Following up on last week’s European Strategy Group Meeting in Krakow, this week UK particle physicists are doing something similar, with a Particle Physics Advisory Panel community meeting in Birmingham.
The talks on the experimental side tell much the same story as the Krakow talks. On the theory side, the UK meeting has more, with a phenomenology talk which discusses prospects for “Saving SUSY” while noting that:
It’s ironic that the solution to the absence of SUSY is to add even more stuff: composite 3rd generation or Higgs, R-parity violating couplings, scalar gluons, or new singlets.
There’s extensive discussion of UK particle theory funding here. I don’t understand very well how particle theory is funded in the UK, but was interested to note that the slide on page 5 has string theory’s piece of the pie stable at 27% last year (also 27% in 2008, 28% in 2005). Mike Duff (see commentary here) wrote a piece for the forthcoming 40 Years of String Theory volume arguing that the 2006 books by Lee Smolin and me were responsible for destroying funding of string theory in the UK, but the numbers in this new talk don’t seem to bear this out. I gather there’s a separate story about the EPSRC and mathematical physics, and curious to hear from anyone who knows more about that. But if the state of affairs is that the mathematical end of string theory is being defunded while the phenomenological end is going strong, that can’t be because someone in authority read my book…
Update: The US has its own version of this planned to take place over the next year, Snowmass 2013, starting with a meeting next month at Fermilab. It looks like this will be purely about planning on the experimental side, with the problems of particle theory not on the agenda.