The more fun version would be where black holes do not evaporate, at which point it will still be a very long time before it's a problem, we need to worry about Andromeda crashing into our galaxy and the sun becoming a red giant first.


That kind of timescale often makes me wonder, how do we know there aren't millions of tiny black holes all throughout the planet slowly growing?


And pertinently, if there were, is the timescale fixed, or are there externals events that might speed it up?

The Sun's dying and will become a red giant (about 5 billion years to go), but it's luminosity is currently increasing, so our rock will become a scorched Earth in around a billion years. Then there's the potential for meteors, climate-change, antibiotic resistance, or millions of tiny black holes to do us off first (how quickly do black holes grow, anyway?)

Colonising other planets and other solar systems seems the only viable solution to the long-term survival of the human race.


We don't, but I haven't seen any around.


Maybe they're just hiding in the dark.

Or maybe they are the dark.


It can only explode as much energy as you put in though. The particles the LHC collides don't have all that much energy.


My thoughts exactly: if the title was accurate, we wouldn't be hearing about it.


There are more energetic particles hitting the atmosphere, so that's not a nightmare that ever really made sense.


I think this was meant to be ironic.


Yah, that's what I thought when I saw the title. It was quite an interesting article. There is so much distaste for the standard model out there (from me too, I suppose). There's got to be a better explanation... but maybe there isn't.


I would imagine that some people believe being "lost" is a greater catastrophe than being dead.

Personally, I'm in the it's all good unless you create a black hole, explosion, or gateway to someplace we don't want to visit or want visitors from.


As long as we've got Gordon Freeman and a crowbar, we're all good.


I sometimes wonder if modern SciFi and games have actually kept up with the lessons they have already added to the collective culture over the years. If CERN suddenly had velociraptors pouring out of some gate they created, what would the real world reaction be? I'm betting it wouldn't be blind panic. I get the feeling the Swiss could handle it themselves.


"Oh, lord, not Scenario 12c(a)! And on the Friday before a 3-day weekend!"


I always considered it to be if the LHC made a new super-stable state of matter and everything falls into a new ground state. Yikes!


Clickbait is clickbait.


In the context of physics this is not clickbait. It is an actual nightmare for physics because they have spent years and billions building this extremely complex machine. The fact that they are not seeing new physics means that they did all this work to verify the existence of a single particle. Beyond that they are not discovering anything new. It's a nightmare because it tells you that even if you build a bigger more powerful machine you may not see anything new. If you aren't going to see anything new, you can't justify building it. Also the machine required to see new physics might have to be so large that it's not practical to build. It means the end of the road for this kind of particle physics. It also means that theoretically we've been at a dead end for a long time.


No, it's not clicbait. This is an accurate description of the current scenario from the point of view of her discipline. Although, I suppose it's not that obvious if one is not familiar with physics.


This isn't clickbait. Do you see any ads on this page?

This is an accurate characterization of the worst outcome (that doesn't involve space aliens) that scientists were worried about when the LHC launched.


Well, more so, they have a pretty clear definition of what they mean by "nightmare scenario"; it would have nice to have their claim much earlier in the article followed by the rest of the history, but I really wouldn't call it clickbait. But I can really see why it's considered a "nightmare" given what the article is suggesting. Like, clickbait is shitty, but this case really isn't. It is eyecatching though.


I'd say "see what happens next!" is clickbait even if the page has no ads and actually does show what happens next. When "nightmare scenario" turns out to mean "not much has happened", that's at least borderline clickbait. But at least the article was substantive. I don't think people would hate sensational headlines so much if the content lived up to expectations.


I do understand what you're saying, in that overt eye-catching and curiosity tweaking headlines that are intentionally misleading are bad and certainly clickbait.

In this instance, however, I think it's more of a question of there being a big question as to "what is the nightmare scenario"; each part of the article is relevant to this question, explaining the state of the particle physics and the build up towards the apparent disappointment with the results from the LHC research.

Nightmare scenario is being fairly specific here; it's not really in the same field as "See what happens next" or "You won't believe what happens" in my mind since those have no substance or real connection to their content. This article headline is very attention grabbing, since we're not sure what the LHC Nightmare Scenario is. However, the article substantiates the title. It provides the author's reasons specifically why the current status of LHC research is in a nightmare scenario.

The title is provocative, yes, but I feel that conflating provocative with "Clickbait" is disingenuous. Some of the most famous headlines in history have arguably been clickbait by that metric, yet they're not held to the same scrutiny.


> since we're not sure what the LHC Nightmare Scenario is.

I disagree. I believe that the intended audience of this article, people familiar with what the LHC has been up to, what it's goals were, who are keeping up with current events, like knowing that the diphoton bump has vanished, would immediately recognize what the article would be about. I did at least. It seems completely unfair to say "This article doesn't cater to HN" and then accuse the author of engaging in sensationalistic clickbait, especially when HN doesn't trust submitters to provide more context in headlines.

This lack of context is because, it appears, most HN readers are more familiar with the actual clickbait headlines from media outlets proclaiming "Mini Blackholes may destroy the earth!", "Strangelets could destroy the earth!", "The LHC will start the Zombie Apocalypse!", than the actual concerns of scientists. Again, this seems monstrously unfair that actual clickbait has set the conversation, and people who actually are talking about the actual 'nightmare scenario' are now accused of clickbait.

Not all nightmares are about monsters chasing you. A lot of them are showing up to class in your underwear, or trying to find that report that you know should be on the table. I would not be surprised that several physicists have in fact had actual nightmares of this exact scenario.


I'm a little confused as to whom specifically you're responding to.

I'm not sure where the idea of "this article doesn't cater to HN" and the following accusation comes from in relation to the thread that was being discussed.

I do agree with you that it's unfair to call it clickbait, that there's a large difference between a provocative headline and a clickbait headline. Personally I'm not familiar enough with the going-ons of the LHC to really comment intelligently on the research, so I have and will hold off on that.


I was responding, perhaps my misinterpretation, to your assertion that it was unclear what the 'nightmare scenario' was. I asserted that if you had been following the recent developments of the LHC (or had some idea as to what the worst case scenario was), there would be no ambiguity as to what this article was about. The reason why this is the case is that this article was not written with the HN crowd in mind.

The primary response to this article, given the comments, is "what do you mean you're not talking about black holes" rather than an actual discussion of the ideas of the article (the failure of "naturalness" and "beauty" to make predictions for the LHC). Which leads me to conclude that HN is not a good place to talk about this (since most people are complaining that the , as we're arguing about the most boring, superficial part of the article.

My statement that people are complaining about "This article doesn't cater to HN", is my summary of the idea that 'I am not familiar with the context associated with the headline, and to me it sounds sensationalistic, and therefore it is clickbait, and the author should have picked a better title'. You obviously, are not advocating that position.


Ah, yes, I was projecting my own ignorance out to the general audience when I said that it was "unclear what the nightmare scenario was", as I think a lot of people really didn't follow LHC news well enough to know what the nightmare scenario would be. This is the source of the confusion, and I should have been more clear.

The rest I believe you and I are in agreement over. :)


The LHC is a multi billion dollar project designed specifically to help physicists build physical models that are more accurate than what currently exists. Countless man-years have been devoted to its operation. Apparently, the only thing it has done is confirm what we already knew decades ago. The nightmare scenario is the waste of billions of dollars and a decade of your life, with no alternatives in sight. Remember, the article is from the perspective of a theoretical physicist. This stuff is her life.


the only thing it has done is confirm what we already knew decades ago

I thought it confirmed what we thought we knew (and is the only way to confirm it), so that doesn't seem like wasted money.


It would be more precise to say that it didn't show us anything we didn't already know (other than the Higgs). There are various indications that the Standard Model is not the whole story but the LHC gave no hints whatsoever on what directions to explore next. In that sense, it was wasted money.


Clickbait does have to have ads, it's the sensationalism as incentive to click.


I do - that "Support my writing" box in the corner with a Paypal link.


And I'm sure that her primary motivation when writing the title was to get donation clicks.


I don't know anything about her motivation, but you asked if there were any ads on the page, so I pointed out that there is one.


It isn't really clickbait, though it sure feels like one. There's a clear definition of LHC "nightmare scenario" in the article, and it apparently wasn't made up for the article itself. I agree with 'csydas though, it would be better if the meaning of that term was explained earlier in the text - but maybe the regular audience of this blog already know what it means.


I personally sort of assumed it wasn't a black hole since I was still alive and existing to read the headline.


I think most people that has followed particle physics for the last few years had a quite good idea already from the headline what the post would be about.


Bee's blog is about as far from clickbait as you can get,


what is clickbait, is the comment section where people only read the headline, and think of black hole as the nightmare scenario. Just read through the blogpost, must be one of the rare ones, as the commenter above me as well explained so eloquently this is nightmare scenario, there is no new guidance and particle physicists are not going in other directions they still waiting to see some sort of super symmetry or some kind of evidence of string theory, the field is lacking new ideas.


a black hole created from component of the LHC wreak all the of the havoc caused by the gravitational force of something with the mass of of....a rather large piece of lab equipment.


The scenario at hand is the particles colliding into a black hole, not spontaneous conversion of the equipment.

A black hole with the mass of a big chunk of equipment would be enormously deadly. Ten megatons per pound, assuming it evaporates. Most of the planet collapsing into it if it doesn't.


TL;DR: All the hype and rumours about a new discovery at the LHC [1][2][3][4] that looked like a particle outside of the standard model was for naught. As the LHC detectors gathered and processed more data, the "diphoton bumps" turned from interesting anomalies to statistically insignificant noise [5].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11893164

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11250931

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9420043

[4] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/potential-new-part...

[5] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/hope-for-new-parti...


No that is not really the TL;DR of her post (which on her site is a condensed version of what she put on Starts with a Bang).

Her main point is that the HEP community has been racing down a road for many years and probably missed the "dead end" sign some years back. In particular, she takes issue with what is called 'naturalness' and its often used justification for PBTSM. She concluded with:

"I hope that this latest null result will send a clear message that you can’t trust the judgement of scientists whose future funding depends on their continued optimism."


My favorite non-serious pet theory is that we live in simulation created by intelligent beings. It's supposed to be cool and mathematically beautiful only little below atom level and up. When we dig into deeper energy levels we start do detect artifacts that make no sense because they are implementation details revealed where model breaks down.

We would be virtual scientist detecting features in physics simulation software that builds the world he is living in.


Also my fav. The nightmare scenario would be when particle physicist discover that we are living in a computer simulation built by AIs, and they realise that instead of building the LHC they should have studied quantum computing architectures and the docker repo on GitHub.

The most entertaining "simulation theory" (among Elon Musk's, Nick Bostrom's, etc) is Stephen Wolfram's one, who argues that "we could be the videogame (WoW of the future) of a teenager AI"...

https://youtu.be/giuVfY-I-p4?t=17m16s


In that situation, wouldn't we be the artificial intelligence? Kinda doesn't make sense to call our overlord an AI if we're the simulated beings.


> WoW of the future

Have you read Mogworld? That's basically the premise.


But things are possibly even more elegant at the quantum level... Depending on which explanation of the measurement problem is right, most of physics might be expressed by the schroedinger equation alone. All the high-level classical rules are just emergent properties of very small-scale physics, which could be very elegant. Notice that I say "could"; independently, relativity and QM (under unitary theories like multiverse, einselection, etc.) are very elegant, but it's not clear how complete they are or how they fit together.

Now, for the long-term survival of intelligent life, I hope you're right and we figure out how to hack the VM :)



So, in other words; our universe is held together with one off hacks and local fixes. We're screwed.

Also, this is literally the plot of Star Ocean 3.


My second favorite more serious candidate is R. B. Laughlin's (Nobel price in physics and controversial guy) ideas of emergence.

https://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0302028


Add to the list Garrett Lisi's E8 Lie theory. I would hope some of his predictions are testable at some point.

http://arxiv.org/abs/0711.0770



So, basically, you're a creationist or a believer in intelligent design or whatever they're called these days... :)


"Puny man can do nothing at all to help or please God Almighty, and Luck is not the hand of God." - The two chief teachings of the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent


You'd be surprised how many religions share the belief in the first clause, and as to the second -- how would you know? They built the simulation, they can do what they like.


Some commenters on the article discussed condensed matter physics as a potentially more viable path of inquiry for understanding underlying physics theory than high energy particle collision experiments.

I'm no expert here and don't understand the dichotomy, such as it were, here. Also, how are condensed matter physics contributing to fundamental theories of the universe today? I've heard a lot more of condensed matter physics in specific areas (eg superconductivity), but not often heard it discussed in relation to fundamental physics. But I'm pretty uninformed here, overall.

Does anyone with more expertise here have a quick breakdown of what these commenters mean?


You're right that condensed matter (or other sections of physics outside high energy) is not a likely place to find new fundamental physical theories. The commenters are instead arguing that there is a lot of space for new discovery within our existing fundamental theories. That doesn't mean this work isn't exciting or valuable; this kind of work includes things like quantum computing (most of which falls within condensed matter).

If understanding the ground rules meant you understood everything that can arise within them, math would be boring by definition since we generally choose our ground rules in mathematics. So we're still finding interesting and unexpected things in other areas, including fundamental rules that are non-obvious features of existing theories (theoretical quantum information work finds new things here all the time). So for people in high energy that like finding new fundamental facts about the universe, this is a good place to go. Some methods developed by string theory and other unification theories are actually already used in condensed matter!


Condensed matter physics has provided important math and physical ideas for particle physics. The basic mathematical framework of particle physics - Quantum Field Theory - is also useful to describe many condensed matter phases.

Two extremely important ideas that developed first in condensed matter are symmetry breaking (invented to explain ferromagnetism and other phase transitions - ideas were borrowed for example in the Higgs) and renormalization. They are of fundamental importance in particle physics as well. Of course this was way back in the 50s and 60s.

I am aware of a couple of collaborations between condensed matter and particle/string theorists these days:

1. String theorists have discovered that their mathematical techniques are useful in solving certain Quantum Field Theories which are important in condensed matter. Google Ads/CMT, or strange metals.

2. String theorists believe that in quantum gravity entanglement and gravity are closely linked. They have used ideas from condensed matter studies of entanglement called tensor networks (MERA) to build toy-models of gravity.


When you have a crystal, a regular lattice of atoms, then you often describe it in a continuous approximation. So you interpolate for example the displacement of each atom from its resting position by a displacement field. When you then quantize the atoms, then you will also quantize the displacement, and you end up with a quantum field theory of phonons.

The nice thing about looking at such systems is, that we have experimental access at all scales, so we can study the breakdown of a quantum field theory in detail. The unfortunate thing is, that there may or may not be an analogy between a condensed matter system and fundamental physics, that is just as much conjecture as is naturalness.


Probably it is referring to the overlap in mathematics between condensed matter and particle physics. Both fields can be seen as explorations of the mathematical framework known as Quantum Field Theory (with somewhat different interpretation) - many discoveries of QFT in one field also turn out to apply in the other, such as the renormalization group. For example, the Higgs mechanism was first discovered by a condensed matter physicist (Phil Anderson).


I think the experiments in the different field highlight this. Particle physics experiments keep getting bigger and more expensive (LHC, Kamiokande, etc). For condensed matter, you can give an undergrad liquid helium for experiments with superconductors, which will show QFT phenomena like quasi-particles. Even looking at symmetry breaking in condensed matter doesn't require (comparatively) huge experimental setups.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that if more people are actively experimenting and thinking about problems in a field, the more likely new results are going to be found. (That's not to say particle physics experiments aren't useful.)


I've never understood the desire for beauty in a theory of everything. Reality clearly isn't beautiful through and through, but at its corners it is awfully complex and arbitrary. If anything, reality is much like the outcomes of an evolutionary process, a mere hack of various mechanisms that happen to give rise to the relatively stable patterns we experience. Of course, fundamental research needs the optimism that we can compress all of that in ever smaller formulae, but I think there is no unambiguous evidence that we should actually expect that to be possible. The most striking piece of counter evidence is actually the kind of reality we experience in the first place. Imagine a universe in which its inhabitants would be able to figure out its fundamental principles. These inhabitants would likely immediately conquer all available space and use it to maximize the reward signals that evolution has equipped them with and thus transform everything into something completely different from the world we are experiencing. A universe with a reality like ours and that is fully understandable at the same time is thus (together with various other assumptions) a logical impossibility.


"I've never understood the desire for beauty in a theory of everything."

It comes from the history of physics. A few equations define classical dynamics. Maxwell's four equations describe electromagnetism. A few short equations define quantum electrodynamics. High-energy physicists have been looking for something equally terse. It just isn't happening.


Once we properly understood it we realized Maxwell's equations could be reduced to one equation (the d'Alembert operator applied to the electromagnetic tensor gives 4-current scaled by a constant).

I'm sure whatever turns up for quantum gravity will be hideous to begin with, but then eventually we'll understand it.


Hell, evolution by natural selection is damn elegant idea and explanation of the facts that it works with.


The Mandelbrot set is very complex, but is generated by an absurdly simple rule. There are many instances in math and physics where complex behavior is an emergent property of simple rules.

You're also confusing understanding with logical omniscience and omnipotence. I know all the rules of chess, but I do not know every fact those rules entail, and I do not know how to win every chess game. Even if I did know those things, certain moves are impossible even though I know everything about chess.


That's Wolfram's idea, basically.


I enjoyed ANKOS as much as the next man, but very little of it was original thinking on Wolfram's part.


It's not just about beauty, but experience. Imagine you have a spreadsheet with infinite rows where each row contributes to the Higgs mass. It also turns out that by and large each row contributes less than the previous. You can't calculate all of them, but calculating the bigger ones you can do pretty well. Now imagine someone plops in infinity into one of the rows, sure the rest could all just happen to contribute a small amount and conspire to add up and cancel that out (because the mass isn't infinite), but it just doesn't seem like the world we live in. However, if you add another column to your spreadsheet for super symmetry and suddenly that column naturally cancels out the discrepancies from the first column. It's a simplistic example, but hopefully gives a better idea why Physicists were hopefull for some kind of new physics.

This is called the hierarchy problem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchy_problem#The_Higgs_ma...


Just because you can understand the thing doesn't mean that you can completely control it. Just because we know about the speed of light doesn't mean that we can travel faster than it, just because we know math doesn't mean that we can make 1 plus 1 equal 3.

Knowing fundamental principles wouldn't make us all powerful.

Very interesting argument though.


I was about to say something similar, just checking out if someone had already said it.

I just don't dig the obsession with "aesthetics". It just doesn't compute. I understand the need for simplicity, but there's JUST NO PLACE for aesthetics in science. We need simple verifiable experiments and results, no "my model is more beautiful than yours" stupidity.

One important thing: scientists need to recognize where science ends and passion/preference begins. Scientism is the greatest foe of science.

Disclaimer: I'm not a scientist.


Aesthetics in science is shorthand for simplicity. Most agree that simpler theories have a higher prior probability (I.e. Occam's Razor).


It's here in programming too. C++ gets a lot of hate for being ugly, while Lisp is praised for it's beauty.


About 3 years ago, I had the chance to continue in particle physics for my Ph.D. specifically working for a CMS group. However, I felt SUSY had no real evidence then, and looking specifically at the "ground breaking" search that the group was undertaking, amongst others, and the pitiful results they had, I betted against SUSY and switched groups.

It looks like my bet was right. I miss the math in HEP but I feel somewhat justified. I'm not sure what this means for HEP going forward. May be scientists can move the goalposts but will funders be as sympathetic?


Actually some creative destruction might be good for physics as a whole. High energy physics amounts to glorified bean counting. Particle phenomenologists are expected to produce ~6 papers a year, what you write about is mostly fashion driven and what is fashionable is determined by a few thought leaders.


The OP made a side-comment about 'idea of naturalness' being a philosophical tenet. That's a problem because science claims to be philosophically neutral, which is impossible.

Science looks for a system which can exist without supernatural intervention, but the creation of time/space/matter doesn't fit within those constraints.

Admittedly that is a philosophical or even theological take, but at least it's honest.


>Science looks for a system which can exist without supernatural intervention, but the creation of time/space/matter doesn't fit within those constraints.

So our universe must fundamentally be a supernatural creation?

That's an extraordinary claim, what is your evidence? We currently have insufficient data and incomplete theories to fully describe the origins of the universe, sure. But how is this different from someone 500 years ago saying:

"Science looks for a system which can exist without supernatural intervention, but the creation of the Earth and humanity doesn't fit within those constraints."


>So our universe must fundamentally be a supernatural creation?

In my comment I wasn't making the argument that our universe must fundamentally be a supernatural creation. I was trying to show that presupposing it is a natural creation is not philosophically neutral, especially when what we have observed naturally seems to oppose the idea of energy or matter coming out of nowhere.

>What is your evidence? From my perspective, accepting the probability of a transcendent creator is a reasonable conclusion to draw based on the existence of the universe. I realize that will be judged to be a 'faith position', but from my perspective so is supposing it could exist on it's own.


I think you're misreading the article. Science is about theory and observation, with no presumption that the latter must fit the former.

As much as a physicist might hope to uncover a universal law that is simple enough for children to memorize yet subtle enough to warrant a lifetime of learning to fully understand, nature is perfectly content with fundamental parameters that settle into working values completely at random.


Fair enough. He was specifically speaking to 'naturalness' as technical designation in physics. I am getting a little more general.

The scientific method seeks to be entirely empirical - which makes sense for understanding what we can observe.

But what happens when what you are trying to understand is not observable? You fool yourself if you think you are being empirical when you are not. (His comment about moving the yardsticks applies here).

Any endeavor to understand the universe, especially origins, ends up involving philosophical presuppositions. Science aspires to avoid that, but can it?


Professor Matt Strassler has had excellent coverage of the events at LHC, including detailed explanations. For anyone interested in reading: https://profmattstrassler.com/


I reached this level of disillusionment 2 years into my theoretical particle physics Ph.D. program and dropped out to do software engineering... when this guy was graduating from High School in 1995. To me it has been obvious for a very long time that the standard model is pretty damn close which means we are in a pretty shitty energy regime for discovering anything new. I agree that astronomical observations are really the only way forward.


"This guy" is a woman named Sabine.


Oops! Can't correct it now but I am embarrassed I made that assumption and apologize.


All these comments about click bait vs. not and how the nightmare scenario isn't what the commenter expected, yet no one mentions what it actually is!

The answer: confirming the Higgs boson, but no other new physics that would narrow things beyond what we've been exploring for the past fifty years.


It's the LHC failing to discover anything that we hadn't predicted decades ago. There's no new physics, so nothing to base new theories on, and, rather importantly if you're a physicist, nowhere clues about where to look next.


Is this the same as saying there are no unexplained observations?


No not at all. In fact we know we a missing the piece of the puzzle that explains how quantum physics and gravity interact but we don't know where to look. We can try building a bigger accelerator but it would be very expensive.


It's the old Structure of Scientific Revolution. Standard Model is the current paradigm and we can't break through it until we actually find something that doesn't fit. Everything discovered by LHC fits, therefore we can't get to the next paradigm.


Perhaps it is a similar situation as cosmology at the time of Copernicus: his theory was manifestly worse than the existing "standard model", but was cleaner, more "beautiful". Getting his model to work brought about the revolution.


It's like if Columbus had sailed, found the Azores and then found an endless ocean (metaphorically speaking) instead of new continents.



It's not so hard to think about fitness and reproduction on a metaverse. When a Universe succeeds in creating one black hole, its singularity creates a new universe inheriting physical laws from parent but maybe distortions can happen in space giving rise to mutated memetic material. String theory research shows how distortion happens in six-dimensional circular Calabi-Yau shapes that might augment our three-dimensional extended space dimensions. Universes explode, grow and die, but the laws of those universes able to generate black holes live on in their offpring.

Presumably the capacity of a universe's laws to cluster matter lead both to black holes and to enough planets that life is more likely, so that our existence correlates with good universe fitness. Other universes might do pretty badly with getting stuff to stick together.


Several of the most successful theories of the last century were the result of serendipity (in addition to a lot of hard work): The two examples that spring to mind are Michelson and Morley sharing their negative results with the community; Penzias and Wilson not taking noise for an answer. Is it possible that there are fundamental discoveries hidden in decades of high-energy physics data records, simply waiting for the right interpretation, or are the statistic properties of this data sets so well understood that their analysis is "done"?


I can sympathize with people hoping for a more "useful" result in light of what avenues this closes down, but c'mon, any reliable scientific result is a good thing. We don't get to pick what the results are going to be but they are the only way forward.

As a curious bystander, it seems like some folks may have gotten a false sense of how difficult these next steps will be, after the recent and astounding success of mechanics and relativity. We could see another "extended" period where new observations are insufficient to support a better theory, and if so we have to be OK with that (but keep looking to make progress if at all possible).


The "nightmare" seems to be that the LHC only confirms the standard model without giving clues on how to extend physics further. I've got a hunch that a future breakthrough may come from AI, that combining general relativity and quantum mechanics is a bit much for unaided human brains and deep mind style computer systems may do better at spin-2 stuff in odd numbers of dimensions than us lot.


Suppose that you set a computer to work and it learns a fantastically accurate model that no human is able to understand. Do you then declare victory and move on?


I think that depends on if it's garbage (noise) or an actual understanding (signal).

'AI' solutions don't always solve the problem you're trying to train them on, sometimes they solve the problem of giving you the expected answer from the samples you give them.


I'm guessing it would be easier to understand the stuff than come up with it. If it did come up with a model that predicted something like particle weights we could then try to figure what it did.


This isn't a failure. It's just the result of a bunch of experiments. What would be worse is if the scientific community was unable to raise funds for such large experiments due to fear of failure. It's ok, we tried something, now we know to try something else.


Only 3 years between conclusive evidence for the Higgs Boson - a Nobel Prize-winning discovery, and the culmination of a 40 year search - and the nightmare scenario that all they've discovered is the Higgs Boson.

Oh well, perhaps they'll build an Even Larger Hadron Collider?


The point is that it would have been more interesting either not to find it (because there were theoretical limits on how massive it could be) or to find it along with something new, that we couldn't predict. This really was the worst-case scenario.


The physics is insufficient. We're asking the wrong question because there isn't one grand theory. In a multiverse we'll just see our place as we always have, the right set of answers to be asking the questions.


It's strange that physicist are so unwilling to explore radically different theories. Our understanding of particle physics is less than a century old. The theory of phlogiston, which was unequivocally wrong, last longer.

Naturalness probably spawns from mathematical constants, most of which are around 1. [1] This also assumes the dimensional analysis is correct, or that certain values are not derived.

Also, have all of the easy physic experiments been done? Seems like physics is only being explored at high energies in expensive set-ups. Some of the biggest discoveries of 100 years ago were done with relatively cheap set-ups, see the Gold Foil Experiment.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_constants_and_fun...


I'm not sure that they're unwilling at all. String theory, etc, is radically different and perhaps so radically different that its not even pursuing.

If you have any ideas for easy, novel physics experiments, please dive in. But after 100 years of lots and lots and lots of people playing around, most of what people can imagine has been done. If there's going to be something new, it's going to be radically different, most likely, with entirely new areas of physics, not some refinement of existing theory.

If "physics" were a newly discovered continent, there's a good chance that we've discovered most of what's on the surface.

There's still exploration, I think. I'm not a physicist by any means, but it seems that things like condensed matter physics are plowing ahead in new areas, away from the "surface of the continent," if you will allow me to continue the metaphor.

But if you're starting with the physics that you learn as an undergrad taking engineering and what you get from newspapers, those branches seem pretty well capped off for the foreseeable future. Better to go to new areas that still have millions of discoveries waiting, like biology or other complex systems.


Dynamical systems (and by extension classical mechanics) is far from a completely understood field - especially nonlinear dynamics.


Well, in principle physicists would be more than happy to explore radically different theories. But the thing is, physicists tend to worry if a effect is observable. So a alternative theory needs to be compatible with all experiments that have been done until today, and second it needs to predict an effect that is observable within current experimental ability. (Or an effect that is close.) There is today just not something radically different aviable, which passes these two tests.


Interesting personal note for me is that C.N. (Frank) Yang told me over dinner 15 years ago about his "The Party's Over" prediction. Only now do I know what he meant! (And I guess he was right)


Since I'm now reading The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence, I was expecting to something completely different from this article.


I am more and more on board with the Lee Smolin "singular universe" concept. To me it's very analogous to the Darwinian revolution in biology. Physicists are still pre-Darwin, unable to understand why the universe looks so "un-natural". It's the watchmaker analogy for physical laws and constants, and the answer is the laws look so well-tuned because the laws and particles themselves "evolved" and tuned themselves into the stable universe we see.


Evolution depends on a means of variation (in biology, random mutation), and on a measure of fitness (in biology, number of children). What would the means of variation and the measure of fitness be for laws of physics?


Different abstraction level. Evolution provides a framework for biology which works at every level. EX: Why does the human optic nerve cause a blind spot? At the detail level biology is filled with a huge range of less than optimal solutions, but when 'it worked' is the only limitation things click.

Physics has a lot of data and several models that work really well, but they don't really fit into a single coherent system. QM vs Relativity etc. The density needed to form a black hole decreases linearly with radius, sho why is the universe not one?


> The density needed to form a black hole decreases linearly with radius, sho why is the universe not one?

I feel like this explains it pretty well.

https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/ask-ethan-50-why-didnt...

tl;dr: Schwarzschild’s solution is a static one, meaning that the metric of space does not evolve as time progresses.


I think more accurately, a measure of fitness includes a fitness filter (in biology, death). This raises another question - what would be the fitness filter for the universe?


Instability. Just like in biology, death is not a true optimization, it is greedy for local maximums. How many bacteria have evolved specifically to thrive on you, even though within a couple decades surely you'll be no more, leading them to extinction?

So would universes come in existance with varying degrees of stability. No one has to say 'this is a stable universe'. We can say 'this universe has been stable for quite a long while'. Long enough to spawn us and the very interesting universe around us.

Just like in biology, merely the fact that we could be here, is the reason we're here.

Of course, that's assuming that for some reason big bangs with varying values for universal constants are a constant occurrence. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be something we're ever going to be able to measure/observe. Though there are/have been (theoretical) experiments to see if universal constants really are constant. If they're not, that would be a nice indicator that the universe really is unstable enough to create stability.


As a poster said, the fitness filter may as well be "whatever works" in the sense that it's so rare to stumble upon stable combinations of energy, space and time (if they are at all separate concepts) that whatever works, continues existing, and if circumstances allow, spreads.

It's actually quite a neat concept, if very similar to the anthropic principle. Unfortunately, it offers no predictions.


Entities capable of asking this question?


Does lack of such entities kill a universe? If not, then we're just reducing the problem to anthropic principle here.


It's very likely that there's no higher purpose in any universe's existence - a/the universe could just be a set of random "rules and laws" which happen to not die out as soon as they are randomly created.

Of course verifying this probably requires that we inspect most of our universe directly...


Repeating what I've gleened from my extensive reading of sci-fi:

New child universes are spawned with new values for various constants. Stable arrangements (combinations) persist, spawning new grandchildren universes. Unstable arrangements blink out of existence.

Edit: I want to apologize for volunteering an answer to the question of how natural selection might work at a cosmic level with some speculation I've read. I regret the error.


Evolved how? According to what selection criterion? There has to be an environment or you just get a random walk across state space. Evolution is a learning process that transfers information from the environment into the evolving system as such information pertains to an implied goal function.

Selection need not be wholly external. It can be emergent from within the system, as it is with life viewed collectively as it manifests ecology and coevolution. But in the end there is still the basic criterion of mortality and reproductive fitness that serves as a top level goal function to orient the entire system. There is the environment and the implied goal of genetic survival.

What might the top level goal function be for an evolving universe? And where would it come from? How can "all that there is" possess an environment?

Of course in an eternal universe model with changing physical laws you could have a random walk across state space, but this amounts to saying the digits of pi contain Shakespeare. They do but it doesn't tell us any more than infinite multiverse theories. In fact we might call this an infinite multiverse theory linearized across time instead of parallelized across dimensions.


> But in the end there is still the basic criterion of mortality and reproductive fitness that serves as a top level goal function to orient the entire system.

Reproductive fitness is necessary to apply the concept of evolution, but mortality isn't.


That is true if you have infinite capacity, such as a hypothetical biology in an infinite environment with infinite resources. Is he proposing infinite universes? In that case I'm not sure I see the difference between this and multiverse theories.


No, it's always true. If you don't have infinite capacity, then you will have mortality, but that's a separate issue.


I'm more inclined to go with the anthropic principle, where we're observing this universe with these particular physical constants because the other universes (with slightly different constants) are a largely undifferentiated soup of basic particles.


This doesn't really address the core issue, though. The anthropic principle may tell us why we're capable of observing the universe, but it doesn't tell us why there is something to observe (instead of nothing), and why the laws and fundamental constants are the way they are.


Isn't there some basic question in physics that simply can't be answered, similarly to how axioms in math simply can't be proved.

> but it doesn't tell us why there is something to > observe (instead of nothing), and why the laws and > fundamental constants are the way they are.

I'm no physicist, but I simply cannot imagine candidate answers to such questions.


> Isn't there some basic question in physics that simply can't be answered, similarly to how axioms in math simply can't be proved.

See above. My comment was in response to ansible's reply to themgt. themgt was asking why the universe looks the way it does, and ansible responded with the anthropic principle. The problem with ansible's line of thinking is that the anthropic principle tells me a great deal about me (why I can exist and observe), but not much about the universe, which was themgt's question.

In response to your broader objection that there are some basic questions in physics that can't be answered, let me point out that the entire project of physics is to seek material causes for the structure of the universe. So if nature is all that exists, and the universe itself only has material causes, what are those causes? The entire field of cosmology dedicated to answering exactly this question, and many believe it's capable of doing so.

As far as Leibniz's famous question "why is there something rather than nothing?" is concerned: admittedly this is a metaphysical question, not a physical question. Still, I think we owe it to ourselves to answer this question too, and not simply dismiss it out of hand.

> I'm no physicist, but I simply cannot imagine candidate answers to such questions.

Even if this is true, it tells us something about you but not about the universe. By analogy, somehow my body "knew" to put my liver in my torso, not in my neck. I cannot begin to imagine what physical processes led to the proper placement of my liver, but we certainly shouldn't take this to mean there are no reasons.

Moreover, we shouldn't sell ourselves short in these matters. Undoubtedly, given enough study I could discover what others have said about organ placement during embryonic development and have a fairly robust understanding of the best of our knowledge regarding the topic. The same is true of cosmology and philosophy.


As far as Leibniz's famous question "why is there something rather than nothing?" is concerned: admittedly this is a metaphysical question, not a physical question. Still, I think we owe it to ourselves to answer this question too, and not simply dismiss it out of hand.

That is the big, big question.

On the one hand, I can easily imaging that there is nothing, nowhere, ever.

But on the other hand, doesn't it necessarily seem the case that there should be something existing somewhere, for at least some time? How can nothing exist... ever?

Even after all this time, I still can't wrap my head around this question.


> But on the other hand, doesn't it necessarily seem the case that there should be something existing somewhere, for at least some time? How can nothing exist... ever?

Funny you mention it, this was Leibniz's exact dilemma. He realized there must be two classes of existence: necessary (things that must exist), and contingent (things that don't have to exist). Not many things must exist, if you really think about it, and he came to the conclusion that God is the most reasonable explanation for why any contingent thing exists at all.

Worth your 5 minutes, if you're interested in this question:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPCzEP0oD7I

If you're interested enough to dedicate 100 minutes, here's a 3 part discussion with responses to objections.

https://youtu.be/EfpAqqadQVA?list=PLIpO3BUiq2IFMS3AP3Yi2oDfc...

https://youtu.be/NgXML-wI1tQ?list=PLIpO3BUiq2IFMS3AP3Yi2oDfc...

https://youtu.be/Y4J5vR3rgp4?list=PLIpO3BUiq2IFMS3AP3Yi2oDfc...


Why can't it be both?


Aside from the high temperature of the early universe, we haven't seen evidence that the physical laws are changing over time, much less 'adapting' in some way. What's the pressure for them to change? What's the reward for them to stay stable now?


On the other hand, we haven't directly observed the universe for a long enough time (billions of years) to say it's not changing, so we simply don't know. We don't even know if the universe is homogeneous.

For example, all we know about distant stars is complete conjecture and approximation based on testing various ideas to see which one fits. We simply don't know if "gravity" is exactly the same for all of them. Small variations of G would still light them up.


We've been looking back in time billions of years, because we look at objects billions of light-years away. If there's anything amiss about how gravity or whatever isn't working like it used to, that's news to me. I haven't heard of even a hint or something like that.


I was more asking why the two hypotheses have to be mutually exclusive.


Nothing can really be ruled out at this point, and there are all kinds of theories. Most seem to agree at this point that the Level I Multiverse is a thing because it's existence directly flows from the concept of an infinite inflationary universe. That's a theory which would lead to us existing here because we're in a universe where the physical laws worked out in such a way that we could be here. I've never heard of the concept that the laws "evolved" to what they are now, I'll certainly read up on it.


Are laws not simply constantly applicable rules, existing outside of spacetime? How would such a thing evolve?


in The Singular Universe Smolin argues that we should drop the assumption of unchanging laws outside of time and instead assume that Time is primary and the laws evolve as a function of the state of the Universe


(i.e. that the laws of physics are inside the universe)


Interesting, I'll have to read more about this. Thanks for the response.


Survival of the fittest universe.


Since you seem like a sensible person, I'll tell you what I have to deliver.

This world exists according to a singular, fundamental principle which is that a thing that comes into existence once makes results on the basis of what is inside of itself from the past, and makes itself exist continuously by repeating its activities endlessly. A thing's very activities become the cause through which it makes itself come into being in the future.

So, seeing the world from this principle, we can find two or three laws: The law of cause and effect, and the law of existing by changing through activities (repetition). Rather than coming up with theory and finding evidence, we can take any sample from the entire world and verify this theory as their method of operation.

(If you're wondering about the question of infinitely regressing this statement to the origin of the world, I can say that the same explanation applies. The world itself also repeats (ends and begins again) periodically and also displays the entire process of evolution according to the law of cause and effect.)

When people really understand this principle and see things in the world on the principle, they come to realize the fundamental problem in physics is gravity. People don't really understand what general relativity means. It's sort of like how most people don't know that Schrödinger was joking when he talked about not knowing if the cat would be alive or dead. That's why physics has gone on a massive detour over the last 100 years. Unless physicists solve the problem of gravity, humanity won't be able to recognize the cause of and survive through the collapse of the Earth's ecosystem. Things are more serious than people realize - even after all these years. It sounds fantastical to people who haven't confirmed, but what I point out here is undeniable after confirmation of facts. So, from one perspective, it's as if physicists don't have the willpower or courage to admit the reality of the situation today, which is what fundamentally prevents them from pursuing the way to confirm about gravity - it would result in them confronting today's reality. Realistically, it's a hard burden for anyone to bear. That's one of the reasons why a person who says what I say here is rarely welcomed.


"...a thing that comes into existence once makes results on the basis of what is inside of itself from the past, and makes itself exist continuously by repeating its activities endlessly. A thing's very activities become the cause through which it makes itself come into being in the future."

Are you saying that a thing exists before it comes into existence?


No. It means that the world contains the meaning, like an encoding, for something that can come into existence according to the law of cause and effect.


Downvotes prove my point. ;) People who told the truth to awaken humanity were always treated terribly. Anyone who is able to claim differently has never studied the most fundamental and important aspects of human history and can be confirmed to be a person who isn't actually able to understand the very truth.


> Downvotes prove my point.

"They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."

Yeah, maybe you're getting downvoted because the sheeple here can't cope with the audacity of your message. But maybe, just maybe, you're getting downvoted for making grandiose claims with nothing to back them up.


You've suggested that I made a claim with nothing to back it up. I challenge you to name just one thing from what I said that you can show has no proof.

Funny enough, the article itself was about how physicists cannot find the proof to sustain their development of further theory. Doesn't it seem even slightly suspicious to you that the person who points out that fact about those scientists is being accused of the very thing they do?

You intimate that I do the same kinds of things as a clown. The only reason you can suggest that is that you exclude everything I said aside from a few words. That's quite obviously a deception tactic and if you included actual proof in your own words, you would have had to reference the rest of my words. But you can't do that because it won't support your point.

In fact, if you can disprove anything I said, I'll wire you all of my money immediately. Furthermore, if you can show that anything I've said cannot be verified, I'll do the same. Or if you prefer, you can take my head. But I'm quite certain that will never happen.

By the way, your reaction is also the proof of what I say. The problem is you don't understand what I said. It would be better to admit that instead of attacking one of the people who can solve your questions.


> I challenge you to name just one thing from what I said that you can show has no proof.

Do you mean you want me to say you haven't proved it here (which is obvious, you proved nothing), or that you don't have proof you aren't showing us?

I can't show you don't have a hidden proof. You can't show I don't have a unicorn.

The quote about clowns he gave you is a general quote. basically, just because people disagree with you / call you a fool / downvote you doesn't make you right. Sometimes it means you are right, but more often it means you are wrong.

When you say you will wire me all your money if I can prove anything you said wrong, what would convince you something you said was wrong?

I can imagine what a disproof of Newtown's laws of physics, or quantum mechanics, or general relativity wrong would look like. These are well-defined mathematical models, so just show something in the real world not following those mathematical rules. I'm not sure how I could prove your system is "wrong", as it doesn't predict anything.

I can use Newtown's laws to predict how my car behaves. I can use quantum physics to predict how my CPU will behave. I can use general relativity to predict mercury's orbit. What does your system allow me to predict accurately?


Like I said, it explains the entire world of phenomena. I can say you didn't understand my explanation if you assert it makes no predictive claims.

Are you open-minded enough to consider places where you're mistaken? You contradict yourself a few times. This is not intended as ad hominem but as an indicator that you may want to reconsider whether your judgement can be correct. One example of a few: In the beginning of your comment you said that someone calling me a fool doesn't make me right. Agreed. But you contradict yourself by saying that it does sometimes make me right. That's definitely not true.

I'm going to skip replying to the rest of what you said because I know it was not based on having understood what I said. I'm ready to weather the obvious conclusion you're going to draw from that.


Honestly, if you want people to take your claims seriously, you are going to have to get better at explaining them.

I clearly am going to decide you are talking nonsense, as you suggest, as you have still never said anything understandable. You say "you didn't understand my explanation if you assert it makes no predictive claims.".

Why don't you just make a predictive claim that could be tested?


People like you are toxic, and cannot be argued with.


The only things you know are that you (a) can't disprove what I said but that (b) you also don't find enough through which to prove it. The latter can be caused by me spouting nonsense, but it can also be caused by you not understanding what I said well enough. Nevertheless, you make judgements and indictments without admitting that you don't actually have any intention to (a) check and improve your understanding of what I said and (b) check the veracity of what I said.

In other words, you're acting on the basis of what you do not know and informing others of your feelings. That tells me all I need to know about your ability to judge toxicity from teaching. It's never easy for people to learn something new. But you are only aware of how it feels to you, and you don't have the ability to distinguish whether it makes you change for the better or worse.


Title: LHC nightmare

First paragraph: "I finished highschool in ..."

Second paragraph: "Little did I realize"

Third paragraph: "Since I entered physics"

Fourth paragraph: "During my professional career"

Fifth paragraph: "When I look at"

Sixth paragraph: "For the last ten years you’ve been told that the LHC must see some new physics besides the Higgs because otherwise nature isn’t “natural” - [...]. I’ve been laughed at when I explained that I don’t buy into naturalness"

Seventh paragraph: "The idea of naturalness"

Eighth paragraph: "we’ve entered what has become known as the “nightmare scenario” for the LHC: The Higgs and nothing else."

Ah, the article starts in the eighth paragraph. Summary: read paragraphs 8 and the last, 9.


Some of us enjoy reading and writing like this. Writing especially in non-expository formats is more than just communicating the thesis of an article. Background and personal touch are often entertaining.

Take your comment for example. Your comment's thesis is the last sentence "Summary: read paragraphs 8 and the last, 9", but delaying that to the end yields a different effect for the reader than if you began with the thesis and then supplied examples.


I understand your viewpoint completely, I used to enjoy these articles too. Thousands of words on a single topic, no problem.

But time went on and I got tired of it. I discovered time is not infinite even when I have about sixty years ahead of me. I don't read mainstream news because knowing about the latest terror attack (or even positive news, like the latest rare animal being born in a zoo) doesn't help me in any way. Most of the time it just makes me feel bad for or angry about something that I can do nothing about nor affects me in any way.

I still read fiction as a past time activity and as I said, I used to enjoy these articles too, so I understand your point. It's just not the format I like to read for news.

(As for my own comment, burying the main thing, in my defense: it has structure that you can skip past very easily until the last sentence. But again, I see your point.)


This isn't a news article. It's the electronic equivalent of some person's diary. If you want something more formal, you'll probably be better served by skimming arXiv or subscribing to Nature.


i avoid most news also, meant to make me feel bad or angry to support someone else's gain.

also with time, it should be common practice to highlight the tldnr parts.

i could t help but think though, i thought the nightmare scenario for the LHC was to create a singularity and suck us all into a black hole ^_^


>Some of us enjoy reading and writing like this. [...] Background and personal touch are often entertaining.

Here's my guess on why the article's slow build up irrated many readers: It was the apocalyptic armageddon title and then the first sentence the reader sees is, "I finished high school in 1995."

If the title is bombastic or provocative, your readers are going to want the Inverted Pyramid[1].

Had the author titled it something more toned down like, "Coming to grips with LHC's lack of new particle discoveries" ... the immediate juxtaposition of "I finished high school in 1995" wouldn't have been such a letdown. The phrase "coming to grips" sets up the reader to sit back and relax for a "timeline".

Put another way, if the writer puts a promising title but buries the reader with personal details, it is often seen as a self-indulgent style of writing that does not respect the readers' time.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_pyramid


> Take your comment for example..

This is not analogous. If parent had begun the comment with a personal history of experience in reading verbose articles with clickbait-y headlines that then meander to the actual meat of the bait, then it'd be similar.

The parent comment is instead succinctly presenting evidence /observations which build to a conclusion. Not the same thing.


I've been on vacation for a while (can't escape HN) and this discussion strikes me as uptight, granular, and overall a waste of time. Read the article however you want and get on with life.


That's fine, but just sell what you're peddling and put your thesis at the top. A thesis including plenty of personal touch is just fine.

If you're going to have a title like 'LHC nightmare scenario" tell me precisely what it is -- briefly -- in the first paragraph and then introduce me to the fact that we're going to follow your maturing into a physicist and how that went along with the development and end with a good bang of expanding on that nightmare scenario.

Don't lure me in with a grabby title and then ignore it until the end. Make an interesting title, sell the title and the rest of the article in the first paragraph, and then get to the content.

I enjoy reading about the lives of scientists, just let me know that that's what I'll be reading.


I am a slow reader and every paragraph which is not about "the thing" makes me question the value of what I'm reading.

Clicking on a title with this amount of drama and urgency, I expect to read something related to the title. So I see this as clickbait of sorts.

Makes me wonder if writing of this type comes from educational requirements having a word minimum, equating wordiness with value.

Similar to YouTube tutorials filling 5 minutes with fluff before the 30 seconds of what I was hoping to see.

I wish there was a "scroll to the topic related to the link you clicked" kind of thing.


It must be nice to be immortal. You're immortal right? The rest of us have limited time.


Except lucb1e's critique was actually entertaining, because I stopped reading the post myself because it was just so much fluff. All that high school college la-di-da stuff.


It is an article on a personal blog. Really I find this post to be very cogent and well written, even extremely-so by personal blog post standards.

Edit: (tongue in cheek) maybe you can find something more in line with your expectations here: https://www.google.ca/search?tbm=isch&q=physics+comic+strips


Oh I actually hadn't noticed it's a personal blog, that makes a lot more sense. Thanks for responding.


Here's what I read on each paragraph:

1p: The mathematics that allow physicists to reconstruct the structure of matter is fascinating.

2p: The standard model, though ugly, is still undefeated (with examples).

3p: The LHC hasn't led to the discovery of new particles, and physicists are in denial (with examples and a link).

4p: There is a worrying trend about the failure to learn from failure.

5p: The trust in naturalness/beauty/simplicity to guide the search for a unified model is not working.

6p: Turns out "naturalness" is philosophical, not scientific.

7p: Physicists are opportunistic, so they'll try to justify a larger collider to try to discover new particles.

8p: The nightmare scenario: no new particles discovered with the LHC, so physicists have no guidance to continue.

9p: We've been doing it wrong with the use of naturalness as guidance. You can't trust the judgement of scientists when their future funding depends on continuing working in this direction.

So paragraphs 1 through 7 do offer a good background to support his thesis that "naturalness as guidance" is wrongheaded, which is the real point of the article. If you only read the last paragraphs his thesis sounds shaky and arbitrary.


What's worse is that a potentially interesting HN comment thread about physics was derailed by your nit picky comment about article structure.

Now the rest of the comments on this thread are mostly banal arguments about writing style instead of the LHC.


The 2nd and 3rd exposes what's the article about: that there are no new physics to discover from LHC. The 8th paragraph only confirms what the title means. Frequently, the paragraph beginnings are not meaningful. It is better to skim the end of the paragraphs too.

I don't mind this kind of writing for this length of article. I like it in fact. It took me much less to read it than to write this comment.


You could have cut out your first 9 paragraphs and got straight to the point.


Thanks. This http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/hope-for-new-parti... is the real content here.

Edit: This quote from the scientific american article provides a counter-perspective

“We would have been very lucky if we found something, some new phenomenon or some new state of matter at this early stage,” says CMS physicist Tiziano Camporesi. “But we have to be patient.”


I have started reading articles like that, including this one. I think it's just because in this age there are a lot of articles that are stretched to be long enough to be an article and not just a tweet or what have you.

The frustration I think is because you have a very specific title, promising to have a very specific insight, and then it starts in 1980 and promises to bring you up to 2016....

I actually had the same reaction to that Bloom Filter article yesterday. But I ultimately skipped the first 3 and then got into it.


I am the first person to chafe at discursive writing about things I'm trying to learn or be informed, but to be fair this one isn't completely aggravating to me. Seems more like setting the stage than something like a Pioneer Woman Cooks recipe where an extended anecdote leads to a banal segue. "And that's when I noticed that both my niece and her puppy liked sweets, so I decided to go home that day and make these sugar cookies..."


>Ah, the article starts in the eighth paragraph. Summary: read paragraphs 8 and the last, 9.

Perhaps you mean "the subject of the title" begins in the eight paragraph.

The essence of an article or book or movie is not always at the title. Nor it's necessary for it to move to what the title says as fast as possible.


>The essence of an article or book or movie is not always at the title.

Also good to know: Headlines in newspapers are not written by the reporter, that is traditionally up to the copy-editor.

Titles of books are often not chosen by the author either.

A title or headline isn't a promise, it's a 'hook.' There is no reason to get mad once you understand that.


This is a totally idiotic summary of a well written article.


The more we know the more we know how much we do not know...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIlWDljtlN4


Arrival of sophons confirmed.


I was expecting a large scale coolant leak of helium flooding the work areas, a quench.


"It has left them without guidance, lost in a thicket of rapidly multiplying models" I can't help but think if JavaScript fatigue.


I don't know about everyone else, but when I read 'The LHC "nightmare scenario" has come true' I expected a black hole, or reality being sucked down a pinpoint wormhole. Maybe those are the same thing.


Wow. Really have to agree with the click bait thing here.

Also, this article takes forever to get to the point - I was able to skip most of the content until like 75% the way through the thing.


Why is this down voted? Wanna understand how people could disagree on this point, especially when it's the most common comment on this page


My best guess: the article is 726 words; That's pretty short by HN's standards.


The modern education system is failing pretty hard if a 700-word article about an existential crisis in theoretical physics (or at least a physicist) is considered "too long" and taking "forever to get to the point".


If it had created a black hole, I doubt we'd read about it. Wouldn't it oscillate about the earths centre, and swallow it within a few seconds?


It would probably evaporate before doing any harm. If Hawking radiation exists, then tiny black holes produce massive amounts of it.


read the article, friend




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