More than ten years ago, the New York Times ran a story explaining that Physicists Finally Find a Way to Test Superstring Theory. At the time, the test was scheduled to start in 2005-6:
In fact, it might be possible to concentrate so many heavy gravitons into a tiny volume of space that they would collapse in on themselves and create miniature black holes, those cosmic sinkholes from which nothing can escape. Experiments like this will be on the agenda when the Large Hadron Collider begins operation in five or six years at the CERN accelerator center in Geneva. ”These black holes should be quite safe,” Dr. Giddings said, for they would rapidly evaporate.
Today CMS released the results of the long awaited test of superstring theory, based on 35 inverse picobarns of data. It failed.
Update: Since this is getting wider than usual attention via Slashdot, I suppose I should remove tongue from cheek and make clear what is going on here. Claims such as the one in the 2000 Times headline always were nonsense: string theory unification failed long ago because it can’t predict anything. Various physicists back then came up with “string theory inspired” models of extra dimensions that would in principle have observable effects at LHC energies. There never was any reason at all to believe these models (and they were no more “predictions of string theory” than anything else), but there was a lot of hype about them, often promoted to the media by people who should have known better. Now that the LHC is finally working, the result is exactly what everyone expected: these exotic phenomena that had no good reason to happen don’t actually happen. It’s great evidence that the LHC is working as expected, but not an experimental refutation of string theory.
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