Supersymmetry and Beyond

Back in the year 2000, Gordon Kane published Supersymmetry: Unveiling the Ultimate Laws of Nature, a popular book promoting supersymmetry and string theory. The thrust of the book was that there was already indirect evidence for SUSY, with confirmation by discovery of superpartners due to come soon from LEP (which was running at energies near 100 GeV/beam) and the Tevatron (where Run II at high luminosity and nearly 1 TeV/beam was to start in 2001). The LHC was also discussed, mainly as the place that would confirm and extend the LEP/Tevatron superpartner discoveries.

Thirteen years later, with no hint of SUSY showing up as promised, not only at LEP/Tevatron energies, but also at the much higher energies and luminosities of the 8 TeV LHC, Kane has a new popular book promoting supersymmetry and string theory, entitled Supersymmetry and Beyond. It includes his claim to have predicted the Higgs mass using string theory (see Matt Strassler’s take on this here, mine here). Much of the book though consists of exactly the same text as the 2000 version.

How does Kane handle the detailed failed predictions of the 2000 edition in the new 2013 version? Basically by editing them out, with no indication to the reader that this has been done.  What’s the right word to describe the result of an Orwellian exercise like this? You can make up your mind about that yourself, since I’ve gathered together here some examples of the book text, showing the edits that were done to create the new version.

Pages xvii/xviii

Supersymmetry is still an idea as this book is being written (mid-1999) in late 2012. There is considerable indirect evidence that it is a property of the laws of nature, but the confirming direct evidence is not yet in place. That is not an argument against nature being supersymmetric; rather, the accelerator collider facilitiesy that could confirm it (the LHC) are  is just beginning to cover the region where the signals could appear (Chapter 5)[about LEP and Fermilab].

Pages 2-3/3

If we understand supersymmetry and its implications correctly, direct experimental evidence for supersymmetry will be found in the next few years – possibly soon after this book is published (or, with great luck, even before).

Pages 13/16

Only now are colliders and detectors at laboratories are now achieving the energies and luminosities (amounts of data) and sensitivities needed to explicitly detect the superpartners explicitly, at least if our thinking about their properties is more or less right.

Pages 70-71/77-79

The manner in which supersymmetry explains the Higgs physics is elegant and has important consequences for how we expect to test supersymmetry experimentally. It is rather technical. A more detailed description is given in Appendix B; here I will give a short version. There are three parts…

Therefore, the supersymmetric Standard Model explanation of the Higgs mechanism would not make sense unless the some superpartner masses were not much larger than the Standard Model masses they explain. That gives us an estimate of the masses we should expect the superpartners to have as we search for them, and it tells us at what stage we should question the validity of the theory if the superpartners have not been detected. Such estimates are only approximate, but luckily the expected masses are small enough that they imply the superpartners should be detected soon.

Appendix B was deleted entirely, it contained the text (page 156)

Therefore, the superpartner masses cannot be very much larger than the Z boson mass if this whole approach is valid. This is the only place where we can use the theory to relate the unknown superpartner masses to known masses, so on the one hand, it is a major test of the correctness of the supersymmetry explanation of the Higgs physics, and on the other, it is the most significant reason whey we expect the masses of the superpartners to have values that allow them to be produced at Fermilab or even LEP. This connection also suggests that if the superpartner masses are much larger than the Z boson mass, then the apparent success of the supersymmetry theory in explaining the origin of the Higgs physics of the Standard Model could be an accident.

Pages 88-89/89

Several arguments imply that some sparticles are within the reach of Fermilab the LHC. The strongest One of the most appealing is based on the explanation supersymmetry gives for the Higgs mechanism of the Standard Model, as described in the last chapter Chapter 7. Basically the qualitative argument is that because since supersymmetry provides the Higgs mechanism that accounts for the masses of W and Z, the some sparticle masses cannot be much heavier than the W and Z masses themselves. Fermilab has already produced and detected thousands of W’s and Z’s. When this argument is framed put in a technical form, it implies that gluinos and probably charginos and neutralinos and stops should be in the Fermilab within the LHC reach. If they are not, the impressive successes of supersymmetry listed at the beginning of Chapter 4 may be meaningless coincidences. There are some arguments, both theoretical and phenomenological, suggesting that squarks and sleptons will be too massive to produce at the LHC.

Chapter 8, on SUSY implications for matter/anti-matter asymmetry, proton decay, rare decays like mu to e-gamma, and CP violation has been deleted. Appendix D, on large extra dimensions, has also been completely deleted.

Witten’s preface has been edited:

Experimental clues suggest that the energy required to produce the new particles is not much higher than that of present accelerators. If supersymmetry plays the role in physics that we suspect it does, then it is very likely to be discovered by the next generation of particle accelerators, either at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, or Large Hadron Collider (LHC) or its upgrades, at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

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51 Responses to Supersymmetry and Beyond

  1. Yrast says:

    Peter,
    The book has a 2 star rating on Amazon, mainly because of your posting ( 2 reviewers give it the lowest possible score with references and links to your blog). Certainly the gist of the posting as seen by those reviewers and me is not “just accurate information about changes…”. “Orwellian exercise!” really?

    I have enjoyed reading your book (which has references to Kane’s books) and am an avid follower of your usually very informative blog.
    Thank you for the great job.