Particle Fever

LHC media fever continues this year, with at least three books out or on the way:

The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider by Fermilab experimentalist Don Lincoln.

Collider: The Search for the Worlds Smallest Particles by Paul Halpern.


The Large Hadron Collider by Lyn Evans, who knows a thing or two about the subject.

There’s also a documentary entitled Particle Fever being made about the LHC, produced by theorist David Kaplan, who “has discovered some of the most recognizable extensions to the standard model of elementary particles.” The film web-site has bios for five physicists who will feature prominently in the film: three theorists well-known for their work on large extra-dimensional models, one experimentalist from CMS, and one from ATLAS. The ATLAS experimentalist is described as “a leader in the search for extra dimensions.” I can’t find anything about the Higgs on the web-site, maybe they’ve already given up on that and left it to the Tevatron…

The descriptions of the theorists include “responsible for some of the wildest theories about the nature of gravity, cosmology and fundamental particles”, “a leader in the fields of supersymmetry, extra dimensions and new forces… has become a controversial figure by questioning experimentalists’ traditional methods of analyzing the data” and “the most likely to win a Nobel Prize after the LHC data is interpreted.” The experimentalist description is rather more modest (“has been involved in detector R&D and construction, software development and physics data analysis”), nothing about any possible Nobel prizes. If you had to choose whether to be a theorist or an experimentalist, the choice looks easy.

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2 Responses to Particle Fever

  1. H-I-G-G-S says:

    You forgot to mention “is considered the greatest theoretical particle physicist of his generation.” How do you say chutzpah in Farsi?

  2. woit says:


    I think the percentage of physicists who consider Nima “the greatest theoretical particle physicist of his generation” is at least a couple of orders of magnitude larger than the percentage who think it likely that extra dimensions will be seen at the LHC. I won’t speculate on the absolute magnitudes of these two numbers…

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