From an article in the CERN Courier I recently learned about a program that brought together physicists and philosophers of science earlier this year around the topic of philosophy and particle physics. This was the First International Spring School on Particle Physics and Philosophy held last March in Germany, and I gather that there are plans for a second one in two years.
Unlike many “physics and philosophy” efforts, which often revolve around rather sterile debates, the central topics of this school were very real issues currently at the heart of fundamental physics. In particular, the questions of gauge symmetry and the Higgs mechanism played an appropriately large role, with the experimental situation an important part of the discussion. In a few days (at EPS-HEP2011) we’re likely to hear the first significant results about the Higgs coming from the LHC. This will mark the beginning of a new era likely lasting for a while which will be dominated by news coming from the LHC on this topic, and a major re-orientation of theoretical research in response. New ideas will hopefully emerge, and models that have held theorists attention for decades will likely fall by the way-side (in his talk on supersymmetry, Michael Kraemer expresses the opinion that if it doesn’t show up in the 2011/12 run, it’s all over for weak scale supersymmetry).
The speaker’s slides for the conference unfortunately aren’t now publicly available since the organizers haven’t gotten permission from their authors, but perhaps they’ll be made available at some point, somewhere in some form.