This Week’s Hype

The LHC is back in business, producing stable colliding beams for the first time this year, although still with a small number of bunches and thus a low luminosity. The number of bunches and luminosity will increase over the next couple weeks.

Reuters explains the significance of this, based on quotes from CERN scientists: they expect to find evidence of the multiverse as predicted in Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene’s books.

Oliver Buchmueller, a leading physicist on the $10 billion project, said top priority in 2011 and 2012 would be finding evidence of super-symmetry, extra dimensions, dark matter, black hole production and the elusive Higgs boson.

These concepts and ideas are at the new frontiers of science research as it pushes into the realms of what was once science fiction, giving a new impulse to cosmology and theorizing on whether the known universe is alone, or one of many.

Cosmologists, like Briton Steven Hawking and U.S. physicist and mathematician Brian Greene, are looking to the LHC to turn up at least strong signs that there was another universe before the Big Bang or that others exist in parallel to our own

There’s no word on exactly how LHC data is going to provide evidence for the multiverse, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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22 Responses to This Week’s Hype

  1. King Ray says:

    String theory is a Zombie Theory that won’t die, and keeps eating the brains of those silly enough to believe in it.

  2. UnderlyingEvent says:

    Hi Peter, Where exactly do you get your latest LHC news from? Like the fact that beams are colliding now, and what the luminosity is.

  3. Glenn says:

    Perhaps John G. Cramer’s prediction will come true after all?

    Of course, in that case, the proof would exist on a world-line inaccessible to any living observer.

  4. Gerrid Hargors says:

    is there a chance that the LHC might find absolutely nothing?

    when would we see this?

  5. Sakura-chan says:

    Even if it finds nothing that’s still something.

  6. Christian Takacs says:

    It is very possible to write a brilliant, internally consistant, story in the english language which is incredibly detailed and resembles reality in some ways, but only so much as the author desires and has the skill to imagine and impart. We call this body of work a fiction or fantasy, and no one seems surprised it is quite possible to make things up which don’t exist but have aspects of realism.

    It is very possible to write a brilliant, internally consistant speculation in the language of mathematics which is incredibly detailed and resembles reality in some ways, but only so much as the mathematician or physicist desires and has the skill to imagine and impart. It appears many in the mathematics and physics community are confused about what to call this growing ‘speculative body of work’, while others seem quite surprised (and unwilling) to consider it is quite possible to make things up which don’t exist but have aspects of realism…even in mathematics.

  7. DB says:

    I expect that your colleague Brian Greene will quickly and vocally distance himself from this nonsense. Right?
    After all, surely he doesn’t want to be remembered as the mass peddler of pseudo-scientific quackery.

  8. Peter Woit says:


    At some point I started not linking to LHC info at CERN, since they were making private previously public sources when they were linked to. But it now looks like they made a long-term decision to keep public these:

    LHC vistars (see Page 1, Coordination and Operation)

    Latest news from daily commissioning meetings:

    Philip Gibbs does a good job of summarizing the situation at

  9. Peter Woit says:


    The supersymmetry, extra dimensions, etc. is all a side show,these are not well-motivated ideas and they will just get slowly ruled out to higher and higher energy levels. The serious thing to watch is the Higgs. Either it will be found, or our understanding of electroweak symmetry breaking is wrong, and presumably some sort of evidence will be found for what the right theory is. This should start later this year…

  10. Peter Woit says:


    Brian does seem to often take pains to claim he’s not a proponent of these multiverse ideas, but that generally gets lost.

    More importantly, I think the CERN PR people should think twice about having those who speak publicly for them heavily promoting extra dimensions, etc., and encourage them to stick to real physics

  11. pr says:

    The PR office has to say *something*, and it can’t be simply “the LHC is looking for the Higgs boson”. The PR office *has* to say “the LHC is searching for new physics, beyond current knowledge” ~ and what is there to say? It can only be phrased in terms of the prevailing ideas/fashions of the day. That’s not the fault of the PR office. SPEAR was not built to search for quarks. The AGS was not built to search for quarks (or CP violation) either. They were all built to explore the unkown, which turned out to be quite a bit different from the expectations of the day. It is a pity that nothing has been found (by accelerators) beyond the SM for 30-odd years, and perhaps the LHC will be the same, but the PR office can and must speak in terms of the ideas of the times. No matter if history shows that this is a very poor guide to successful predictions.

  12. Michael says:

    pr has a point. The easiest and most effective way to justify the LHC now is with these speculative theoretical ideas. However, doing so is also dangerous since the speculations cannot all be right and a malicious journalist could always write a lead article “CERN scientists fail to find Supersymmetry again!” or something like that. So the hype does cost us in the long term and makes our community seem unserious or even silly. Which we are not.

    Oliver Buchmüller is a serious scientist and I regret that his words were twisted by Reuters. He is a leading figure in CMS and contributes at many levels. Don’t judge him by this one twisted quote.

  13. Rhys says:

    I agree with both pr and Michael. Of course there *are* searches for black hole production, extra dimensions etc. being performed by the LHC experimental groups, but nobody would argue that they are the “top priority”, and I’ll bet that Buchmueller didn’t say so.

  14. dir says:

    if lhc finds just the standard model higgs, and nothing else, then the best understanding of the stability of the weak scale is anthropic idea, this is especially the case if the higgs mass is 143 \pm 5 gev which implies a high scale susy breaking.

  15. Giotis says:

    I think there is a misunderstanding here. The article explains later the line of reasoning behind this assertion, that is if SUSY is discovered this would backup String theory and String theory offers backup for the multiverse idea. In fact this is consistent with Brian Greene’s book which promotes the same thing i.e. that if we could estimate by circumstantial evidences (e.g. SUSY) that String theory is on the right path then the multiverse will gain validity and a concrete theoretical justification.

    Also I’m not sure if this is an actual quotation of Oliver Buchmueller; maybe only the first paragraph is his.

    PS. Peter the link is faulty…

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  17. neo says:

    I just finished reading Greene’s multiverse book. He may not be a proponent, but he is far from agnostic about it. He is very sympathetic, and most of the book is an extended defense of his view that the multiverse (he considers NINE types) is science, not pseudo-science. No where does he claim, however, that the LHC will provide evidence for it, except indirectly, such as finding SUSY particles, which he argues would weakly affirm string theory, which would (even more weakly) affirm the landscape multiverse.

  18. Roger says:

    Brian does seem to often take pains to claim he’s not a proponent of these multiverse ideas, but that generally gets lost.

    Greene just wrote a book that consists entirely of a promotion of nine different types of multiverses. He is out giving TV interviews promoting the multiverse. It appears to me that he is more of a proponent of multiverse ideas than anyone else. Where does he take pains to deny it?

  19. I guess these types never weary of peddling this kind of dross: “Large Hadron Collider could be world’s first time machine”

  20. rhofmann says:

    Some very personal thoughts on the LHC situation: The healthy part of the electroweak (ew) part of the SM, namely an SU(2)x(effective)U(1) gauge structure, which was confirmed so many times by LEP and predecessor machines, will be reconfirmed by LHC. The ugly part – the entire Higgs sector with its implications for all sorts s of model building – will go away to eventually make room for a much more fundamental understanding of ew symmetry breaking, fermion-mass emergence and effective chirality of the weak interactions, the grasp of the latter providing an EXPLANATION for the effective anomaly cancellation in the SM. This will require a sharp break with the perturbative approach to gauge theories, and we will have to go a long cumbersome way to reach the same level of SM accuracy that was confirmed by past ew precision experiments. Apart from not seeing the Higgs the LHC may provide hints in low-energy secondaries (multiplicities) and possibly by seeing additional heavy vector triplets.

  21. Susy WIMP says:

    What did Xenon100 announce this morning? They haven’t made anything available online yet.

  22. Peter Woit says:

    Susy WIMP,

    See the Neutel11 blog for info on this. Xenon100 announced only that their data is not yet unblinded. Nothing yet….

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