While I was away last week Columbia was hosting the Large Hadron Collider Physics (LHCP) conference here on campus. Talks are available here. Matt Strassler posts about some of the new Higgs results, which basically see some of the inconsistencies in Higgs mass measurements disappearing. Right now everything is quite consistent with a pure Standard Model Higgs.
In the final plenary session, the theory talk from John Ellis ended by claiming the LHC results as a success for SUSY (the “success” is that simple classes of SUSY models said the Higgs couldn’t be too heavy, also that the Higgs couplings should be much like those of the SM, so any SM success is a SUSY success). Another argument was that “SUSY is increasingly the best solution [of the hierarchy problem] that we have” (here he was following Nathaniel Craig’s summary talk), illustrated by two discouraged soldiers under bombardment in a foxhole, one saying to the other “Well, if you knows of a better ‘hole go to it!”. It’s interesting to note that the arguments from Ellis work just as well if SUSY is not found at Run 2, a likely possibility he’s getting ready for.
The conference included a Friday afternoon panel discussion that you can watch here. This began with an excellent presentation from Fabianola Gianotti about the possibilities for next-generation colliders. The discussion moderated by Dennis Overbye of the New York Times focused to some extent on the budgetary challenges facing US HEP, with Steve Ritz, the chair of the P5 panel, commenting on the tough situation reflected in that panel’s recent report. Many speakers expressed frustration over the US budget level for HEP and what to do about it. Enlist the public? Do a better job of convincing Congress? Get billionaires to help fund HEP? Get billionaires to fund a Super PAC that would buy us a Congress with a better attitude?
Most of the discussion was about the experimental side, but Arkani-Hamed also had comments about the theory side, noting that the job market for theorists, which improved after his grad school days in the mid-90s, has now worsened and gone back to that level. He also noted that successful young theorists are increasingly ending up in faculty jobs outside the US after starting their careers as students and postdocs here.