Various particle physics-related science fiction and fantasy news:
Discover has an interview with Kip Thorne, who is working with Steven Spielberg on a science fiction film tentatively entitled Interstellar for release in 2009. The plot evidently involves the novel idea of a group of explorers who travel through a worm hole and into another dimension. Thorne expects that “nothing in the film will violate fundamental physical law.” He also seems rather involved in fantasy as well as science fiction, believing that the LHC has a “good shot” at producing mini-black holes, and that “String theory is now beginning to make concrete, observational predictions which will be tested.” (via Angry Physics).
Also on the fantasy front, I hear there’s a new movie out called The Golden Compass, which supposedly has a plot based on multiple dimensions and particle physics. According to this review, the plot is not really fantasy, because:
In the past thirty years or so, a majority of scientists have come to accept string theory as a so-called “Theory of Everything,” one that helps to explain how everything in the universe works.
and string theory explains these extra dimensions.
One can follow the progress of the LHC project on the web, and unfortunately it’s looking like the current official schedule, which plans on trying to circulate a beam next May and physics starting in July, is pretty much a fantasy. This schedule already was sticking to these dates in the face of delays that made them look unrealistic, but there have now been further delays. According to the schedule, sector 45 should be completely cooled down now and nearing the end of powering tests, with four others in the middle of cool-down. The actual state of affairs is that sector 45 is just finally getting fully cooled down to 1.9K, and the only other sector being cooled down is sector 56. A rough guess would be that they’re three months or so behind the official schedule, so if nothing else goes wrong they might have a beam in late summer, physics sometime late in the fall. The CERN Council will be meeting later this week and get a status report on LHC progress, perhaps there will be an official update on the schedule at that time.
Michael Dine and collaborators have a new preprint about the Landscape, one that tells a rather different story than Dine’s recent article in Physics Today. The authors discuss the question of the stability of Landscape states, given that there may be many nearby states, considering the possibility that this favors supersymmetric states. They also mention the problem of how to calculate transition probabilities into whatever the relevant metastable states are, which suffers from the well-known problem of how to pick a measure for eternal inflation, writing
While we currently have little new to add to this discussion, we point out that the landscape is likely to be more complicated than assumed in many simple models of eternal inflation.
There’s nothing in the paper that could possibly justify the Physics Today claims of hopes that landscape studies would soon be making “definitive statements about the physics of the LHC” and able to “specify some detailed features.” Instead, there is a discussion of the possibility that landscape statistics are dominated by large volume, non-supersymmetric states, in which case:
[if] they are otherwise undistinguished, it is unclear how one might imagine developing a string phenomenology. Not only would we fail to make predictions, e.g. for LHC physics, but we would not know how to interpret LHC outcomes.
Update: For more sci-fi, tonight’s arXiv postings include Warp Drive: A New Approach by string phenomenologist Gerald Cleaver and his graduate student Richard Obousy.